The saying in true, life really does come at you fast. I can testify to it, and I’m persuaded to think I’m not the only one. So much so easily weighs us down, Expectations that are demanded of us, the unkindness of others, the burdens of everyday life.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the joy and privilege to travel to another church so that he could preach. The church, about a 3-hour drive away, had requested that we get there early, so we left around 5:30 am to make it in plenty of time. I was cranky and sleep-deprived and had gotten wave-after-wave of bad news over the weeks prior. I was grumpy, tired, and suspicious. I was suspicious because I didn’t know what to expect, because we’ve been treated poorly before, and because it’s really hard to truthfully answer the question, “how’s your church plant going?”
But the people we met this fateful Sunday caught me off guard. They welcomed us in. Prayed over us. They acknowledged the hardships we were facing. They gave us a safe place to be among those of likeminded faith. They provided shoulders to put our own burdens on. They took us out to lunch, asked how they could serve us, and encouraged us with gentle, honest, edifying words. It was a remarkable time, a time in which we felt rejuvenated, cared for, and remembered. They truly saw us, and they warmed-up my frostbitten heart.
On the long drive home, Paul and I had time to reflect on our short-but-sweet time with these fellow believers. We couldn’t believe the niceties we’d experienced, the fervor of this church’s passion for reaching the lost, and their servant heartedness. They were a remarkable group of people. It dawned on me, though, they were exactly what you would hope for Christians to be and behave. They were kind, but their kindness was ordinary. Their hospitality was ordinary. They never rolled out a red carpet (can you even imagine?), nor did they make a big deal of us (thankfully). Everything was ordinary. It was nothing that should have been unexpected; this was a group of people who took God and His Word seriously, and His kindness overflowed through them. Their kindness was ordinary, but it was surely abundant.
Having reflected on their radically ordinary kindness, I realized how hungry we had been. It was only when we had been deprived of kindness that we understood how starved we were for it. We needed those acts of generous hospitality like we need food to survive. We had been living off of a bare-bones diet, and the kindness of this church was the most lavish meal to spoil our souls.
Fellow Christian, my heart is broken over this fact. Let me be clear—I am not wallowing in my own pity. Rather, I know that as surely as I felt so starved for kindness, there are countless others like me. The circumstances I experienced were not unique; this life is often bitter and ruthless. We need kindness. Even more, Christians should be at the frontlines of this ministry—praying, shouldering burdens, and loving selflessly.
Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
As God’s people, we have a responsibility toward one another to be tenderhearted and caring. We are stewards of one another, tasked with loving the family given to us through Christ’s blood. When we show compassion, care, and kindness toward fellow believers, we are acting on the mandate that God has placed upon us as a supernatural family. We are called to practice ordinary, everyday kindness for the benefit of the church and God’s people.
Those who had been so kind to me had no context for the year I’ve had. They didn’t know that I’ve had more bad days than good. They didn’t know anything more than I was a sister in Christ, and for the few hours they spent with me, they covered me with the grace of God. In the same way, we ought to be indiscriminate with our kindness, not only dealing it to those whom we know are struggling but instead doling it out extravagantly to all.
Keep in mind, this kindness does not need to be extravagant in cost, but only in quantity. Kindness doesn’t have to look like a three-course meal at a five star restaurant. It doesn’t need to be handing over a blank check. It doesn’t have to be a four-hour conversation. Ordinary kindness thrives in praying for those around you, bearing their burdens, and genuinely asking how someone is doing while expecting an honest response. Our kindness doesn’t have to be fancy. We just need to be there for those around us, giving the gift of presence and meeting the spiritual need to the best of our God-given ability.
Ordinary kindness can be revolutionary in our day-to-day commission of caring for the church and adding to Her family. When kindness permeates our lives, the Gospel is enabled to become paramount and undistracted in our speech. When kindness billows off our tongues, the Church is the beneficiary, upholding Her members and defending them voraciously.
Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.