Things have been a little crazy around here this month – a lot of traveling! Spent four days in Seattle, Vancouver, and Whistler (blog to come soon), and tomorrow I’m headed to Chicago and Stratford, Ontario (blog to come later) for the Shakespeare Festival.
Because of my travels and some general laziness and watching of movies, my [CULTIVATE] project has been a little off track, but I’m hoping I won’t get too off course. So, seven days late, let’s start Kindness!
Kindness. This is one of those words that has sort of lost its meaning over time. Today, kindness and niceness are pretty much synonyms. Which is unfortunate — the biblical definition of kindness is so much more than being polite or helpful. Pierro Ferruchi says kindness is not “self-interested politeness, calculated generosity, superficial etiquette.” But how many times does it feel that way? Quite often, I think.
Kindness in the Bible is related to mercy, instead of politeness. According to the OT The Hebrew Lexicon, the Hebrew word for kindness is usually checed, which in the KJV is rendered “mercy” 149 times, “kindness” 40 times, and “loving kindness” 30 times.
These two words are often interchangeable. So we can see mercy is so much more than politeness. Mercy is, instead, letting someone go free when they deserve a punishment, as God extends to us through His grace and forgiveness. It is also extending a compassionate hand to those who are afflicted and in need — just as God does to those who suffer, as shown to Israel in Isaiah 63:7: “I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us — yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.”
In return for His kindness, it’s God’s call to us in Luke 6:36: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” This is how we can be kind in our lives.
So this month I am going to try to be more than nice and polite when cultivating kindness. I think this is going to be a little difficult, and may involve some fake-it-till-I-make-it. It’s hard to be truly kind and merciful, especially to people who we don’t think “deserve” it. It’s also hard to look at kindness is as more than what our culture has made it — random acts of nice things to people, doing good deeds, being polite, etc. True kindness involves sacrifice, forgiveness, trust, and compassion.
Bring it on, August — I’m looking forward to discovering what kindness truly is.