The Power of Kindness

The drive thru was wrapped around the building.

It was the longest line I had ever seen. Not only did it make a 360 degree loop around the building, it kept going all the way out of the parking lot. Once you got in that line, there was no getting out.

I was already late feeding my kids lunch, so I decided I really had no choice but to brave the line {Chick-fil-A is basically the only restaurant on the planet, am I right?}.

The longer I waited, the more annoyed I became.

What on earth could be taking so long?

This Chick-fil-A is always slow. I’m never coming to this one again.

Who ordered something so specific? Why didn’t they just walk in?

Why do they have someone training at the drive-thru window at lunch rush?

Twenty minutes pass about as quickly as the rolly pollies on the sidewalk of summer.

Finally, it’s my turn. I’ve already got the cash counted out in exact change because I’m speeding outta this place as soon as that glorious white bag with the red lettering is in my hands.

“It’s taken care of, ma’am,” the employee said as I pulled up.

“Excuse me?”

“The lady in front of you paid for your meal. This has been going on for a few hours now.”

Oh geez. Now I have to pay for the person behind me because who wants to be the grumpy sourpuss mom who stops the kindness train in its tracks? What if this guy in the work truck behind me ordered all the expensive stuff on the menu? My meal was only $5.00 because I ordered bare minimum amounts {that stay-at-home-mom budget, y’all}, but he’s probably all about that milkshake life.

Alanna, listen to yourself. You love this sort of thing. It’s a bright spot in the world. Pay for his meal, no matter what it costs.

I paid it forward that day, but if I’m being honest, it was mostly out of obligation. Clearly, I’m not exactly the kindness queen. It’s not my natural response to most situations.

So I wasn’t initially thrilled that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. Is it okay for me to say that?

Truthfully, there are many days that I act with kindness but it is not an overflow of my heart…it’s more of a surface-level save face move.

But true kindness is not the same thing as niceness. Niceness is a pleasantness, an enjoyable nature, which is a beautiful thing that I would most likely not be qualified to speak on ever {not exactly the most pleasant person on the planet, see story above}.

Kindness, by distinction, is defined as having a benevolent, or helpful, nature or disposition. Simply put, kindness is a deep desire to help or benefit others. It’s the inclination and the urge to improve the lives of others in any way possible without self-motivated reasoning.

What it means to be kind-hearted is having a heart that is always bent on benefitting others. Kindness asks, “How can I be in her corner in this moment? How could I improve his life?”

But why does it matter? What is the big deal about kindness? Why is kindness a fruit of the Spirit-something the Spirit is constantly working to grow within us?

The remarkable thing about kindness is that it moves people. In that drive-thru line, for hours on end-literally from the breakfast hours through at least lunch that day- people were not only touched but their actions also changed because of the kindness that had been shown to them. Even the grumpy mom with the hangry kids couldn’t resist the opportunity to give to others what had been given to her.

And this was just surface level kindness, y’all. The reason kindness is the often a topic the church only reserves for its kid’s ministry is because kindness gets more complex the older we get. Adults struggle to bestow kindness because the people we are around don’t always deserve it. It’s easy to pay for the stranger’s meal at Chick-fil-A, but to show my arrogant coworker kindness? To be in the corner of that family member who is not in mine? Perhaps it’s hardest to be kind to those we know because we’ve seen their actions and decide we know what’s really in their hearts.

But that’s why there’s an opportunity for godly kindness everyday, most often with the people who have wronged us, been unkind, or just downright awful to us. The people who have not wanted to be of benefit to us-maybe who have even intentionally been of detriment to us.

Acts 14:17 says, “He let people go their own way. Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

God let people go their own way. He never forced anyone to worship Him. And when we went our our way, shook our fist at God and claimed He was not God, that we knew more and we knew best, He blessed us still. He gave us the good gifts of rain, crops, food, and filled our heart with the joys of this life.

He regarded His kindness as powerful enough to be the testimony of His nature to the people of the earth.

A kindness like this- it does more than just move people temporarily. It changes them forever. Romans 2:4 says that God’s kindness- expressed to us in Christ Jesus- was intended to lead us to repentance.

God’s kindness is what evokes the deep spiritual awakening of repentance within us.

The fact that God would pursue our best interest when we told Him He had no idea what was for our best is the ultimate kindness.

The fact that Jesus would take on the punishment that we should have carried and born unto death- it’s literally the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.

This is why kindness- wanting the best for others with no ulterior motive- is one of the ways we most accurately reflect the God we worship.

How amazing that God didn’t desire to lead us to repentance through our experiencing the punishment for what we have done. Instead, He demonstrated the most breathtaking kindness the world will ever know- Jesus took it for us. He took the mess we made for ourselves and cleaned it up. He bore the absolute agony of the wrath of God- something no one alive has ever fully known- to benefit us unto forgiveness, eternal life, and freedom.

When you see Jesus in this light, you can’t help but weep with repentance. The incomparable riches of His grace truly are expressed by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

And as we walk with Jesus, this is the kindness to which He calls us. It goes far beyond being nice, or helpful here and there.

It becomes the way we look at people. What does this person need in this moment? How can I benefit this person with what I have? What could I say to help this person be all he was called to be? How can I come alongside her to help her reach her potential in this life?

It’s a holy transition in the way we see others. No longer do we analyze them based on their usefulness to us. How can this person meet my needs- for fun, for community, for getting over loneliness, for affirmation? That question becomes extinct. Every person we meet becomes someone we can come alongside and stand on the sideline, cheering for, lifting up, bringing water to, as they run their race.

Kindness will always get the attention of the world because to live a life that is centered on others is foreign to everything we know and are wired to do. Our kindness paves the way for people to see the glory of the kindness of Jesus, and appropriately fall on their faces in repentance. Why would we ever have run from His kindness? But oh how great to know it’s still there. He’s always there, giving us good gifts, regardless of whether we’ll ever follow Him. The riches of His grace truly expressed by His never-ending kindness to us.