Pursuing Kindness in a Hostile World

“The desirable thing in earthling man is his loving-kindness.”​—PROVERBS 19:22.

1. Why can it be difficult to show kindness?

DO YOU consider yourself to be a kind person? If so, living in today’s world can be trying. True, kindness is identified in the Bible as part of “the fruitage of the spirit,” but why is it so difficult to express kindness even in so-called Christian lands? (Galatians 5:22) As we noted in the preceding article, the answer can in part be found in what the apostle John wrote​—the whole world is in the control of an unkind spirit person, Satan the Devil. (1 John 5:19) Jesus Christ identified Satan as “the ruler of the world.” (John 14:30) Thus, this world tends to resemble its rebel ruler, whose attitude is characterized by vicious behavior.​—Ephesians 2:2.

2. What challenges can affect our showing kindness?

2 Our lives are affected adversely when others treat us in an unkind manner. The unkindness could be expressed by spiteful neighbors, unfriendly strangers, even friends and family members who may, at times, act thoughtlessly. The pressure of having contact with people who are rude and who shout and curse at one another often causes much dismay. Such lack of kindness by others could make us feel hostile ourselves, and we may consider returning  unkindness for unkindness. That may even lead to spiritual or physical health problems.​—Romans 12:17.

3. What serious problems do people face that test their willingness to be kind?

3 Stressful world conditions may also make it difficult for us to show kindness. For example, mankind in general feels stress because of threats and acts of terrorism, as well as the possible use of biological or nuclear weapons by various national groups. In addition, millions of people are impoverished, existing with minimal food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Pursuing kindness becomes a challenge when the situation seems hopeless.​—Ecclesiastes 7:7.

4. What wrong conclusion might some draw when thinking about showing kindness to others?

4 A person could easily conclude that showing kindness is hardly a priority and may even be a sign of weakness. He could feel exploited, especially when others ride roughshod over him. (Psalm 73:2-9) However, the Bible provides proper direction for us when it says: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.” (Proverbs 15:1) Mildness and kindness are two aspects of the fruitage of the spirit that are closely related and are effective when dealing with difficult and challenging circumstances.

5. What are some areas of life in which kindness is needed?

5 Since displaying the fruitage of God’s holy spirit is so important to us as Christians, we do well to consider how we might show one of those qualities​—kindness. Is it possible to pursue kindness in a hostile world? If so, what are some areas in which we can give evidence that we do not allow the influence of Satan to stifle our kindness, especially in stressful situations? Let us consider pursuing kindness in the family, in the workplace, at school, with our neighbors, in our ministry, and among fellow believers.

Kindness Within the Family

6. Why is kindness within the family so important, and how can it be manifested?

6 To have Jehovah’s blessing and direction, the fruitage of the spirit is vital and needs to be fully cultivated. (Ephesians 4:32) Let us focus on the particular need for family members to express kindness to one another. In day-to-day dealings, a husband and wife should manifest a kind and caring spirit between themselves and with their children. (Ephesians 5:28-33; 6:1, 2) Such kindness needs to be evident in the way members of the family speak to one another, children honoring and respecting their parents and parents treating their children appropriately. Be quick to commend, slow to condemn.

7, 8. (a) What type of conduct do we have to avoid if we are to show genuine kindness in the family? (b) How does good communication contribute to a strong family bond? (c) How can you display kindness in your family?

 7 Being kind to those in our family involves following the admonition of the apostle Paul: “Really put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth.” Every day, Christian families should communicate with one another in a respectful manner. Why? Because good communication is the lifeblood of strong, healthy families. When disagreements arise, to smooth the conflict, try to solve the problem rather than win the argument. Happy family members make an earnest effort to promote kindness and consideration for one another.​—Colossians 3:8, 12-14.

8 Kindness is positive and makes us want to do good to others. Thus, we seek to be useful, considerate, and helpful in an agreeable manner with other family members. It takes both individual and collective effort to show the type of kindness that speaks well of a family. As a result, not only will they have God’s blessing but, in the congregation and in the community, they will honor the God of kindness, Jehovah.​—1 Peter 2:12.

Kindness in the Workplace

9, 10. Describe some problems that can arise in the workplace, and comment on how they may be handled with kindness.

9 For a Christian, the daily routine of employment may present the challenge of showing kindness to fellow workers. Rivalry among employees may lead to one’s job being jeopardized by a fellow employee who acts deceitfully or craftily, thus undermining one’s reputation with the employer. (Ecclesiastes 4:4) It is not easy to show kindness at such times. Nevertheless, bearing in mind that the kind thing is usually the right thing to do, a servant of Jehovah should strive to the extent possible to win over those who are not well-disposed. Showing a caring attitude may help in this. Perhaps you can show concern if the fellow employee is ill or has family members who are ill. Even an inquiry can have a positive effect on the other person. Yes, Christians ought to seek to promote harmony and peace as far as it depends on them. Sometimes a kind word that shows care and concern will help the situation.

10 On other occasions, an employer may force his opinions on his employees and may want everyone to take part in some nationalistic event or in a celebration of an unscriptural nature. When a Christian’s conscience does not let him participate, this  may lead to a confrontation. At that moment it might not be wise to go into detail about how wrong it would be to comply with the employer’s wishes. After all, to those who do not share the Christian’s beliefs, what is being done may seem to be the right thing to do. (1 Peter 2:21-23) Perhaps you could kindly explain your reasons for not personally participating. Do not repay sarcastic comments with sarcastic comments. It is well for a Christian to follow the fine advice of Romans 12:18: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.”

