As we move on in our discussion of the Spiritual gifts, we look this week at kindness. A thesaurus will give a number of synonyms for the adjective “kind,” such as nice, friendly, hospitable, thoughtful, pleasant, and so on. But the noun version of “kind” implies a similarity in class or grouping: “That’s not the kind of person I am,” and is used to form the word, “kindred,” which means family.
When we talk about kindness as a Spiritual gift, it is that noun sense of the word, I think, that gives rise to all of the synonyms for the adjective “kind.” In other words, when I see that a person is one of my kind, I am much more able to be friendly and hospitable, or kind.
Perhaps that is why kindness is listed as a spiritual gift, because thinking of others who have harmed or hurt us, or those with whom we sharply disagree on a matter, or even those who use words against us, as one of our “kind” is not something that any of us do naturally. It requires the work of the Spirit.
When our first, natural response to unpleasantness from others is to respond with unpleasant words and actions of our own, whether to defend ourselves or counter-attack, we need the Spiritual gift of kindness to help us see a different way, and act kindly.
This same principle is at work when we are able to see and listen to the stories of the down and out in the world. If we view them as somehow lesser than we are, or lower on some sort of hierarchy, we are likely to be dismissive or maybe even rude towards them. But if we can see them as a Child of God, as one of our kind, then we can find the compassion to be kind to them, and to recognize them as fellow travelers in need of a helping hand.
And so the Spiritual gift of kindness reveals itself when we are able, with God’s eyes, to see others – our friends, our “enemies,” the strangers and the downcast – as fellow members of God’s family, God’s kind.
Blessings to you this week, and may your worship of God be blessed with God’s Spirit this week, and may you be kind.