Dr Albert Schweitzer said, “Constant kind­ness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunder­standing, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate”. It’s a funny thing about kindness. The more it’s used, the more there is – because kindness is so contagious.

If we want to be Christ-like, we must develop kindness. Jesus himself tells us, “But love your en­emies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 13:35-36 NIV). Jesus’ point is that since God is merciful, we should show mercy. If God is kind to the ungrateful then we should follow His example. God’s abundant mercy and kindness give us reason to rejoice because we are the beneficiaries, as the Psalmist declares, “For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD” (117:2).

So as we live our lives, we don’t do unto others as they do unto us but as we would like for them to do unto us. We do not do “tit for tat”, but instead as Paul said, we “recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Rom 12:17). To the Thessalonians Paul exhorted, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (1 Thess 5:15). Paul gives us two groups of people to show kindness to: “Among yourselves” would be our brothers and sisters and “to all men” would include everyone else. So we are to exhibit kindness everywhere we go and to all we meet.

What are you wearing? Paul tells us what to wear when he tells us, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col 3:12). Can others see our godly-designed clothes when they meet us? Is our kindness showing? People pay lots of money to wear designer clothes but what we should be wearing is what God commends – compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. These are the attributes Dr Schweitzer tells us will make ice melt. When we enter a room do we cause others to freeze or to warm up and thaw? We should be easily recognised by our warm and friendly ways and should brighten our surroundings because this attitude is contagious.

Peter gives us a lesson in arithmetic when he says, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (2 Pet 1:5-7 NIV/AV). Peter goes on to explain what will happen if we can pass this arithmetic test. He says, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffec­tive and unproduc­tive in your knowl­edge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v8 NIV ). Peter goes on to warn that those who fail this test need a white cane and a seeing-eye dog. He says, “But if anyone does not have them, he is near­sighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins” (v9).

The warning is clear. We can be ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of our Lord if we don’t increase our kindness and love. So let us not forget the forgiveness and cleansing God has granted us from past sins but be clothed with compassion and melt misunderstanding with brotherly kindness and love. Peter tells us that if we do these things we will never fall.