Recently, there has been a surge of YouTube videos showing amazing acts of kindness. Helping the poor, giving away one hundred dollar bills, paying for food or gasoline and even letting physically handicapped sports opponents win in a competition. To me, the most amazing acts of kindness are those directed toward others who do not deserve the kindness. That is the definition of kindness – showing favor, grace and mercy.
The greatest kindness is one that shows forgiveness. The apostle Paul wrote. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Many people know the story of Corrie ten Boom who suffered in a Nazi concentration camp in Germany during WWII. After her miraculous release, she traveled the world preaching God’s forgiveness and reconciliation. But her kindness in forgiving was challenged when she came face-to-face with one of her tormentors in the camp after giving a talk at a church in Munich. The man came towards Corrie and spoke:
“‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk…I was a guard in there. But since that time, I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,’ …his hand came out…‘will you forgive me?’ I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do…I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart…”Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently…I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place…this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried, ‘With all my heart!’ For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”
Through God’s kindness and love, He performed the most amazing act of kindness toward those who didn’t deserve it:
“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:3-5
The kindness of forgiveness is given at the price of someone else. It is an act of kindness the receiver doesn’t deserve but freely receives. Is there someone in my life or your life who needs your act of kindness, your forgiveness? Jesus said, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. As we abide with Jesus and understand His kindness toward us in “washing away our sins”, He can produce the fruit of kindness in our lives. Like Corrie, I’ll ask Him to help me show kindness in forgiving others, thankful that He forgave me because of His kindness. “Be kind to one another…forgiving one another.”