The swimmer reached across the lane and hugged her competitor who had just won the race. In a different arena, a gymnast encourages another athlete who competes for the same medal. On the track a runner stops to ensure a fallen competitor is not seriously hurt.
The current Olympic games coverage highlights many such acts of kindness in stark contrast to the news reports we watch each evening. The nightly news bombards us with reports of divisiveness in politics, ideologies, and social agendas. Watching the Olympics this year has provided a beautiful reminder that kindness is still demonstrated in a multitude of ways all around us. One radio announcer said that the Tokyo games have been termed the kindness games.
That made me wonder what would happen if Christians were known as the kindness people? Unfortunately, some people paint Christians as haters because we disagree with their philosophies or agendas. However, not agreeing with someone does not equate hating them. We must stand for our convictions and not back down from taking a stand for what the Bible teaches. Doing so, however, does not require an argumentative or mean-spirited attitude. We can still treat others with love and kindness, even if we disagree.
The Apostle Paul reminds us to demonstrate kindness to others in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” I find encouragement in this because Christ provided a perfect example. We forgive like He does. We show compassion like He does.
One expositor explains that being tenderhearted or compassionate requires much more than feeling sorry or empathetic toward another person. It moves us to action. Just as we see throughout the gospels, when Jesus was moved with compassion, people were healed, set free from bondage, or had some need met. (Matthew 14:14, Mark 1:41, Mark 6:34)
It is so easy to justify not stopping to help someone. Ask anyone how their day is going and usually the term busy pops up in the discussion. Going back to the Olympic examples, cheering the competitor who could take your place on the podium, or forfeiting your chance for a medal to help others provide great examples of the priority we should place on offering compassion to those in need.
What if we emulate the swimmer, celebrating the success of a colleague? Perhaps we set aside our packed schedule to help the single mother struggling to keep her family together. How would it look if we cheered on someone who gets the spotlight instead of us? If these examples were the norm in our lives, would we more likely to be known as kindness people?
I am challenged to look for more ways to demonstrate the compassion Jesus showed. We hear the term RAK – random acts of kindness. Let’s root our RAKs in the unconditional love Jesus exemplified. Let our motivation be demonstrating Jesus within our world of influence. Are you challenged too?