This year’s UK mental health awareness week theme is kindness. Centring on the small acts of kindness that have been so important and heartening to hear of throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the message is clear: kindness is good. Really good. Or to give it it’s hashtag, #kindnessmatters.
You don’t have to argue this much – we seem to innately know that it matters. And we see it too – acts of kindness can have a profound impact on all levels, from simply lifting someone’s mood, to saving their life.
The world knows kindness matters, but does it understand why? As Christians, we can speak powerfully into this, both to others and to ourselves. Here then are non-exhaustive 4 reasons why we as Christians know kindness matters.
God’s kindness accepts us in weakness
Today we have to be the best at everything it seems – work, family, sex, cooking. It’s exhausting! And we’re not up to it. The mental health movement knows that people need to be less hard on themselves – it’s ok not to be able. You can’t do everything. You can’t be everything.
What a mercy it is that God knows this. Psalm 103:14 says that
‘He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.’
God made us – of course he knows what we are and aren’t capable of! And he doesn’t ask of us more than we can manage.
When the world demands of you more than you can give, look to God to who accepts you in your weakness.
God’s kindness means we are forgiven
Being weak doesn’t just mean we can’t do everything – it also means we make mistakes, or do things we shouldn’t. The world asks us to be perfect, and then casts us out at the first mistake. You only need to look at the many falls of celebrities to know the unforgiving spirit of our current age.
Such a spirit might make us want to hide our mistakes away, both from others and God. But we don’t need to hide away – 1 John 1:9 says that
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins’.
This is wonderful kindness. When that voice tells you you’ve really messed up this time, know that nothing you can do is unforgiveable if you come to your loving and merciful God.
God’s kindness empowers our kindness
Kindness feels good, both when we extend it, and when we receive it. The problem is, we don’t always feel like being kind. We might be tired, had a bad day, or received unkindness. In that moment, from what reserves do you draw on to continue being kind?
If from my own reserves, I simply stop being kind. But according to Colossians 3:12, we are called clothe ourselves with kindness, ‘as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved’. What this shows is my reserves come from someone I am, and something I know: first, I am ‘holy’ – something has changed inside me, I have a new heart, clean and pure enabling me to love; and secondly, I am ‘dearly loved’ – the knowledge and feeling of being loved is a powerful motivator to love others, and when that love comes from the Creator of the universe, I can put selfishness away and be kind even when I don’t feel like it.
The greatest kindness ever was God giving himself to us
That phrase ‘dearly loved’ – how do we know that? When I don’t feel that God loves me, how do I still know it? Through this:
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
The greatest act of kindness ever known was the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for you and I. And it wasn’t just a grand gesture, it was lifesaving, for
‘when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy’ (Titus 3:4-5).
Saved to enjoy eternal life with a God who loves us with overwhelming kindness, so much so that he wouldn’t even spare himself so that we could be with him.
Kindness really does matter. Without kindness, there would be no hope. But with it, there is everything – acceptance, forgiveness, strength and life.
Maybe the kindest thing you can do for yourself today is remember that yes, your small acts of kindness really matter, but they are incomparable to the amazing kindness your loving God has shown, shows and will always show you.