As I write this the tragic death of television personality Caroline Flack is still making the headlines in the media. Though the exact circumstances of her passing will no doubt emerge at a more official level in the weeks to come, there has been a lot of discussion as to the role that bullying, particularly in the press and over social media, had played in the last few days of her life. It is to be hoped that if nothing else good comes from this sad, shocking happening people take a look at how they behave in these days of instant communication when anyone can go online and say whatever they like about anybody else.
It is perhaps ironic that following her death, one of the statements that Caroline Flack herself had put on social media has become famous. She said “In a world where you can be anything, be kind!” That is a longing that I guess we would all be happy to say ‘Amen’ too, and one that we would recognise as being something desperately needed today. In our fast ‘every man for himself’ society there seems to be so little kindness. I guess that this shouldn’t surprise us. Kindness is one of those old-fashioned Christian values that are bound to disappear as we as a society slowly but deliberately drift away from our Christian moorings and Biblical heritage. Like morality, honesty, discipline and respect, kindness is no longer valued as it was in better days. Unfortunately the new morality hasn’t found a better base for our society than the Biblical Christianity they seek to displace. And they won’t!
The Bible has a lot to say about kindness. Kindness is one of the attributes of God, and one of the fruit of the Spirit. Both of those facts make it something we should endeavour to practice.
The Gospel starts with the kindness of God “But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4,5). We would have no hope of salvation were it not for the kindness of God. It was in His kindness that He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world to die on the cross and bear the penalty of our sin. It was through that same kindness that we can be washed, given new life (regeneration) and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Has that happened to you? If so and we know the God who is kind, then so should we be! That is why the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22,23).
In an increasingly unkind world therefore Christians should seek to be kind at every opportunity. We start within the fellowship where there should be no place for sniping and critical attitudes, but every place for thoughtful caring in word and deed. We then need to show that same kindness as we live before those outside the church. May God help us to be such people! Gordon