Be kind and rewind. Did you ever see that phrase on the label of an old VHS videotape cassette? It was a request for a simple act, asking the viewer to show kindness by rewinding the tape at the end of watching a movie so that the next person wouldn’t have to. Simply think of the next guy, was the idea.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the practice of performing “random acts of kindness.” Random Acts of Kindness Day evolved from a Sausalito, California, restaurant in 1982 when Anne Herbert scrawled the words “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” on a placemat. Since then people have kindly paid the bills of others in line behind them at coffee shops and grocery stores or have simply held doors open, smiled and said thank you.
But why do we think of treating a stranger kindly as a senseless act? Perhaps because what makes sense to us, is to act in ways that benefit us, doing only what is best for us. In and of ourselves, we’re not likely to think of “the next guy.”
The Bible doesn’t treat kindness to others as senseless, nor does it encourage us to be random in our demonstration of it. “A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself,” the Proverbs teach. (Proverbs 11:17) Kindness and love are to go hand in hand, says the great chapter on love, I Corinthians 13. In fact, kindness is one of the evidences that God’s Spirit is living inside of a person. Kindness is what is called one of the “fruits of the Spirit,” (Galatians 5:22) the marks of a life that has been transformed by a true relationship with God.
Jesus’ own words about showing kindness to others are anything but light and fluffy: “But love your enemies,” He said, “and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (Luke 6:35) Jesus calls for those who follow him to follow God’s example by showing kindness to those who aren’t going to say thank you, those who don’t deserve it. Listen to the verse again, “…he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”
My tendency is to show kindness to those who will reciprocate; people I like, who think like me and share my values. I want evil people to receive judgment, not kindness. The problem is that I can’t show kindness to someone who has done evil to me without forgiving them. Kindness and bitterness can’t hold hands.
That’s what the father of two young children had in mind when he made his kids memorize a verse from the Bible book of Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 32 which says, “Be kind one to another, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, forgave you.” When his son and daughter were fighting away, he would bring them together, make them hold hands and looking into each other’s eyes, recite this verse in unison to one another. Nothing could stop squabbling faster than knowing that this is how family conflict was going to be solved. It was horrible to have to do and definitely stopped the fighting. I know—because I was one of those kids!
We need the kindness of God desperately in this troubled world. Christ-followers, having known the forgiveness and grace of God toward us in our brokenness, need to be the kindest people. Let’s do something kind for another today, but let’s make it purposeful, not random. Let our kindness be senseless, in that we choose to show kindness to someone who perhaps, has wronged us, or doesn’t deserve it. Who will you bless with kindness today?