The Kindness Of People—Or Not

News reports tell of heated moments in grocery stores as tension rises because of empty shelves and long lines. I heard of one woman in particular who berated a stock guy (a nice way of saying, she cussed him out) because they hadn’t refilled the shelves with the item (I think it was toilet paper) she wanted.

That seems over the top, but I just did a search on YouTube for a video of the incident, and found instead dozens and dozens of other altercations between store or gas station or restaurant workers and their customers. All those had nothing to do with the fear-driven reactions of today.

In some cases, the outrage had racial implications because of language or ethnicity. In others the anger was directed at a person’s political stance. In a few, the inciting issue was some person’s disability—stuttering or inability to hear. And some were directed at an individual who made a mistake or who didn’t perform up to expectations.

None of those altercations came from a spirit of kindness.

Certainly kindness was not the motivating factor that caused the customer to berate the stock person for empty shelves.

How unlike the encounters I’ve had this past week. A number of caring individuals—some neighbors, some friends—have called to check up on how I’m doing and whether I needed anything. One couple came out in the rain to bring me some supplies, just because they are kind.

When I did have to wait in the long grocery line last Friday, three or four of us had a pleasant time chatting and watching each other’s cart or basket when the need arose. The overworked clerk and bag person were both pleasant and appreciative (and exhausted) and obviously working to their max to move people through the line as fast as possible.

In truth, kindness is a choice. People can choose to be kind to whomever they want. But the fact is, if we focus on what we want, and don’t consider what the other person is faced with, we most likely will pass up an opportunity to show kindness.

Kindness does not come naturally. In some instances, people respond to kindness with kindness. That’s not always true, but it’s more likely that a kindness will generate a return kindness than a harsh or cruel comment or act, will.

In the case of the public, many people are “neutral.” They stay to themselves, not responding harshly and not responding kindly. Just not responding.

I find it interesting that Scripture calls the Christian specifically to kindness—along with a list of other transforming responses which should govern our relationships:

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:12-13; emphasis mine)

At the same time, kindness is listed as a fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23; emphasis mine)

So kindness is both something God gives Christians and something He wants us to choose. Sort of like quenching or not quenching the Spirit, I suspect. Yes, we have kindness as a fruit, but we need to decide to use what we have.

Maybe that’s something we can pray for—for ourselves and for other believers who are in our lives. Because in theory, Christians are best equipped to show kindness and ought to do so no matter the responses of others.

And praying for God to enable us to use the gift He’s given us certainly takes care of the “praying according to God’s will” issue. I mean, I don’t know if it’s God’s will for me to catch the virus and suffer because of it, or to be quarantined for some time, or to get along without something I thought I needed. But I do know with certainty that I am to show kindness. Not just to those who are kind to me, but to the neutral people and the cruel people, too.

Also in Scripture: “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1a). The KJV translates gentle as soft. In other words, not responding to anger with anger. That’s a tough one, but this is God’s counsel. We can be sure it’s right.

Published in: on March 18, 2020 at 4:54 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments

  1. I agree. We need to be kind to each other. Our world had changed. New world need us to be kind to each other. We must lead with concern, kindness and listen. If we work together. We can survive and be wiser. This is a deadly lesson for the Governments of our world. We must help each other and forget war. Time for human kindness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I suppose it’s always been time for human kindness, John. I think periods of crisis either divide or unite. It’s interesting to see what people are trending toward as the seriousness of this virus situation develops. The first answer is for people to turn to God. Throughout the Old Testament, Scripture repeats that hardship, war, tragedy came so that they would “know the LORD.” I don’t think this time is any different in that respect. We have an opportunity to make God known, in part through our kindness.

      Thanks for adding to this discussion.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree Rebecca. Hard days make us see the truth. We learn what is important. Like the old saying. Soldiers find God in the foxholes.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard stories of rudeness in the stores, but mostly I’ve encountered courtesy, if not full-fledged kindness. In fact, I’d say that the people in Walmart have been more polite than usual to one another, in spite of bare shelves. J.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re so right about kindness being a choice, as is every Christ-like behavior, It’s not dependent upon our feelings. Truth is, we have no idea what kind of day that unpleasant person is having, and (s)he made be the one MOST in need of kindness.
    I’m so glad I could read this post. Whatever the reason, I am unable to connect with about half of the bloggers I follow right now, and consequently am unable to “like” or comment on some of their excellent posts. I hope some of them see this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your feedback, Ann. I really appreciate your encouraging comments. Hopefully you’ll be able to connect with others soon.

      Becky

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