THE BIBLE ON KINDNESS

(Investigator 188, 2019 September)

Anonymous


He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another. (Zechariah 7:9)

The fruit of the Spirit is…kindness. (Galatians 5:22)



INTRODUCTION

I experienced kindness in 1979 after thieves stole my motorbike and burned it. This threatened my university education due to increased difficulties getting there at a time when I had no income. However, someone donated $200 to purchase another motorbike.

I also demonstrated kindness. In the University of Adelaide Library I found a purse with $79, credit cards, other cards and items, and returned it to its owner.

Paul, the Apostle, received kindness during his voyage to Rome when the army officer in charge permitted him to go ashore to meet fellow Christians. (Acts 27:3) More kindness occurred on Malta where: "The natives showed us unusual kindness…and entertained us hospitably for three days." (28:2, 7)


NEW TESTAMENT

As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

Regarding "doing good" which would include kindness, charity, helpfulness, honesty and forgiveness, the New Testament says: "See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all." (I Thessalonians 5:15)

Jesus demonstrated kindness when he fed the hungry, let tired people rest, cured the sick, taught standards that promote peace, gave guilty people fresh starts, and promoted hope of better life in the "kingdom of God". Even while dying he provided for his mother's welfare, comforted the criminal next to him, and asked God to forgive the people killing him.


ALL NATIONS BLESSED

Baumard (2016) observed:

Unlike earlier religions, it [Christianity] exhorted people to be good and promised to reward them for their goodness in the afterlife. That is still how most people conceptualise the Christian message: helping others, working hard, controlling one's sexuality and believing that people who don't do so will be punished. In other words, a moralizing religion.

It is true that before Christianity, most religions did not place a high value on morality. The Greco-Roman religions, for example, were materialistic, mostly concerned with rituals, sacrifices and other ways of begging favours from their various divinities.

Christianity's "moralizing" is based in Genesis where "God" says:

Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him... (Genesis 18:18)

...and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves... (22:17)

I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven...and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring... (26:4)

In the New Testament, Peter the Apostle informs the Jews:

You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying, to Abraham, 'And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' When God raised up his servant [Jesus], he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." (Acts 3:25-26)

The "blessing" begins by Jesus turning Jews from their "wicked ways". After that, the "gospel" goes to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19), eventually to "every nation and tribe and language and people..." (Revelation 14:6) All who accept are counted as the "offspring" or "descendants" of Abraham.

"Blessing" includes benefits that come from renouncing "wicked ways" and include "salvation", friendship with God, and ethics that produce prosperity, peace, health, long life, security, benign environment, good relationships, etc.

When ancient nations threw unwanted babies on rubbish dumps, or mutilated children to facilitate their careers as beggars, or gave widows little alternative for survival other than prostitution or slavery, the Bible taught:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)

Sons indeed are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3)

Initially the benefits of biblical ethics went mainly to Christians and their associates. Later Godly ethics including kindness, charity, British law (itself largely based on the Bible), truthfulness, generosity, humility, gentleness, chastity, forgiveness, cooperation, respect for education and impartial justice, were taught worldwide.

Many vicious standards of the past such as mutilation of prisoners, sacrificing people to idols, forcing people to fight to the death in amphitheatres, infanticide, torture, draconian punishments such a crucifixion, degrading prison conditions, and slavery were opposed and finally banned by Christian influence.

In Christianity is the origin of numerous institutions for public welfare when Christians founded or co-founded anti-slavery organizations, hospitals (hundreds of them), schools (thousands), the Red Cross, and charitable organizations. In Australia the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Royal District Nursing Society and many others have Christian beginnings.

In Christianity is also the origin of universities (in the 13th century) and modern science including physics, astronomy, archaeology, genetics, electronics, medical science (e.g. vaccinations, hygiene, antibiotics), calculus, oceanography, etc.