Kindness at School

11. What challenges do young ones face in displaying kindness to schoolmates?

11 It can be a real challenge for young ones to show kindness to fellow students. Young people often yearn to be recognized by classmates. Some boys act in a macho fashion in order to be well-thought-of by other students, going as far as bullying others in school. (Matthew 20:25) Other young people like to show off scholastically, in sports, or in other activities. In parading their prowess, they often treat classmates and other students unkindly, erroneously thinking that this in itself somehow makes them superior. A young Christian has to beware that he or she does not imitate those individuals. (Matthew 20:26, 27) The apostle Paul said that “love is long-suffering and kind” and that love does “not brag, does not get puffed up.” Hence, a Christian is under obligation, not to follow the poor example of those who act unkindly, but to adhere to Scriptural admonition in his dealings with schoolmates.​—1 Corinthians 13:4.

12. (a) Why may it be a challenge for young ones to be kind to their teachers? (b) Who can young ones look to for help when pressured to be unkind?

12 Young ones should also treat their teachers with kindness. Many students enjoy exasperating their teachers. They think that they are smart when they undermine respect for their teachers by engaging in activities that violate school rules. By means of intimidation, they may get others to join them. When a young Christian refuses to go along, he or she may be targeted for ridicule or abuse. Facing such situations over the course of a school year tests a Christian’s resolve to show kindness. Bear in mind,  though, how important it is to be a loyal servant of Jehovah. Be assured that he will support you by means of his spirit in these difficult moments in life.​—Psalm 37:28.

Kindness to Neighbors

13-15. What can interfere with showing kindness to one’s neighbors, and how may these challenges be met?

13 Whether you live in a house, an apartment, a trailer park, or elsewhere, you can think of ways to show kindness and to express concern for the welfare of neighbors. Again, this is not always easy.

14 What if your next-door neighbors are prejudiced against you because of your race, nationality, or religion? What if they are rude at times or ignore you altogether? As a servant of Jehovah, expressing kindness to the extent possible will be beneficial. You will stand out as refreshingly different, truly a praise to Jehovah​—the one exemplary in kindness. You never know when the neighbor might have a change of attitude as a result of your kindness. He might even become a praiser of Jehovah.​—1 Peter 2:12.

15 How might kindness be shown? For one thing, by conduct within the family as all exhibit the fruitage of the spirit. Neighbors may note this. At times, you may be able to do your neighbor a favor. Remember that kindness means taking an active interest in the welfare of others.​—1 Peter 3:8-12.

Kindness in Our Ministry

16, 17. (a) Why is kindness important in our public ministry? (b) How can kindness be manifested in various avenues of the field ministry?

16 Kindness should characterize our Christian ministry as we make a concerted effort to reach people in their homes, at their businesses, and in public places. We should  remember that we represent Jehovah, who is always kind.​—Exodus 34:6.

17 What is included in your efforts to show kindness in your ministry? As an example, while engaged in street witnessing, you can show kindness by being brief and considerate when you approach people. Sidewalks are usually busy with pedestrian traffic, so be careful that you do not block the sidewalks. Also, when you witness in business territory, show your kindness by being brief, remembering that storekeepers have to attend to customers.

18. What part does discernment play in showing kindness in our ministry?

18 In the house-to-house ministry, use discretion. Do not overstay your welcome, especially if the weather is poor. Can you discern when a person is growing impatient or even irritated by your presence? Perhaps in your part of the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses call very often. If that is the case, show special consideration, always being kind and pleasant. (Proverbs 17:14) Try to acknowledge a householder’s reason for not listening that day. Remember, one of your Christian brothers or sisters will most likely call at that home in the near future. If you meet someone who is rude, put forth special effort to show kindness. Do not raise your voice or frown, but speak in a calm manner. A kind Christian does not want to provoke the householder into a battle of words. (Matthew 10:11-14) Perhaps some day that person will listen to the good news.

Kindness at Congregation Meetings

19, 20. Why is kindness needed in the congregation, and how can it be shown?

19 It is no less important to show kindness to fellow believers. (Hebrews 13:1) Since we are part of a worldwide brotherhood, kindness is essential in our dealings with one another.

20 If a congregation is sharing a Kingdom Hall with one, two, or more congregations, it is important to deal kindly with those in the other congregations, according them dignity in your dealings with them. Rivalry is not conducive to cooperation when it comes to arranging for meeting times and such necessities as cleaning or renovating. Be kind and considerate even though there may be some differences of opinion. In this way kindness will triumph, and Jehovah will truly bless the interest you show in the welfare of others.

Continue to Show Kindness

21, 22. In line with Colossians 3:12, what should be our resolve?

21 Kindness is such an all-embracing quality that it touches every aspect of our lives. We should therefore make it an integral part of our Christian personality. Showing kindness to others ought to become a habit.

22 May all of us be kind to others each day and thus individually apply the words of the apostle Paul: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.”​—Colossians 3:12.

Do You Remember?

• What makes it difficult for a Christian to show kindness?

• Why is it important to display kindness in one’s family?

• What are some challenges to manifesting kindness at school, at work, and to neighbors?

• Explain how Christians can display kindness in their public ministry.

[Study Questions]

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Kindness shown by all in the family promotes unity and cooperation

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You can show kindness when illness strikes a coworker or his family

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Jehovah supports those who loyally display kindness despite ridicule

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Offering a helping hand to a neighbor in need is an act of kindness