Here’s a thought experiment: Think of all the opportunities we have each day in our homes to bestow kindness. Call it domestic kindness. We don’t have to look far to find hundreds of ways to be kind.
1. “And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you’ (Eph. 4:32). From this verse we can see two aspects of kindness, but let’s look first at how kindness is forgiving. How many times in a day can we extend forgiveness? Sometimes it is asked for; sometimes it isn’t. But each time we forgive, we are being kind.
2. And from the same verse, how many times in a day can we be tenderhearted? How many opportunities arise that call for sympathy or pity? How often can we give a kiss, a hug, a word of tenderness, a band-aid, a glass of water? Tender hearts respond in kindness; hard hearts can’t be bothered. Tender hearts are up in the night with sick kids or hungry babies.
3. I Corinthians 13:4 begins with this: “Love suffers long and is kind…” Kindness doesn’t watch the clock with a tapping foot, but is willing to wait. Kindness doesn’t mind when the children have to be reminded…again. Or when they ask the same question….again. Perhaps it’s not a child, but an elderly loved one. When we are patient, we are being kind.
4. God’s kindness is abundant “But you are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness…” (Neh. 9:17). We have opportunities galore, which means we can be abundant in kindness too. God is ready to extend kindness. Are we ready?
5. “Blessed be the Lord, For He has shown me His marvelous kindness…” (Ps. 31:21). God’s kindness is evident; He has shown it to us. And we have seen that it is extraordinary, marvelous, and amazing. That’s the sort of kindness we are to be imitating….and we should be showing it to the people in our homes. They should see it, receive it, and be surprised at it!
6. “For His merciful kindness is great toward us…” (Ps. 117.2). God’s kindness is immense. Huge. Women have many opportunities to show loads and tons of merciful kindness, day in and day out. It may be a meal for a hungry toddler, a famished teenager, or a weary husband. It may be clean sheets, socks in the drawer, and an ironed shirt in the closet. These are mercies, and they are very kind.
7. “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Prov. 31.26). Words are a central means of extending kindness. In this verse, a mother’s law is governed by kindness. When she lays down the law, it is not done in anger, but is wise and kind. If we could look over the script of our spoken words at the end of each day, would we see kindness?
8. “For My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed” (Isaiah 54:10). Our people should be confident in our kindness. This means our kindness must not be erratic, sometimes kind, sometimes unkind. God’s kindness is immoveable. He is committed to His people and has covenanted with us. Our kindness should not be occasional, but regular. Our families should be able to presume upon our kindness the way we presume on God’s.
9. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…” (Rom. 12:10). Kindness is affectionate. It is not theoretical; it is practical. It is hands on. It’s a welcome home and a hug. It’s “tell me about your day” and really listening. It’s eye contact and interest. Kindness is an engaged affection.
10. Kindness can be ladled up into bowls in the kitchen. It can be folded up and stacked in the drawers. It can be spoken or it can listen. Kindness starts with God, and He gives it to us so we can give it to one another. If we think of a kindness, it is wise to do it. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of bestowing kindness because it costs us. But when we extend kindness, we are doing our own souls good and blessing one another.
There is always the temptation to do good to others, somewhere else. But we should not think about moving out and beyond our family to extend ourselves unless it is an overflow. Jesus had things to say about the Pharisees who were doing good to others and ignoring their own families. We begin at home, then to our church community, and beyond. That’s the order given in Scripture. But that’s just a helpful list of priorities, not a prohibition to to keep us from doing good and showing kindness everywhere.