Science and its application in technology has made all nations prosperous. Most Christian intellectuals who contributed to science did not anticipate the worldwide benefits, therefore did not knowingly do science to be kind. Nevertheless a kinder world is the byproduct of science and of biblical ethics. And it began with the prediction to Abraham fulfilled by Christ and Christianity.

 However, most of them expected their discoveries to confirm God's qualities because Romans 1:20 says so — and prosperity is the byproduct.



KINDNESS GOES GLOBAL

…be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Kindness as a principle has gone worldwide. Kindness was part of 1st century Christian life, in effect institutionalized, and is now a feature of many governments in the form of foreign aid, welfare programs, and pensions. In fact something similar to pensions began in Christianity for widows aged over 60. (I Timothy 5:9)

Adelaide's Sunday Mail reported "Kindness is back in fashion", stating that 900,000 volunteers in South Australia in 2016 donated an average of 168 hours. In particular the report mentions:

1.    Two brothers who partnered with Challenging Heights (an anti-slavery organization in Ghana) to combat slavery. Recognizing poverty to be a cause of slavery the bothers employ former slaves to make clothing for the fashion industry. Challenging Heights sets slaves free but employment helps keeps them free.

2.    An actor/singer who supports fundraising events for charities associated with children.

3.    A South Australian Olympic cyclist who supports children through World Vision.

4.    A personal trainer who founded "Australia Angels for the Homeless" which hosts lunches for disadvantaged people.

5.    A Victorian actor who raised $1½ million for cancer research.

The world now has "World Kindness Day":
 
World Kindness Day is an international observance on November 13th. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement a coalition of non-government organizations. It is observed in many countries, and by schools across the globe. (Wikipedia)

The collapse of Communism in 1991 left Russia in a moral vacuum. Russia's Ministry of Education recruited Dr. Olga Lutsenko, an official with the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, to recommend a set of ethics to be taught in schools.

Noting the success of the United States and that "the foundation of the United States was the Bible", she suggested that Russian schools teach Christian ethics. Dr. Lutsenko was appointed to design, "a program of moral education for the entire Russian education system."
 
Dr. Lutsenko became a Christian, moved to Canada, and registered "Kindness Foundation" to establish Christian Education Resource Centres in Russia and Ukraine.

Of course not all kindness is Bible-motivated. Honey Foundation provides kindness materials for school curriculums. Global Kindness Foundation provides dental, medical and optical services to underprivileged people. In Australia a philosopher established a group called "Giving What We Can" in which people pledged to donate 10% or more of their income to effective causes. (Wilson 2010) In Adelaide post-graduate dental students of the University of Adelaide visit East Timor each April to give free dental treatment. (Crouch 2019)

A search with "Google" will uncover lots of kindness. But the linkage of kindness with religion to teach and do kindness worldwide is from the Bible.


THEOLOGY

The table lists Hebrew and Greek words for "kindness", "kind" and "good" and how often each occurs in the Bible. Page-numbers refer to where all Bible occurrences of each word are listed in the Englishman's Greek Concordance and Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance.


Hebrew Words Translation Number of Occurrences Page
gheh-sed kindness; mercy; steadfast love c.240 448
tohv good; pleasing; favor c.560 476
Greek Words


agathopoyeo good 10
1
agathopoiya good; well-doing 2
1
agathos good 102
1
agathosunee goodness 4
2
agapee love 116
3
kalopoion well-doing  1
402
kalos good  92
402
philadelphia brotherly love; kindness 6
786
philanthropia goodness; kindness 2
786
kharis grace; favor; gift 155
797
kreestos goodness; kindness; gentleness 7
803
kreestotes kind; good; gracious 10
803


The Greek word agapee, translated "love", refers to affection guided by Godly principles. We read: "Love is patient; love is kind…" (I Corinthians 13:4)

"Doing good" is a broader category than kindness but includes kindness:

Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God's will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good. (I Peter 4:19)

