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The difference between natural kindness and Christian kindness

Unsplash/Randalyn Hill
Unsplash/Randalyn Hill

Are you a kind person? If so, what motivates you to be kind to others? A travel blog posed the following question along with their answer: “Who are the top five kindest people on earth?” 

1. Thai
2. Scots
3. Kiwis (New Zealand)
4. Moroccans
5. Brazilians

You have undoubtedly met plenty of kind people over the years. After all, God created man in his own image, and so it is no wonder that many human beings practice kindness.

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Obviously, you don’t have to be a Christian in order to demonstrate kindness. In fact, some unbelievers show more kindness than certain Christians. So what’s up? 

The biggest difference between natural kindness and Christian kindness is the source. For many unbelievers, behaving in a kind manner just seems like the right thing to do. And it definitely makes the world a better place. Acts of kindness are always a refreshing source of encouragement.

For the Christian, the fifth item Scripture lists as “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) is kindness. Christian kindness flows supernaturally within the soul of someone who is saved, redeemed, born again, justified and forgiven. As long as we stay out of the way, there is plenty of kindness within our hearts as believers. But whenever we allow our sinful nature to hold sway over us even for a few moments, we are more than capable of being terribly unkind.

You may at times wonder, “How could I have recently behaved in such an unkind manner?” It is easy to do. In fact, here is a simple recipe for practicing unkindness. Rather than saying “No” to your selfish desires (Titus 2:11,12) just give into them. Hold grudges. Look down on people and treat them with disrespect. You will be harboring a mean spirit in no time if you let your guard down and give into the desires of your sinful nature.

Christians desire to be kind primarily because of how kind and merciful God has been to us. The Lord has forgiven our sins even though we do not deserve to be forgiven. God has freely given us the gift of eternal life in Heaven (Romans 6:23). And for what? Did we do something to merit God’s kindness toward us? Of course not. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It was the love of God that brought about our eternal salvation.

And it was “God’s kindness that led us toward repentance” (Romans 2:4). We are in his family today, tomorrow and forever. And he has “put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (1 Corinthians 1:22). This guarantee produces tremendous motivation to be kind. Our kindness as Christians is rooted in God’s love for us in Christ.

Man’s natural assumption is that he can be kind enough and nice enough to make it into Heaven. In reality, there is only one act of kindness that has the power to wash away sins, and that is the kindness God demonstrated toward us when he sent his only Son to suffer and die on the cross for our salvation. (1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:9; Hebrews 9:28).

Apart from the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, there is no forgiveness and no salvation. “If righteousness could be gained through the Law, Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21). Man is incapable of earning his way into Heaven, regardless of how kind and loving he is toward others. Our righteousness would have to be perfect in order for God to accept us, and only in Christ are we seen as perfect in God’s eyes. “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

Do you want to receive the kindness of God in the person of Jesus Christ? You can actually rise above natural kindness to a spiritual reality the Bible describes as being “seated with Christ in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6). Once you receive the kindness of God by trusting Jesus to forgive your sins, you will instantly be motivated to be kind to others because of how kind God has been to you. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

We often get a brief snapshot of a person’s life by a positive or negative experience we have with them, but only God can see whether or not Christ lives within them (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 13:5). If you encounter a Christian who is having an unkind moment, you might assume that he or she is an unbeliever. Likewise, if you encounter an unbeliever who is having a kind moment, you might assume that he or she is a Christian.

While the world is better off when people practice acts of kindness, Heaven is populated only with those who accept God’s kindness toward them in the death and resurrection of his only Son.

If you have not yet done so, will you receive Jesus as your Savior today? God’s Christmas gift to you is one you will be able to enjoy forever. But only if you open your gift. You can trust Christ today as you receive his free gift.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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