(Part 3- The Benefits of Kindness)
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)
When I was a young wife in my early 20’s, I had a life-altering conversation with my pastor’s wife, a lovely woman named Ruth. During our visit, Ruth talked about a passage of Scripture that was very important to her. Proverbs 31 describes a virtuous wife (in some Bible translations called ‘the wife of noble character’). Our conversation that day initiated my fascination with the Proverbs 31 woman. I wanted to be like that lady, but I admit, many years later I’m only a very dim reflection.
Verse 23 in the KJV was particularly riveting.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
The moment I heard that verse, I realized I wasn’t that type of woman. Verbalization in my family of origin included a lot of sarcasm and sharp words. Since I’m a ‘word’ lover and have always been relatively adept verbally, I was pretty skillful with the sarcastic barb, cutting words or verbal zinger. Following the conversation with Ruth, I desired to change the way I spoke. I became intentional about using more kindness in my communication. Some 40 years after that conversation, I still feel like a rookie, but being a woman of wisdom whose words are laced with kindness will remain for me an exceedingly important lifelong goal.
The quote above from Mother Teresa reminded me of my visit with Ruth. There was nothing particularly earth shattering about the conversation, and yet the echoes of the kind words Ruth introduced to me ring in my mind to this day.
An interesting study that explored the benefit of kindness was conducted by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, psychology professor at University of California, Riverside. Dr. Lyubomirsky’s students were assigned to do five random acts of kindness per week for a period of six weeks. At the end of the study, the students’ levels of happiness had increased by 41.66 percent. Being kind had a profoundly positive effect on happiness.
When I wrote the first blog about kindness, posted June 16th, my friend, Jackie commented, sharing thoughts I believe are worth repeating to Listening on the Journey… readers. Jackie and her husband, Duane, an orthopedic surgeon who left a thriving private practice to serve in a hospital in Ethiopia, know more than a bit about the power of kindness from a cross-cultural point of view. Jackie said, “Kindness is:
- the key to so many relationships
- the oil that smooths out intense relationships, or
- allows correction to be heard, or
- speaks louder than our sermons.”
Jackie is an excellent Bible teacher from whom I’ve learned so much. She noted that Scripture speaks of God’s ‘lovingkindness’ many times in a different way than love.
Her comment piqued my curiosity so I did a little research and read an interesting article about the difference between love and kindness, adapted from C. S. Lewis’s book The Problem of Pain. I recommend this article—especially if you like C. S. Lewis.
In addition, I learned that in the King James Bible, the words ‘kindness’ and ‘lovingkindness’ are used 73 different times.
When the psalmist David needed guidance and deliverance, he appealed to God:
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You. Psalm 142:8 NKJV
My prayer for you and for me is that we will be the recipients of lovingkindness, and that we will be the generous givers of kindness!
Listening on YOUR Journey
- What kind words do you need to speak? To whom? When and how will you do that?
- What act of kindness have you been intending to do? When will your good intention become even a small action?