(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)
There seems to be a shortage of kindness these days. When looking out for ourselves is the primary basis for every decision made, it’s hard to care for and be kind to others. In this article, I want to lay out God’s plan for kindness and how as followers of Christ, we can be a light to the world by practicing kindness.
Before you read today’s article, I encourage you to pray this prayer with me.
Prayer Starter: Father, thank you so much for how kind You are. I pray that as I read this article, the power of the Holy Spirit will minister to me personally. Open my heart to receive what you have for me. I ask you this in Christ’s name. Amen.
We live in such an unkind world that acts of kindness seem odd, random, and out of place. The incredible thing is that normative Christianity is kindness.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were visiting the city of Philippi. God used them powerfully, so much so that they cast a demon spirit out of a young slave girl that was a fortune-teller. When the demon came out of her, she could no longer use this divination or any acts of fortune-telling.
Needless to say, her masters became enraged (the girl’s deliverance meant a financial loss for them), and they appealed to the local government there. As a result, the officials beat Paul and Silas, stripped them of their clothes, and threw them in prison.
Acts 16:25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once, all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We’re all here!’
“The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.”
Instead of getting angry and scheming and coming up with a plot to break out of jail, these guys start singing and praying. Card on the table: I may have been scheming and plotting to escape somehow, but I’m humbled at their devotion to God.
We see in this passage how the Holy Spirit used Paul and Silas, who were praying and singing at that midnight hour. Then the jail shook, cells opened, and cuffs fell off their hands and feet. This sent the jailer into such distress that he was about to kill himself because he knew the unspoken rule: If the prisoners escape, the Roman government will kill the jailer.
So the jailer is about to commit suicide, but instead of committing suicide, he commits his life to Christ.
That was a greater miracle than the jail cells opening and the cuffs falling off the hands and feet of the prisoners. It was the miracle of a changed life. Paul acted with kindness towards the jailer. To prevent the jailer from committing suicide, he shouted to the jailer that they were all still there.
Kindness is a redemptive tool. God uses kindness.
The kindness God calls His people to demonstrate has a more significant benefit than earthly benefits.
It has a heavenly benefit. It redeems people. It turns them Godward. It opens up their minds to start having them ask you, why are you being kind to me?
So, here’s this hardened jailer. He’s seen all kinds of criminals get incarcerated. Some on trumped-up charges, others legitimate thieves and murderers. And he saw individuals like Paul and Silas with bogus charges thrown at them. He’s seen all those things.
He’s heard the clamor and the cries. He’s listened to some inmates sing secular songs. He’s heard people pray desperate prayers, but he knew there was a difference when Paul and Silas were praying their prayers and singing their songs to God.
They prayed as if they knew God heard them. They sang from a place of a relationship with God.
The jailer probably didn’t come to work that day thinking, “I want to find Jesus.” The text says he was asleep. That means that he’d heard them sing, heard them pray, and then somehow still fell asleep. God was not on his radar, but then a miracle occurred, and he asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?”
God can use anybody at any time. God used Paul and Silas to help a hardened and apathetic jailer meet His Creator.
When that jailer gave his life to Christ, he became more human. He started to recognize that his faith brought new feelings, and all of a sudden, the things on the inside of him became uncomfortable. Before, he had no problem dragging Paul and Silas into the prison, bleeding, broken, and beat up. They had been stained with blood, blood dripping down their faces and all over their bodies, and these facts did not affect the jailer one bit. It didn’t bother him because somehow when you are steeped in sin, sin numbs your soul and senses.
Sin makes you no longer compassionate. Sin takes away your feelings of empathy about care for human beings.
But when this jailer got saved that night, he knew that salvation was real. He experienced what it means to accept Christ, and he experienced God. It wasn’t a religious fad or an ideology.
This jailer got set free from his numbness of soul and his lack of empathy. He got delivered and began to feel. And when he looked at Paul and Silas, he no longer saw people who deserved to be there. He looked at them and he was moved. He was driven to take action and began to wash their wounds.
Kindness exploded in his heart.
Kindness stems from the fact that you care.
Do you have empathy?
Do you see people?
Do you feel their pain?
Kindness is about compassion. It’s not about checking off a box that says you did a kind act.
Kindness starts with the fact that your feelings change towards people even if they don’t share your faith or reciprocate your kindness. It’s about caring.
Kindness also challenges us to believe and feel differently.
Jesus challenges us in Luke 6:35, “But love those who hate you. Do good to them. Let them use your things and do not expect something back. Your reward will be much. You will be the children of the Most high. He is kind to those who are not thankful and to those who are full of sin. You must have loving-kindness just as your father has loving-kindness.”
Jesus is saying your loving-kindness shouldn’t be segmented or limited to your family, friends, kids or cute little grandkids.
Your loving-kindness should extend even to those who don’t treat you right, can’t reciprocate or may even owe you money. Your loving-kindness should be a lifestyle. Jesus is saying it should be drastic, transforming, and to the point of shocking others.
I love what the award-winning and best-selling American author Og Mandino said, “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight, extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.”
Do this, and your life will never be the same again.
For more resources about reaching out to others and practicing kindness, visit our church website— ACCESS HERE.