Kindness is not about equal time

Posted on July 21, 2015 · Posted in Sanctification, Wisdom

If you interpret kindness as simply giving the other child the first turn with a toy, you have missed the essence of kindness. Sharing toys so that both can have equal time with a toy is not, by itself, biblical kindness. Sharing this way may result in a more pleasant day, but what will the child really be taught?  Could she be learning, “If I am kind I will get what I really want. My brother won’t fuss, I get to play with the toy, and Mommy is happy with me for being kind.”

This is a recipe for teaching selfishness. This child is being trained in a subtle form of self-service masquerading as kindness. Her kindness is not sacrificial; rather it is a tool that is achieving a more pleasant life for her.

Yes, kindness is wise behavior; but there is much more to wisdom and kindness than first meets the eye. The apostle Paul describes what true kindness looks like in Ephesians 4:32:

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,you as God in Christ forgave you.”

Paul says, “Be kind to one another.” But he doesn’t stop there. Next, he says, “Be tenderhearted.” Thus, Paul immediately brings in the heart; good behavior is not enough. Your child is to care deeply and tenderly for her little brother. Her kindness is to extend beyond “giving to get.”

This is what wisdom looks like as it is expressed through kindness.

A prayer for kindness from Get Wisdom! by Ruth Younts

Father, thank you for your kindness to me. Thank you for forgiving my sin. Please help me to be kind, too, and think more about others. Help me to notice when people need something, and help me to be quick to do good for them, even when it’s not convenient for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.