“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Even if someone had taken the time to teach me this mantra when I was a small child like Aibileen Clark, the maid and nanny did for her charge in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, and I repeated it over and over, I’m not sure that would be enough to transform me into a kind and good person.
What does it even mean to be kind and good? Is it being friendly and considerate? Being generous and giving things to people? Is it as simple as being nice? And is goodness just following rules and obeying the law? If someone asked me today if I were kind and good, I would say yes! Indeed, there have been many times in my life when people have called me kind and good.
What would my answer be, however, if the question were, “Are you kind and good in order to avoid negative consequences?” or “Are you kind and good because you expect some kind of reward, reciprocation, or recognition?” or “Are you kind and good even though you would really rather not be?” or “Are you kind and good so other people will think well of you?” If I answer yes to any of those questions, then I am really kind and good?
What motivates me to be kind and good matters. The acts themselves are simply going through the motions unless my heart is right. The acts need to be selfless, with no hidden agenda or expectations. It’s a tall order, something I’m not capable of achieving on my own.
In Galatians 5, Paul talks about our human nature – our natural tendency is “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”
While I haven’t practiced any witchcraft or participated in any orgies, all the rest are sins with which I have at least some degree of familiarity. There is neither pride nor shame in this admission, it’s simply a statement of fact. A deliberate choice has to be made to overcome my human nature and live differently so that I can experience the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Here’s the truth – sometimes I don’t feel like being kind and good. There are times when I’m sad or tired or cranky or let’s be real – sometimes I feel like certain people don’t deserve my kindness. It’s not easy to rise above my own feelings and selfishness and do the right thing for the right reason. When I do, there is joy – for those around me and for me It’s what we all want and need, isn’t it? What about you? Do you consider yourself kind and good? Let me know by leaving a comment on the blog or on Facebook.