The good news is that, even though love may have a different meaning, kindness and compassion have never gone out-of-style. Regardless of one’s definition of love, kindness still looks the same.
We can all express kindness and compassion. Often, this is something that doesn’t cost us anything.
One of the most famous Scriptures about love comes from 1 Corinthians 13:4–7:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Some simple ways to show kindness include smiling and laughing more, using common courtesies like saying please and thank you, giving a compliment, encouraging someone else who’s in a tough spot, and speaking gently. Kindness can also be accomplished through listening—often for a long time—to someone who’s lonely and may need a little extra attention. How we handle ourselves on social media speaks volumes to our kindness or lack thereof.
We typically think of kindness as acts. However, kindness can be omissions, too. This can mean holding back on verbalizing something that we are thinking. Being kind can mean demonstrating patience with an individual or situation that is particularly frustrating. Refusing to retaliate—in words or actions—can build trust and bridge gaps that could not otherwise be overcome.
There are some not-so-simple ways of showing kindness, too. Offering forgiveness when someone has hurt, offended, or violated us, can be one of the greatest acts. When we refuse to forgive, we are holding onto debts that will never come due. It’s a lesson in futility. Forgiveness is an exceptional way to show love.
Kindness is a language that transcends all barriers.
Compassion is similar to kindness but requires a deeper commitment. Demonstrating compassion takes more of your heart, mind, strength, and resources. Compassion can be investing in under-served communities, donating your time to worthy causes, or helping widows and orphans. Rather than a passing thought, this is usually a cause for which you have an emotional connection.
In 2019, I was with a group of individuals visiting a school/orphanage in Kagadi, Uganda, in East Africa. We had just spent all day with the four-hundred-plus kids at the school, and we were exhausted. Milly, my good friend and co-director of the school, insisted that she take us into the village to meet with some of the families of the children.
We stopped by the local market to buy food and supplies to take to the families. When we arrived in the village, I saw something I have never seen in my life…a community that did not have access to clean water! The children were beautiful, but very dirty and some were obviously sick. I discovered later that these ailments, such as having crossed-eyes like one of the four-year-old girls suffered from, was a result of the parasites in their contaminated water source.
Several of the kids from the school weren’t there when we arrived in the village because they were off gathering water. They walked the three kilometers to and from school, and then had to walk another five kilometers to gather water for their families. The consequences of not being able to walk into the kitchen and turn on the faucet are far more extreme than I would have ever imagined.
Even after I returned home from that trip, I couldn’t forget the look on the faces of the children and adults as they struggled to survive. This was something I couldn’t “unsee” as it was now permanently etched in my mind. This experience led us on a journey for the next few years to help the rural communities in Uganda gain access to clean water. By partnering with an organization in Pittsburgh, we’ve been able to drill water wells in the very communities we visited!
Compassion is like kindness on steroids. It drives us to help others in ways we wouldn’t think were possible. Compassion has the capacity to change lives, communities, and the world.
Join us next week as we discuss the pattern revealed in scripture about how Jesus expressed love while, at the same time, not forsaking truth.