Random acts of kindness are good things to do; no doubt about it. I love to watch random acts of kindness videos, and I enjoy randomly making a friend’s day. It gives me a good feeling inside, and I usually get a smile in return. It generally feels good. Over the last several months, though, I’ve been thinking about another type of kindness; a harder type of kindness. I call it the “kindness of atmosphere”. I’ve written a couple drafts of blog posts about it but I never published one. Why? I had some more learning to do.
My first blog post draft, I wrote about someone I learned the negative side of this lesson from. A person who brought a “sharp” atmosphere wherever they went. In my blog post draft, I tried to make the point that kindness is not just an act but it’s a way of life. This is true. Often the biggest way to make a difference is someone’s life is by loving them day by day through everyday means. But then I realized something else.
People who have an unkind “atmosphere” aren’t always blatantly rude or cruel, but they all have one thing in common: bitterness. They aren’t always getting upset at someone for a logical reason and sometimes they just bring a feeling of “sharpness” wherever they go. But after I finished writing, I realized something ironic. While writing about lessons I learned from watching them, I was missing the lesson right in front of me. I wasn’t forgiving the people I was writing about. Instead, I was displaying the bitterness I was writing about, the very bitterness I so hated.
The point in my first draft from a long time ago still stands true: kindness is more than a “random act”. Kind people seem to give off a kind “atmosphere”: genuine love for other people that goes beyond one act or one gift.
Note: “Kind atmosphere” is a bit of a strange phrase. By it, I just mean the genuine love kind people seem to carry with them.
But while writing about the importance of a kind atmosphere, I almost failed to see the bitterness that causes an unkind atmosphere. The bitterness that was forming in me. I had to forgive people for the little and the big things, whether they apologized or not.
A kind note to the mail-carrier and a candy bar randomly given to a friend – these acts of kindness are easy for me. I actually get some sort of reward: maybe a smile or a good feeling inside. No doubt, these are usually enjoyable to do and are wonderful things to do for other people. But we also have to forgive people when no one knows how much it hurt, and we have to do the things that absolutely no one sees and no one cares about. God calls us to be kind to people even when we don’t feel like it. He calls us to really love others. We have to put others first and do the things that don’t even get a ‘thank you’ or a smile. I believe these unnoticeable, menial acts add up to a genuine “kind atmosphere” because kindness is really about showing someone love; and love is putting someone else before you.
If we only do kind things when it feels good or we get noticed or it’s fun, is it really kindness? Is it really love? Or is it a self-esteem boost?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Hear me again, random acts of kindness are good. But if we don’t couple those random acts with everyday, consistent acts, we won’t really be loving other people. We must be willing to put people first when we don’t feel like it. After all, isn’t that what love is? Putting aside our own needs and plans and caring for the needs and plans of someone else?
These little, consistent acts you do are not worthless. I believe they give a person that “kind atmosphere” because little, unnoticed acts to put others first build up our love for other people.
I’ll start to wrap it up with a Bible verse that I think applies to this topic perfectly. When Jesus was addressing the Pharisees, He got to the heart of the true kindness He requires of us:
Matthew 6:1-4, ESV
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Remember that God sees your struggle to forgive and your consistent, menial acts of love. He sees and, as the verse above says, He will reward you.
Do random kind things for other people, but don’t forget to also do the harder, more unnoticeable things (like playing with your little sister or sweeping the floor when you’re dying to watch a new episode of Wanda-Vision). As a person loves other people and puts them first consistently, something really cool happens. They get a very welcoming, loving atmosphere; a kind atmosphere. People can be more open with them because the person really cares.
Of course, we will never love other perfectly. We can, however, get to know God and pray for Him to put His love in us. I think this song sums up this prayer really well.
What is the hardest act of kindness for you to do? Is it a menial task, forgiving someone, or something else? Have you ever met someone who gives off a “kind atmosphere”? What do you think makes them seem so genuine?
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