Down through the centuries the followers of Christ have set examples of being kind through their service to humanity all over the world. Numerous hospitals, orphanages, schools, and colleges in places where there was no health care and proper education are examples of kindness that is integral to the followers of Christ.
Kindness is love in action. In 1 Corinthians 13:4 Saint Paul wrote, ‘Love is patient and is kind….’ If Christian love is a coin, then patience and kindness are the two sides of that coin. A coin cannot exist unless it has two sides! This also means that real kindness proceeds from real love.
Love comes in different flavors and not all produce kindness. Then what kind of love would lead to kindness? First, there is contemplative love, where love is a feeling. This love seeks and cherishes all that is lovable. Human beings have the tremendous capacity to love anything, even animals of various kinds. Humans are the only creatures who keep pets! Such love does not move beyond the thoughts or feelings of love to action. Contemplative love is thus impotent. Renowned Indian writer, Sudhir Kakar narrates the story of dog-couple. A car ran over a stray dog (bitch). Her partner sniffed to check if she is alive. Knowing there was no life left in her, he just walked away. Later that dog was found in the company of another bitch. Contemplative love is nothing beyond the love this dog showed. The followers of Christ who busied themselves in serving humanity cherished a love that springs in to action.
Second, congenial love. This is love for the things that a person likes, especially of the same kind. Congenial love cannot love people of different likes, looks, or class. Though congenial love may be lavished on the persons whom we like, particularly our own people, it cannot go beyond the barrier of race, culture, or language. It may also express itself as xenophobia, the fear of the other. The disciples of Jesus who travelled across the nations to serve the poor and the needy of people other than their own showed a different type of love. Their love crossed the barriers of race, language, and regions.
Thirdly, there is the outgoing love which turns feelings to action to love those who are not of ones like and looks. This is the love that God showed by loving the entire fallen humanity. Jesus told us that God ‘… makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust’ (Matt 5:48). Jesus exemplifies outgoing love in his ministry. The miracles he did were not merely displays of his power but acts of kindness, springing from his outgoing love. Jesus did not just feel sorry for the sick (contemplative love), but he healed the sick (act of kindness). Jesus did not heal only the Jews (his own people) but all sorts of people including Samaritans (Luke 17), Syrophoenicians (Mark 7:26), Romans (Matthew 8), and so on.
This is the secret of kindness, which is the Fruit of the Spirit; an outgoing love which God’s only Son showed by his coming to a people who are not his kind, rendering service which they did not deserve and dying a death which, they should have died! This explains acts of kindness followers of Christ showed and should be the model for Christians today.