“[The leprous man said] ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.”
~Luke 5:12b-13 (NIV).
There is nothing more astounding in the kindness of Jesus than his many gospel-recorded miracles, and the pre and post state of the subjects of these miracles. Never is Jesus found healing someone from bankruptcy—Jesus touches lepers and heals cripples. Jesus is healing people in afflictions 1) well beyond their own making, and 2) because they’re truly needy.
And this is good news for us in our needs for healing, because despite our best efforts we still need the kindness of God’s grace to bring us through.
Unpacking the Virtue of Kindness
As we sweep through our Bibles, taking in the fifty or sixty or so times the word “kindness” is used, we notice immediately that it’s about acts of grace—the undeserved favour that is issued without a moment’s compunction.
Kindness comes out of the many stories in the Old Testament, and God’s kindness is spoken about frequently in the psalms. Certainly God’s kindness was never better illustrated than via the “incomparable riches of his grace” in giving Jesus over to death, for us and our sin—that we might be saved from eternal death (Ephesians 2:7).
We quickly find at our ticket-stop tour of ‘kindness’ that it’s very indicatively a visible matter out of the heart close to God’s own heart.
Jesus’ Kindness (and Compassion) and Ours
Jesus was nothing if not kind. We’ve noted that his miracles were all vaunted with kindness—the response of a compassionate man.
And perhaps this is a good way to view kindness in terms of compassion... we act kindly from a compassionate heart. A person who’s concerned about a particular other person’s plight will not feel vindicated, personally, unless or until they act in kindness toward them.
Here we see compassion as the root of the kindness, for kindness without genuine compassion driving it would be Pharisaic kindness—a dispassionate kindness; one that would be reprehensible in God’s sight.
This does take us back to compassion—the heart that’s torn by the plight of less-well-off others, or better, by the real needs of others.
Jesus, again, was the master of intercession in terms of the practical help the needy needed. Where is our intercession at? Is it a term we use about a particular form of prayer and that’s all?
Real intercession makes its way out of our prayer life.
We’re called to be kind, and we cannot be authentically kind without being compassionate. Let this be the prayer of our hearts; that God’s compassion would take up loose space in ours.
Kindness always has about it the ability to reduce the burdens of others. Let this be our test as to the gauge we use in alleviating the burdens of those within our circle of influence.
(This was the second article of a five-part series to look at the ‘clothing of love’ so far as Jesus is concerned out of Colossians 3:12-14. The first was on Jesus’ compassion. Further articles in the series will look at Jesus’ humility, gentleness and patience.)
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.