It is easy to be kind to nice people. Being kind to someone who is kind to you is easy. It is easy to be kind when it does not cost you or require much time. Is that really genuine kindness? I want to challenge us to think about genuine kindness.
An example of this is seen In 2 Samuel 9. David gives Mephibosheth land that had belonged to his grandfather and then invites him to eat with him. Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father, and David were friends. David had made a promise to Jonathan and that carried to his offspring.
Who is Mephibosheth? He was Jonathan’s son, King Saul’s grandson. Remember Saul had tried to kill David about 10 times. Mephibosheth was disabled. When he was five years old, his nurse took him and fled as news of the death of Saul and Jonathan came to her. In her haste to flee Mephibosheth fell and became lame. Now 15 years later Mephibosheth is living in Lo Debar which in Hebrew means “no thing”. So basically he is living nowhere. No one seems to know him. He was most likely trying to stay hidden and just stay alive. While hiding out he is summoned to come before the king. Maybe this will be the end?
David gave him protection, provision, and position. Mephibosheth went from living in hiding to eating at the king’s table because of what David did. How can our actions change other’s lives?
What can we learn from David?
1. The motivation for kindness. David’s motivation was to show the kindness of God. David had made a promise to Jonathan. In 2 Samuel 9:1 he is looking to show kindness for Jonathan’s sake. Jonathan had helped to save his life. David’s motivation was to show God’s kindness. What motivates your kindness?
2. Kindness can require a risk. The recipient of the kindness was an enemy or a rival. This was Saul’s grandson. David was now the king and some of Saul’s family had tried to keep the throne. Ish-bosheth had been king of Israel. David’s kindness was risky. David was able to take this risk because he was secure knowing that God had promised the throne to David. Are you willing to take a risk and be kind?
3. Kindness is for the other person and not our gain. Mephibosheth was disabled. He did not have much that he could offer to David. It was not like he could return the favour. There was nothing that Mephibosheth could do for David. Kindness is done not for what we can get but for what we can give. Are you kind without expecting something in return?
4. Kindness can be costly. David returned all that belonged to Saul to Mephibosheth. Furthermore, he ate at David’s table. So this can cost you. It might be money or your time. Are you willing to give what it takes to be kind?
David is a model, a shadow of what is to come. This story of David really gives us a picture of God’s kindness.
God’s ultimate kindness is seen through Christ
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:3-5
The motivation for God’s kindness is who he is, God is love. In this passage Paul calls us foolish, disobedient, slaves. We were enemies of God. Yet he showed us loving kindness. We have no righteousness. There is nothing that we can do, we have nothing to offer but depend on God’s kindness. Finally, this was costly. It cost Christ his life.
Don’t confuse being nice with being kind. Understand what it really means to be kind. As you understand who God is and what he has done for you, how do you reflect that to those around you?
As I think about this in my own life, I like to fit kindness into my schedule, when it works for me. After this study, I have been challenged to be willing to take risks and pay the cost. It is worth it.
This post has a bit more information about this topic.