September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.”—Proverbs 11:17 (NIV)_
Have you ever been part of a “pay it forward” experiment while in a drive-thru line? The car in front pays for your order and you then pay for the car behind you. Now, I won’t judge if you’re the person who stopped it from going forward. Maybe you felt pressured to keep the chain going, or perhaps you were truly touched by the person in front of you who reminded you to pay it forward.
When you think of it, generosity is a form of exhibiting kindness. And when the motivation is authentic, the person demonstrating kindness never expects anything in return. But when reading today’s verse out of context, we may think we should fake kindness so we can get something out of it. However, that isn’t the case at all!
Did you know our physical and mental health benefit from a good old chain of kindness? Science has proven a simple act of kindness increases self-esteem, empathy. and compassion. Research also shows that when we practice kindness regularly, it can also decrease our blood pressure and cortisol. Additionally, it boosts serotonin and dopamine, giving us feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing, as well as releasing endorphins. Finally, when we choose kindness, it helps us stay connected with others causing less loneliness and more community.
It’s no surprise we live in a cruel world with a desperate need for kind people to be present. We’re inundated with constant news about scandals, murders, kidnappings, theft, corruption, etc. People everywhere find multiple reasons to cause divisions and excuse isolation. Every day, we have a choice to be treated the way we’ve been treated in the past or to treat others the way we hope to be treated (Luke 6:31). It’s an everyday battle having to choose kindness when cruelty is what we may have experienced from others and an unkind word is the easiest reaction to get back at them. Or, perhaps, we simply just want to have the final word.
Kindness shouldn’t be determined by our circumstances. Being kind to those who love us isn’t exercising any untoned muscle, but to extend it to someone who isn’t as loving, that’s the true test. Someone must break the chain of cruelty and, as representatives of Christ, we’re called to be that person. As His ambassadors, we’re to share the good news with those who don’t know Him—and the best way to do that is to exercise the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) and show them the real Christ because they will know Him by our love (John 13:35).
True kindness doesn’t put on a show because in the greater scheme it isn’t about us or how good we are. The reason to choose kindness should never be to receive a reward. If you think of it, you could be that person stuck paying for multiple coffee beverages when the person in front of you only paid for one—yours! If you immediately regret offering to pay when you find out how much that final bill is, your intentions might not have been as pure as you thought they were.
We must believe the true reward of spreading kindness is so others can experience the love of Jesus and, if not doing so already, will follow Him no matter the cost. After all, kindness isn’t just contagious, it’s our best medicine to cure this sick world!
Pause: Think of the last time one random act of kindness sparked multiple acts of kindness. How did that make you feel?
Practice: Ask yourself how you’re going to practice kindness today. Be watchful of opportunities to be kind and show the love of Jesus.
Pray: Lord, thank You for being the perfect example of kindness on this earth. You know how to love unconditionally and purely. I want to be more like You! I need You every second of the day to remind me to extend Your love to others. Help me to not follow my emotions when I’m angry, sad, or anxious, but to follow You. Please forgive me for those times I haven’t represented You well. I rest in You today. Amen.