The main words for kindness are gheh-sed commonly translated "steadfast love" in the Old Testament; and kreestotes and kharis in the New Testament. God is said to demonstrate "steadfast love" whenever He preserves human life (Psalm 6:4; 13:5; 33:18-19; 40:11), helps people in trouble (Psalm 31:7, 21; 44:26), and forgives sin. (Psalm 25:7)

Biblical kindness expects no repayment:

...in the ethical terminology of the Greek schools kharis implied ever a favour freely done, without claim or expectation of return... Thus Aristotle, defining kharis, lays the whole stress on this very point, that it is conferred freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver...  (Trench 1894)

Christians are commanded to "imitate God" (Ephesians 5:1) therefore exhibit kindness without expecting anything in return:

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. (Luke 6.35; Matthew 5:43-48)

An example of kindness without expectation of reciprocation is Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.



Luke 10 The Good Samaritan


PERSONAL BENEFITS


Those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves harm. (Proverbs 11:17)

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and will be repaid in full. (Proverbs 19:17)


Kindness improves relationships and can sometimes soften the attitude of hostile people. (Romans 12:20-21) An old poem about forgiveness, which is another expression of kindness, puts it like this:

Forgiveness

My heart was gall’d with bitter wrong,
Revengeful feelings fired my blood,
I brooded hate with passion strong,
While around my couch black demons stood.

King Morpheus wooed my eyes in vain,
My burning brain conceived a plan;
Revenge! I cried, in bitter strain,
But conscience whispered, “Be a man.”

Forgive! A gentle spirit cried,
I yielded to my nobler part,
Uprose and to my foe I hied,
Forgave him freely from my heart.

The big tears from their fountain rose,
He melted, vowed my friend to be,
That night I sank in sweet repose
And dreamed the angels smiled on me.
(Perfect Jewels 1884)
 
Kindness can also improve mental and physical health. Growald & Luks (1990) write:

Scientists are also finding that good deeds may benefit your immune system. The mind and immune system are intimately linked. Neural pathways connect the brain to the bone marrow and spleen, which produce cells needed to fight infection.

Zelon (2002) writes:

When you do a nice thing for somebody, you’ll notice a beautiful feeling of ease and peac

Kindness along with feelings of love and tenderness, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and increases calmness, yielding lower levels of cortisol in the body… Whether kindness is a caring word or a grand gesture, heartfelt acts can add to your health and happines<>

Kind dispositions also strengthen social networks, making them more emotionally rewarding which brings additional rewards.


CONCLUSION

It is wise to be kind: "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26)

The greatest advocate of kindness, resulting in prosperity, better living standards, and better health, worldwide, is the Bible.


REFERENCES:
 
Baumard, N. Morality tale, New Scientist, 30 April, 2016, p. 35

Blakely, J. 1884 Perfect Jewels, Jenkins & Co., p. 294

Crouch, B. Sinking their teeth into helping needy, Sunday Mail, August 4, 2019, p. 64

Growald, E.R. & Luks, A. The healing power of doing good, Reader’s Digest, February 1990, pp 53-55

Singer, E. It’s the little things that get you, New Scientist, January 31, 2004, p. 15

Trench, R.C. 12th edition 1894, Synonyms of The New Testament, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co, p. 168
https://archive.org/details/synonymsofnewtes00treniala/page/n6

Vlach, A. Kindness is back in fashion, Sunday Mail, August 13, 2018, pp 90-91

Wigram, G.V. The Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament, Ninth edition, Samuel Bagster & Sons

 ----------------- The Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, Samuel Bagster & Sons

Wilson, P. Academic cuts wage, forever, so others may live, The Australian, December 24, 2010

Zelon, H. Choosing to be Kind, Reader’s Digest, January 2002, pp 113-115

http://www.wdam.com/story/25156250/kindness-foundation-founder-reports-on-progress-in-russia-and-ukraine/.htmhttps://globalkindnessfoundation.ca./about-us/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Kindness_Day

 https://www.honeyfoundation.org/kindness-education-program/

https://www.kindnessfoundation.org/

          

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/