“For His merciful kindness is great toward us…” (Psalms 117:2).
His blue-gray eyes seesaw between the dirt path and my face as he walks away from the dugout. I watch his lips hesitate to curl, his guilt urging him to conceal joy.
The unexpected kindness from moments before confuses him. I confess—I don’t understand it either. My son’s defiant behavior earlier in the game should have left kindness out of the question and yet, it didn’t.
My son received the game ball we both know he didn’t deserve and I’m stumped by the coach’s choice to give a reward to my son that he didn’t earn.
Kindness isn’t supposed to hand out a prize when behavior deserves a punishment, right?
What does it mean to be kind?
The worn out baseball has me questioning kindness altogether. Cause, you see, the world we live in tends to throw kindness towards someone ready to catch it.
Holding a door open for someone… Complimenting your coworker… Making a meal for a sick neighbor…
We aren’t often kind to the one throwing dirt in our face or to those unable to pass a kind deed on to others.
But what if we did? What if kindness looked less like a smooth play in the infield and more like a hit out of the park and into the unknown?
What if we took kindness beyond random acts and earned moments and gave it more freely not because we wanted to, but because those struggling most in the world needed us to?
Being kind to others can start with random acts of kindness, but it shouldn’t end there.
Kindness must dig deeper than buying a stranger’s coffee or allowing the mother with a crying child to go ahead of you in line. We need this type of kindness too, but shouldn’t we also offer a kindness that does much more than change a person’s day?
Doesn’t the world need a more self-sacrificing type of kindness that transforms hearts and minds and offers peace? The type covered with mercy and grace stitched so tightly together that kindness remains secured for years to come?
This is what puzzles me while my son clutches his should-be punishment turned prize. Via a simple ball exchange, my son’s coach shared a truth about how to be kind that I’m still trying to figure out.
Even after my son’s bad attitude, which I generously reprimanded earlier in the game, the coach chose what some wouldn’t and many couldn’t. He picked kindness by deciding to support rather than to scold.
But why? Why would anyone be kind to the undeserving?
The Holy Spirit tugs at my heart with a thought I can’t ignore:
The influence of kindness has far greater power than any deserved consequence.Click To Tweet
The importance of kindness has to do with its ability to change lives.
The coach’s unconventional kindness changes my son almost immediately. He appears lighter and more approachable when he finds me at the bleachers. The tension in his body blows away with the spring breeze.
My little boy, still trying to navigate winning and losing and everything in between, starts to stand a little taller and a whole lot fuller. He’s filled up, not hollowed out.
Maybe that’s how kindness changes lives.
Maybe kindness doesn’t try to fix holes but fills them up instead.Click To Tweet
And don’t we all have holes in our lives that empty us? There are people that hurt us, sin chasing us, and experiences in life that break us and make it harder to try our best because we’re always feeling like we’re losing.
And here’s the thing: Every single one of us would be losing if it wasn’t for a God that sent His son to save a people full of holes and make them a completely new type of whole.
Jesus’ death on the cross doesn’t fix our sin—it fills up the holes our sin creates. The merciful kindness and boundless love He offered to all of us on that day gives us an example of how we can be more like him.
We choose kindness when we give mercy and grace.
Random acts of kindness tend to find their way to people who outwardly appear to deserve them or by chance. But the intentional kindness Christ gave to all of us isn’t something we earned and it definitely isn’t what we deserve.
Today conviction surprises me like an unexpected grand slam and I’m hearing the coach’s silent words left lingering in the air:
A home run hitter may deserve applause, but it’s the struggling player striking out that truly needs the cheering.
Realizing the enormity of the coach’s action invokes a happy sorrow. I’m touched that he didn’t turn away from my difficult child during a low point. Many people do.
What if Jesus had turned away from the thief on the cross? Or didn’t choose to extend mercy and grace to the least deserving?
Can you imagine Jesus spreading His kindness and love—his conglomeration of mercy and grace— randomly rather than freely? Where would you and I be?
Random acts of kindness can change a day, but radical kindness changes a heart.
My little boy doesn’t notice my tears as he stands in front of me. He’s focused on his ball of kindness wrapped in mercy and grace, unaware of the lasting effect it will have on him. I, on the other hand, can’t overlook the change an unlikely kindness—a radical kindness—is having on me.
My dark and deep holes are filling up with hope and doesn’t hope change the heart?
My son hides the worn ball between the flaps of his mitt, unsure of what to do with it. Likely questioning if it belongs to him at all. Definitely keeping it safe so that no one will steal it from him.
I don’t blame him for his caution. He strikes out a lot in life so when he gets a ball, he’s going to hold onto it. Cherish it.
And isn’t that what people do when they receive such a radical kindness? Doesn’t it cause them to stop and think. Can’t you see how it might change a person?
Don’t you know a little bit about this because of what Christ did for you on the cross?
I wrap my arm around my son, guiding him through a swarm of people full of holes, all in need of a radical kindness that fills up and changes hearts.
So how can we do a better job of being kind in a way that goes beyond random acts?
Remember what the bible has to say about it:
Kindness stems from a patient love.
“Charity [Love] suffereth long and is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Kindness forgives without being asked.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Kindness is paired with mercy and grace.
“…for I know that thou art a gracious God, and merciful…and of great kindness…” (Jonah 4:2)
Kindness endures no matter what.
“…but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord my Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:8).
Kindness gives not only to the deserving, but to the undeserving.
“…for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35).