When we think of kindness, we think of generosity and sympathy, friendliness and tenderheartedness. Of course, kindness is all those things and more. But I have noticed another angle on kindness. Kindness is often connected to mercy, and mercy is connected to forgiveness. Look at these three examples.
Psalm 117: Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!
Nehemiah 9:17b: But you are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.
Ephesians 4:31-32: Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
At Christmas much of the world is thinking of ways to be kind, giving gifts and making generous contributions to needy causes. My suggestion is to do all this, yes, but to include mercy in the gift giving. In other words, use this opportunity for some Christmas kindness that extends forgiveness.
Forgive your family members that you are not on speaking terms with. Forgive your parents. Forgive your children. Forgive your friends, your coworkers, your husband, your neighbors, your adversaries. This is merciful kindness, the kind that God has extended to us. Imitate Him. If He gives sunshine and rain to those who are evil, how much more should we (who have been forgiven so much!) be kind and forgiving to those who have wronged us?
Listen to Jesus: Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful (Luke 6:35).
Kindness that is forgiving is the love that covers sins (Prov. 10:2) and covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). It puts away bitterness, resentment, and all its ugly cousins, and it puts on merciful kindness. This is supernatural kindness, Spirit-filled kindness, the kind we cannot produce on our own. But we have access to this kindness in Christ.
So as you are buying and wrapping gifts, give a different sort of gift. Give the gift of forgiveness and mercy wrapped in kindness. That is the gift that God has given us in His Son.