Today's Lectionary Text
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
I’m really enjoying seeing people smile these days – that’s probably one thing I have missed most during the time we have all been wearing masks – your smiles. Exchanging smiles, even with strangers brightens my spirit and just makes me feel good! I haven’t always thought of a smile as an act of kindness though.
I recently found Smile at the top of a list of ways to show kindness in an article purporting that 66 percent of those they surveyed felt less stress when someone smiled at them. Mother Theresa said it very well: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
Kindness is behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward. Research shows that being kind to others can boost your happiness, increase your longevity, and even help curb symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are scientific reasons that kindness is really, really, good for both the giver and the receiver. Acts of kindness cause our bodies to release serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin which are chemicals that all have positive impact our mental health. Being kind can help reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which impacts our physical health as well.
Jesus has a lot to say about kindness and calls us to live as agents of God’s kindness. In Colossians 3:12, Paul gives us his list of the great graces the Colossians were to clothe themselves with. Kindness is key among them. The Greek word for kindness, chrēstotēs, is the virtue of one whose neighbor’s good is as dear to him as his own. Barclay’s writing on this passage tells us that goodness alone can be stern or harsh, but chrēstotēs is the goodness which is kind – the goodness Jesus used.
John Wesley believed that love of neighbor comes from a heart that is united or right with God. When we believe in God’s goodness and in Christ’s saving grace, Jesus is formed in our hearts by faith. Thus, God’s loving kindness dwells in us and we reflect the image of God in which we are created. So, for Christians, it’s about more than nice feelings – it’s about the kind of person we have become in Christ. Our service, prayers, donations, etc. are outpourings of this new creation we’ve become in Christ – one clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
This weekend, as volunteers worked with friends, neighbors, and students to clean up unwanted household items and yard debris in the Elm neighborhood, I was impacted and even surprised by so many “expressions of God’s kindness.” Smiles were plentiful as everyone worked together, each at their own level of ability to get the job done. Trash truck drivers and a city worker along with church volunteers, WSU students, and neighborhood residents all sharing smiles, kind words, stories, laughter, and lots of dirty, grimy, sweaty work brought a piece of heaven to earth. Who knew doing trash could be so good for you?
How kind are you? Is there someone in need of your kindness today? Maybe someone who is difficult to love? gets on your nerves? needs an encouraging word? a cranky co-worker? a long-forgotten friend or neighbor? What acts of God’s loving kindness is He asking of you today?
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you!” Ephesians 4:32
Director of Community Life
Wichita East Heights UMC