When you and I observe how human beings treat one another, there are occasions when we are appalled by people’s lack of common courtesy and thoughtfulness. On the other hand, there are a lot of kind people in the world, too.
Each one of us has been blessed by the kindness and courtesy of others. Most of us have been treated kindly so many times that we could not possibly recall each instance of such. Perhaps we would be challenged to give a specific, technical definition of “kindness” or “courtesy,” but we know them when we see them, do we not?
Jesus said that even those folks who do not serve Him know how to love one another and do good to others (Luke 6:32-34). I personally have been blessed by the courtesy and helpfulness of atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus. It does not prove they are in a saved relationship with God, but unbelievers can show some admirable qualities.
No one, however, should outdo the courtesy and kindness of Christians. God’s people ought to be the most kind and thoughtful people in the world. And, in our dealings with our brothers and sisters in the Christ, treating one another with kindness and courtesy ought to come as naturally to us as the desire to drink water when we are thirsty.
God’s message for His children is, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). It is written, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8). The process of maturing as a Christian includes growing in our demonstration of brotherly kindness (2 Peter 1:7).
Two quick observations: (1) The charge to be kind and courteous is for every child of God and (2) the Lord wants such qualities to be expressed two- directionally, that is, we are to show them to one another. It is easy to be nice to those saints who are nice to us. It is more challenging to be thoughtful and kind when others are rude or arrogant.
There is no excuse for the disciples of Jesus not being kind to each other. “I am not feeling well/did not have enough sleep.” That is no excuse for rudeness. “I had a horrible day at work.” That is no excuse for being unkind. “He started it – I am just giving him back some of his own medicine.” Does that really sound like such a person is acting like the Son of God? “He has such a pushy personality: he gets on everybody’s nerves with his constant criticism.” That is no excuse for me to tell myself, “I do not like his personality, so I can be unkind to him.” In God’s family, what opportunities do we have to show kindness and courtesy to each other?
We can be kind and thoughtful in our dealings with our older members, helping them with transportation, giving them a patient, listening ear, or even assisting them in getting to their seat in the worship assembly.
We can show kindness to the orphans and widows among us (James 1:27). We can step up and help those saints who have material needs (Matthew 25:34-45).
We can show courtesy to brethren from other congregations, perhaps even other parts of the world, who visit our assemblies. We can be kind to those who recently lost a loved one (Romans 12:15). If you and I have experienced such a painful loss, we know what grieving folks are going through.
We can be kind to those saints who may face challenges speaking in a language that is not their mother tongue. We can show kindness to a sister or brother who comes to services with a frown on their face because they have had a bad day.
Question: If other people are not kind to me, does the Lord really expect me to be kind to them? He sure does! Our kindness and courtesy ought to be unconditional. We are to treat folks in the right way, regardless of their behavior. Our heavenly Father is kind to the godly and ungodly alike, and He wants us to be like Him (Matthew 5:45).
Question: How can I be kind to a brother or sister who has hurt me badly? Practice “the Golden Rule” of Matthew 7:12. It may take a special effort in some cases. We need to strive to have the mind/mentality of the Christ (Philippians 2:5), who did not try to retaliate or return evil for evil (1 Peter 2:21-23).
Question: If a person is kind, does that guarantee he/she is saved and will go to heaven? One who is not kind cannot please God; yet, one can be kind and still be lost outside of Jesus. One must be in the Christ and walk in submission to Him in order to have His blood wash away their sins (Colossians 1:14; 1 John 1:7).
Question: Some brethren are sound in their teaching, but not very kind in how they deal with others. Since they teach the truth, does it matter that they are unkind? It matters! An ugly spirit can kill a person’s influence. Being kind is mandatory for all saints . . . no exceptions (Ephesians 4:32).
— Roger D. Campbell