Micah 6:8 says something like this: that God has shown humanity that what he requires of us is to be just, or fair, in how we relate to one another; to show kindness (often translated ‘love mercy’); and to walk humbly, to tread the earth lightly, looking to him.
It seems to me that kindness is at least in danger of becoming a forgotten virtue, and one worthy of reflection. Here are some more thoughts.
Kindness and God’s impartiality
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). He is impartial in showing kindness. Where we only show kindness to those who respond to us in the way we would hope, we do not share in God’s likeness. Where we drop someone who does not choose to follow Jesus with us – as if they were no more than a project on our part – we are idolaters: that is, we have made for ourselves a false representation of God, which in turn will mis-shape us.
Kindness and God’s testimony
On one of his missionary journeys, Paul finds himself in Lystra, where he tells the local population that God has not left himself without testimony: his kindness to everyone in sending rain from heaven, and crops in their season, in giving plenty of food, and filling our hearts with joy, all point to him (Acts 14:17). There may be more to be told – the message that Paul brings, concerning Jesus. But kindness is a big part of God’s self-revelation. Why would we belittle it, simply because it is not the full picture? Why would we assume that until someone has heard about Jesus, they have no knowledge of God, when arguably the greatest Christian missionary of all time explicitly says different?