Would we be better off as a society if we embraced “Be Kind”?

I’ve recently seen several people with a shirt on proudly emblazoned with the phrase, “Be kind” or “Be nice.” It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just be kind! That makes so much sense. We’d have a much happier society if we were all just nicer. Right?

It sounds great except for this small thing called “definitions.” What does it mean to be kind? And does it mean different things to different people? I must have missed the memo, but it seems as if this is officially the 11th commandment that has been introduced into the canon of Christianity 10 minutes ago. If you were to speak to many Christians these days, I’d say they most definitely got this imaginary memo.

What’s your interpretation?

The biggest problem with throwing around the phrase, “Be kind” is that it leaves so much up to interpretation and doesn’t really consider context. For example, imagine someone is out walking their dog and another person comes up out of nowhere to shove them off of their normal walking path, coming at them screaming and waving their arms like a crazy. Additionally they’re vehemently bossing them around, telling that person to turn back around on the path and get home.

More than anything, it sure would seem as if the person doing the shoving is extremely rude. Definitely not the kind thing to do, and actually a bit looney. What’s the big deal? A person minding their own business, walking their dog shouldn’t give anyone cause to shove and yell at said person! And besides, they’re in the dog owner’s own neighborhood. Nothing is currently happening, and the chances of anything happening in the near future seems bogus at best. As well as the fact that said person knows what they’re doing, no need to freak out and try to impose someone else’s fears or convictions on them.

Looking further up the road

But what if you later find out that the shoving person had just come from further up the routine walking path of that dog walker and knew he was about to step into the view of some lions. Perhaps the crazy person didn’t have a chance to fully communicate everything, but she was just trying to protect that person and their dog from imminent danger. Would that, and for that matter SHOULD that, change your perception of the shoving maniac? Would that gesture of shoving and yelling now be considered “kind”?

Being kind is not always clear cut

Being kind is always a posture that we should be fulling embracing. But again, being nice is clearly not always straight forward. Sometimes being nice, with or without the full context, falls flat and doesn’t work. Other times, your kindness is received the wrong way. At the end of the day, being kind can be perceived in a variety of ways, depending on who’s receiving the “kindness” and whether or not they appreciate the actions or words imposed. Which can be very frustrating!

What about, “Be holy”?

You know what I was thinking would be a much better phrase to have on a shirt? How about “Be Holy”? Or what about “Be Righteous”? Does that sound a bit harsh? Well, initially it did to me (anyone else?). And even though I agreed with the sentiment, it still felt a bit overbearing and self righteous. But after thinking about it, I realized that as a Believer, our goal is to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16), not to be kind/nice. Obviously not to the to exclusion of kindness, but we must be sure to set our priorities straight.

Our world is all about affirming what feels good or right to us, or to others around us. Everything is subjective and there is no objective Truth. In other words, if we can go back to our example from above, the “nice” thing to do in the make-believe subjective world we live in is to never point out the offending lion. “Who cares?” is what most would say. The person walking their dog just wants to be left alone and in peace! They are walking in their truth of a safe and secure neighborhood with no lions. Stop that fear-mongering! Besides, pointing out the lion could be perceived as bigoted. Or maybe someone would say it’s racist. Or “fill-in-the-blank”-phobic. Just be NICE! Don’t be such a crazy jerk.

But in reality, the “nice” thing to do is grounded in truth. And the holy, good, and righteous choice in a dangerous situation where harm is coming in the general direction of someone who may not know, is to tell them the truth. Even when the Truth may hurt. And even when the truth goes against the immediate perception of the person we’re trying to reach.

There really is a lion out there

There certainly is a lion around us all, and he is ready and eager to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). I pray we listen to God’s Word, and focus more on being holy than we are being kind.

You know who is a great example of someone elevating holiness over “kindness”? Nate Saint. He could have been nice and just left those Auca’s alone all those years ago. Those people were fine! Why try and intrude on their culture? Except for the inconvenient fact that they speared each other frequently as well as any intruder who came their way. But whatever, those are just incidental details, right? In any event, those natives of Ecuador wanted to be left alone, so it would have been much nicer for Mr. Saint and his friends to have stayed away. But praise God, Nate Saint and 4 other men chose to be “holy” and obedient rather than exclusively being “kind.” And I guarantee, those Auca’s are so thankful they made that choice.

I pray we all follow this example, and ultimately Christ’s example. We are to be holy as He is holy. Amen?

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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