Monday, July 20, 2009


It seems to me that for relationships to succeed long term—at least as the New Testament describes success—kindnesss is essential. It is a partner with humility. Kindness means to be tender, gentle, sensitive, loving, compassionate. I think we should view it as a skill that we practice in regard to others. It is not merely a nice feeling or sweet intention. A skill involves what we actually do and the manner with which we do it. Kindness is an antidote to self centeredness, projection, ambition, and aggressiveness. To be kind requires self-knowledge and self-restraint. We have to be able to “see,” be aware, in order to recognize both others and ourselves, to love both others and ourselves. It then requires skill to respond first to the other person and not first to ourselves. We are able to set aside ourselves in order to focus on others and respond to them where they are, where they are coming from. Our response is based fundamentally on compassion. Of course justice plays a role, but in the Christian life love is greater than justice. I Cor 13 says that love is the greatest. My prayer for myself and our community is that we become more and more kind, more and more able to love as God wants us to love.


Daniel said...

Rickey, thank you for identifying another core aspect of community. This, for me, could not have been more timely or appropriate. You've emphasized this relational quality as a "skill that we practice" rather than a "nice feeling or sweet intention," something that happens with the support of prayer, spiritual dialogue, and explicit desire/intention. My passions may carry my kindness in any number of directions (however beneficial or futile), but kindness born of "self-knowledge and self-restraint" is fair and, more importantly, an act of love. Thank you for this powerful reminder. My prayer is the same.

living stones said...

Rickey, this is familiar territory, but as always I like hearing it again. It's quite helpful to see that "what we actually do" matters. I'm pretty good at the "doing" part, especially in the summer when there seems more time for cooking and cleaning. But as we get ready to visit family in NWF I'm reflecting more deeply on all this. There will be ample to do, but the second part of the sentence, "the manner with which we do it" continues to need my attention. A sigh or strained tone in my voice can speak volumes about what is really in my heart. I want to be more self aware, and I'm grateful to have your help.
--Love, Anna

living stones said...

I'm amazed how often something will be circulating in my brain and and then someone will post on here about the same or similar topic. Kindness is a quality generated from a tender heart, and a tender heart is partly generated, I think, from spending quality time listening to Jesus' heart. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this aspect of Christ-like living in community, Rickey.


Paul Corrigan said...

I'm with Daniel on the timeliness of this post. Kindness seems much a more practical and attainable level than "love" (though of course, the two aren't really separable). I think I'm better at detachment than kindness. But it seems that it's got to be the other side of the same coin. Thanks, and Amen to your prayer for this for us.

Matt said...

Rickey, thank you for your encouraging and challenging words. "To be kind requires self-knowledge and self-restraint." This is a wonderful call to a deeper level of relating to God and others. I pray that God continues to draw me into acts of genuine kindness.

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