Kindness seems to be a lost art these days. Our culture puts an emphasis on self-promotion and achievement rather than on caring for others. Often showing kindness is not seen as a priority, and for some, it is viewed as a weakness. Even for those of us who believe that kindness is a good thing, we are often too busy with our own problems and priorities to make time for others.
But as God’s children, extending kindness should be a priority. Seeing others’ needs, putting them first, and reaching out in love makes a huge difference. In fact, the lack of kindness around us only provides an opportunity for our actions to make a greater impact.
As we develop kindness, it is important to understand that kindness is more than a good deed. Kindness is a part of God’s character and should be a part of the character of everyone who follows God (Galatians 5:22). Because kindness is rooted in God, developing kindness has to begin with God. One of the greatest ways we can grow in kindness is through engaging with God through Bible study.
Remember God’s Kindness
In Psalm 103:2, the psalmist David declares, “Praise the LORD, my soul, and do not forget how kind he is.” It is a command to be intentional and pay attention to God’s kindness. So, what does it look like to remember God’s kindness?
One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t do well at remembering things in the morning. Because I know this, I have learned to create reminders. I set important things on my bag, I leave sticky notes, or I hang things on the handle of the door through which I’ll exit. Without these triggers, I will walk right out the door never realizing I have forgotten anything. In the same way I need memory triggers to keep my morning on track, I also need triggers to keep me on track spiritually. This could be something as simple as strategically placing a sticky note with a biblical promise such as, “God is full of constant love” (Psalm 103:8).
Other triggers could be setting an alarm on my phone reminding me to read the Bible or planning a time with a friend to specifically talk about what God is teaching each of us. The key is knowing that if I am going to remember God’s kindness, I have to be purposeful and take specific action steps that keep me from forgetting how God is working.
Reflection: Read Psalm 103:1-2. What can you praise God for today? What trigger can you put in place to help you remember God’s kindness?
Consider Specific Examples of God’s Kindness
One of the best ways to remember God’s kindness is to consider specific ways we have seen God’s kindness in our lives. In Psalm 103, immediately after challenging himself not to forget God’s kindness, the psalmist lists acts of God’s kindness. God forgives, heals, fills his life with good things, blesses him, and keeps him young and strong. This provides a framework for how we, too, can remember God’s kindness.
Recently I went through a season in which I forgot God’s kindness. I felt very discouraged. I found myself wondering why it seemed like God wasn’t answering my prayers. Discouragement quickly led me down a path of questioning God and feeling sorry for myself. Soon, instead of praising God and loving and caring for the people around me, I was continually complaining and criticizing.
During this time of discouragement, I opened my Bible to Psalm 103 and was challenged to adjust my thinking. As I read the list of the many ways God works, I began to think of all the ways I could see God working in my life. God has given me great friends, provided for my financial needs, given me opportunities to serve, and restored my soul. With this new perspective, discouragement was defeated.
Psalm 103 serves as an example for discovering God’s kindness. As we read about God’s kindness, it is important to link that kindness to our own lives. When you read that God forgives, think about God’s forgiveness in your life. When you read that God fills the psalmist’s life with good things, consider what specific blessings you have seen in your life. When you read about how God keeps the psalmist young and strong, look at the specific ways God has increased your strength.
Reflection: Read Psalm 103:3-12. What are some specific ways you have seen God’s kindness in your life?
Show God’s Kindness
Reading God’s Word not only opens our eyes to see God’s kindness, but it also helps us to show God’s kindness. In Psalm 103, the psalmist connects an understanding of God’s character to living out God’s character: “But for those who honor the Lord, his love lasts forever, and his goodness endures for all generations of those who are true to his covenant and who faithfully obey his commands” (Psalm 103:17-18). When we focus on God’s kindness we are motivated to be more like God.
When I was facing discouragement, not only was I forgetting God’s kindness, but my life was also not reflecting God’s character. In self-absorption, I was failing to see the opportunities God was providing for me. I was missing out on serving and showing love to others. I needed to rediscover what kindness looked like.
What about you? What is stopping you from seeing and showing God’s kindness? Try spending time in God’s Word, rediscovering God’s kindness. With some intention and patience, you will learn to reflect that kindness to a world that desperately needs to see it.
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