American author Henry James once said, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Henry James apparently placed great importance on kindness. Kindness is shown in an attitude of care and concern for others, especially those who are weak, poor, or in need. A synonym for kindness is compassion. Compassion is shown by God to His people (Isaiah 63:7). And compassion is something that is seen in the character of Jesus Christ. This compassion is spoken of in the gospel accounts, in verses such as Matthew 9:36 (NIV), which says that when Jesus saw the crowds who gathered as He made His way through their towns and villages, “he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
God’s Word makes it very clear that kindness, or compassion, is important in the life of a believer. It is counted as one of the fruit of the Spirit, which are characteristics that must take root in our lives (Galatians 5:22). In his letter to the believers in Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote that we must be kind to one another, we must be compassionate and must forgive, just as God forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Paul mentioned kindness again in Colossians 3:12, pointing out that in addition to such virtues as humility and patience, we must clothe ourselves with a heart of kindness. In 1 Peter 3:8, Peter exhorts us to be like-minded, sympathetic, and compassionate.
Kindness is something that believers must show to one another, but it doesn’t stop there. God wants us to be kind, or compassionate, to all. We should display kindness, or compassion, to the sick, to the needy, to those who mourn, to those who are alone, and to those who are oppressed. And we must display kindness, or compassion, to people we don’t like, and even to our enemies. We are commanded in Scripture to love our neighbor, and our neighbor includes anyone with whom we come in contact who is in need. Jesus illustrated this in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Although Samaritans and Jews despised each other, it was a Samaritan who, upon seeing a Jewish man who had been robbed and beaten lying on the side of the road, felt compassion and took care of the beaten man (Luke 10:30-35).
My prayer is that all believers will show the kindness, or compassion, of the Good Samaritan, the kindness, the compassion that comes from God, not just to each other but to all who need it.