The Kindness Paradox

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Are you a kindness hypocrite? Welcome to the club!

A man once told Dwight Moody, the prolific evangelist of the late 1800s in the U.S., “I’d become a Christian if it weren’t for all the hypocrites in the Church.” 

Moody responded, “Yes, and there’s room for one more!” 

A couple of weeks ago Janie and I drove to another part of the LA area to coach a church that did a Christmas gift wrapping outreach. They wrapped presents for free with no donations allowed – all to show God’s love in a practical way. 

I love those outreaches this time of the year. People are thankful, but even more they tend to experience a tilt – maybe a different view of what Jesus followers are all about. “They wrapped my presents to show God’s love in a practical way. What’s that about?” 

On the way there, going down an LA area freeway, a particularly offensive driver cut in front of us. I was so ticked I sent him a double California peace sign. To do that on the freeway isn’t a good thing, but to do that on the way to show people how to “show God’s kindness in a practical way” just proves my point. Do I feel bad? A little. At the same time, it reminds me that I am a little divided – probably like all of us. We are capable of all sorts of regrettable shenanigans, even on the way to show God’s kindness. 

For all I’ve have written about kindness and generosity for decades now, I realize time and again that I am not a naturally kind person. I don’t feel horrible about that actually, for we are pretty much all in the same boat with kindness. We have our moments of flowing in the powerful kindness and generosity of God.

That raises the question, “Is it possible to act in a kind way when you really aren’t all that kind?

The problem of hypocrisy isn’t really an issue unless we choose to not be honest and transparent about it. If you aspire to live a consistent life doing and thinking as Jesus would, then you already know that approximately ten out of nine of us are inconsistent – at least on our own. We need a God intervention. Fortunately God specializes on creating those as we are merely honest with him.

Don’t ponder the feeling that you are a hypocrite. Exit the path of thinking, “What’s the use. I’m just not kind, or sometimes even nice to others.” It’s a waste of energy to go down that path. That isn’t the way to ponder life. If you wait till you are ready to be kind, you’ll never make an effort to live as a kind person. You aren’t so much a hypocrite as you are like everyone. We are all capable of running both hot and cold – even in the course of a single hour sometimes. 

If you want to live an increasingly kind life, then practice being kind. As it is with most of life, start by deciding to behave kindly then. Practice kindness as an act of your will if nothing else. In time the kindness “flywheel” will kick in much the same as with your car’s engine. Whole life momentum will come from that act of your will. 

The encounter with the driver on the freeway could have gone worse. What if this had happened on the way home from the outreach – and the driver was one we served. Yikes! Yet I know from experience that as God moves through me there’s a good chance others will begin to be infected with his presence which flows through any life available to him – hypocrite or not.

Steve has spoken, mentored and modeled to churches and leaders around the world with the simple message that anyone – regardless of their gifting or experience – can be involved in bringing God’s loving kindness to others. His first book, Conspiracy of Kindness has been translated into several languages with more in the works. His first book has sold over 300,000 copies. Altogether his books have sold over 500,000 copies.