And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.” –Ephesians 4:32 [AMP]
Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deeds are the fruits;
Love is the sweet sunshine
That warms into life,
For only in darkness
Grow hatred and strife.
-Kind Hearts by Unknown-
No one hates when someone being kind to them. Kindness is a language that even a baby can understand. It is simple, yet has a profound impact. Kindness is the quality of being gentle, considerate, helpful, generous. Kindness is simply doing something pleasant and helpful for the sake of others.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate kindest man ever lived on earth. One day Jesus went into the town of Jericho and was about to pass through it. In this town, there lived a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short, he could not see him over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But despite of all their grumblings, Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10, paraphrased)
For the Jews at that time, tax-collector was an occupation for sinners. Because the tax-collectors were Jews also, but they worked for Roman government to claim the taxes of their fellow nation. Tax-collector was regarded as betrayer of their own nation. It got worse because usually the nominal being asked for them to pay for tax was much higher than what was required by the government. That was the source of the tax-collectors’ profit and wealth. Zacchaeus was not only a tax-collector, but he was a chief tax-collector. Imagine the head of the outcast! So, he was hated so much because of what he did for living. Moreover, his physical appearance made him less attractive than others. He was short. But the interesting part is this: Jesus, the all-knowing God himself, knew his presence on the top of the tree. To add it up, he said that he MUST stay for a night in his home. This gesture showed that Jesus did not regard Zacchaeus as people need to be isolated as most people did. He accepted Zacchaeus for who he was (even when he had not repented yet). Jesus showed a mind-blowing kindness when Zacchaeus did not deserve it.
Another beautiful part came next was the response of Zacchaeus who welcome Jesus gladly and went further by his willingness to give away his money and give back four times of the tax he had claimed in his life. This was a generous gift and showed that Zacchaeus treasured Jesus more than all his treasures. Compare this event with the story of rich man who was reluctant to let go his wealth to follow Jesus (Mat 19:21-22). The life of Zacchaeus changed completely because of one touch of kindness of Jesus. Jesus also responded Zacchaeus by giving the most priceless gift: the salvation of Zacchaeus and his family.
Kindness changes everything. Whenever kindness is given to the undeserving ones, it becomes a nudge of love for them to go back to the way of God. Of course, not everybody may respond our kindness in a good way as Zacchaeus did. There are also people who will reject our kindness, take it for granted, and ungrateful. But the true focus of kindness is never to get anything in return, even the word of gratitude such as “thank you.” The focus of kindness is simply we want to reflect the kindness we have already received from God by extending it to others. It is always about receiving from God and giving to others. By doing so we become the extension of the hands of God to touch many lives with his kindness. There is nothing that can make us more like Jesus than when we love and do good to others.
Therefore, be kind. Because every person we meet day by day perhaps is facing unimaginable problems that weigh them down. Be kind. Because kindness changes everything. Kindness can turn enemy into friends. Kindness can mend a broken relationship. Kindness can carve a smile in the face of a stranger. Kindness can turn sorrow into joy. Be kind, then. Because God first has been good to us.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8
Just a kind word or a greeting;
Just a warm grasp or a smile—
These are the flowers that will lighten
The burdens for many a mile.
– Leigh M. Hodges
Photos in courtesy of Jennifer Phelps Photography