The month of February is usually associated with hearts, love and St. Valentine's Day. Since the publication of Wonder, by R.J. Palacio in 2012, February has become linked to another word: KINDNESS.
The book tells the tale of Auggie, a young boy born with a craniofacial deformity, who has been homeschooled for most of his life. When he enters 5th grade, however, his family decides to try the local elementary school, Beecher Prep. What takes place inside those walls makes up the rest of the story, a story ultimately about the importance of simply being kind, and realizing everyone around you needs empathy.
Wonder has been on the bestseller list for the last 5 years, and launched the CHOOSE KIND campaign.
So, we should ask ourselves, do we know what it means to be kind? It seems a simple question, right? But being kind is much more than just being "nice." The word "kind" is sprinkled liberally throughout the Bible. It is usually attached to another word - "loving"- so that you may see "lovingkindness" used fairly frequently to describe how God acts towards us.
In the book of Nehemiah, we read "You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them." The prophet Isaiah writes "I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion, And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses. (Isaiah 54:8)
The Psalms also frequently refer to the lovingkindness of the Lord. Psalm 117 says "In an outburst of anger, I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you," Says the LORD your Redeemer." Psalm 63 writes "For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!" Psalm 63 even says "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You."
These are just a few of many, many examples where Scripture refers to the lovingkindness of God. What exactly is meant by God's lovingkindness? The prophet Jeremiah gives us some insight. He writes "The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness." (Jeremiah 31:3) So, when we talk of lovingkindness in the Bible, we know a couple of things. First of all, it is attractive and attracting! God uses this attribute to draw people to him. Have you ever considered that you are naturally drawn to people who are kind? This is an attribute of the Lord. Secondly, God's lovingkindness is everlasting. It is part of the eternal I AM. We can depend upon it. It will not cease or fail, because God does not grow tired and weary, or even just bored, like we do.
So, when we practice kindness, not necessarily because people deserve or don't deserve it, but because we are moved by compassion and empathy, we are imitating one of the attributes of God.
Kindness = an act of compassion, an act of assistance, service, help or aid. 2. The quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. To be "kind" is not the same as being "nice." Being nice is usually just a nod and a wave. Not much is asked of us. But being kind requires more of us. It asks us to look upon others as God sees them, and to act towards them as God acts. It requires a movement of the heart, that usually leads to a movement in the words we speak or the actions we take. Being kind means that we often have to overcome ourselves, maybe still those quick words we we were going to say, maybe get up and help that person over there.
During the month of February, let's think about how we reflect that "lovingkindness" we see in the Bible - a response from GOd that we don not earn or deserve, but is given because of who GOd is. This month, let's CHOOSE KINDNESS.
Being kind requires a movement of the heart.