The standard for the love of God is giving all. It reaches into the very depths of the powers of your soul. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.”
The standard for the love of neighbor is love of self. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
You may have problems with the two short words as yourself, words too often overlooked. You should love others in the same measure as you love yourself — as if your neighbor were your very self. Such love is naturally kind.
When you are kind, you put others in the place of yourself. Self-love becomes unselfishness.
Kindness in God is the act of creation and the constant preservation of the world in existence. From divine kindness flow, as from a fountain, the powers and the blessings of all created kindness.
Kindness also means coming to the rescue of others when they need help, if it is in our power to supply it. This, too, is the work of the attributes of God toward His creatures. His omnipotence is forever making up our deficiency of power. His justice is continually correcting our erroneous judgments. His mercy is always consoling our fellow creatures under our unkindnesses. His perfections are unceasingly coming to the rescue of our imperfections. This is Divine Providence.
Kindness is our imitation of Divine Providence. Kindness, to be perfect and lasting, must be a conscious imitation of God. If you are earnestly conforming yourself to the image of Jesus Christ, sharpness, bitterness, and sarcasm disappear. The very attempt to be like Jesus is already a source of sweetness within you, flowing with an easy grace over all who come within your reach.
Not only is kindness due to everyone, but a special kindness is due to everyone. Kindness is not kindness unless it is special. Its charm consists in its fitness, its timeliness, and its individual application.
Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It makes life’s capabilities blossom and fills them with fragrance. Kindness is like divine grace. It bestows on men something that neither self nor nature can give them. What it gives them is something of which they are in need, or something which only another person can give, such as consolation. Besides, the manner in which this is given is a true gift itself, better far than the thing given.
The secret impulse out of which kindness acts is an instinct that is the noblest part of yourself. It is the most undoubted remnant of the image of God, given to us at the beginning. Kindness springs from the soul of man; it is the nobility of man — a divine rather than a human being.
Art for this post on Kindness: Cover and featured image used with permission.