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NBCC Spirituality Article

Thoughts on Kindness

The worst kind of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it, come from our conduct to each other. If our conduct, therefore, were under the control of kindness, it would be nearly the opposite of what it is, and so the state of the world would be almost reversed.

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Kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We change places with them. For the time self is another, and others are self. Our self-love takes place the shape of complacence in unselfishness.

Kindness adds sweetness to everything.

Of great consequences is the immense power of kindness in bringing out the good of the characters of others.

A kind act has picked up many a fallen man who has afterward slain his tens of thousands for his Lord, and has entered the Heavenly City at last as a conqueror amidst the acclamations of the saints, and with the welcome of its Sovereign.

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Kindness has converted more sinners than either zeal, eloquence, or learning; and these three last have never converted any one unless they were kind also. In short, kindness makes us as Gods to each other. Yet while it lifts us so high, it sweetly keeps us low. For the continual sense which a kind heart has of its own need of kindness keeps it humble.

Kindness is infectious. One kind action leads to another. Our example is followed. This is the greatest work which kindness does to others - that it makes them kind themselves.

A proud man is seldom a kind man. Humility makes us kind, and kindness makes us humble.

A kind man is a man who is never self-occupied. He is genial, he is sympathetic, he is brave.

If a man habitually has kind thoughts of others, and that on supernatural motives, he is not far from being a saint.

There is one class of kind thoughts which must be dwelt upon apart. I allude to king interpretations. The habit of not judging others is one which it is very difficult to acquire, and which is generally not acquired till late on in the spiritual life.

Now, the standard of the Last Judgment is absolute. It is this-the measure which we have meted to others. Our present humor in judging others reveals to us what our sentence would be if we died now. Are we content to abide that issue? But, as it is impossible all at once to stop judging uncharitably, we must pass through the intermediate state of kind interpretations. Few men have passed beyond this to a habit of perfect charity, which has blessedly stripped them of their judicial ermine and their deeply-rooted judicial habits of mind. We ought, therefore, to cultivate most sedulously the habit of kind interpretations.

Now, the standard of the Last Judgment is absolute. It is this-the measure which we have meted to others. Our present humor in judging others reveals to us what our sentence would be if we died now. Are we content to abide that issue? But, as it is impossible all at once to stop judging uncharitably, we must pass through the intermediate state of kind interpretations. Few men have passed beyond this to a habit of perfect charity, which has blessedly stripped them of their judicial ermine and their deeply-rooted judicial habits of mind. We ought, therefore, to cultivate most sedulously the habit of kind interpretations.

What mistakes have we not made in judging others. Have we not always found in our past experience that on the whole our kind interpretations were truer than our harsh ones?

How many times in life have we been wrong when we put a kind construction on the conduct of others? We shall not need our fingers to count those mistakes upon.

But while common sense convinces us of the truth of kind interpretations, common selfishness ought to open our eyes to their wisdom and their policy. We never perceive that a man is very much himself what he thinks of others. Of course his own faults may be the cause of his unfavorable judgments of others; but they are also, and in a very marked way, effects of those same judgments. A man who was on a higher eminence before will soon by harsh judgment of others sink to the level of his own judgments. When you hear a man attribute meanness to another, you may be sure not only that the critic is an ill-natured man, but that he has got a similar element of meanness in himself, or is fast sinking to it. A man is always capable himself of a sin which he thinks another is capable of, or which he himself is capable of imputing to another.

Kind words are the music of the world.

Kind words cost us nothing, yet how often do we grudge them? On the few occasions when they do imply some degree of self -sacrifice, they almost instantly repay us a hundredfold. The opportunities are frequent, but we show no eagerness either in looking out for them, or in embracing them. What inference are we to draw from all this? Surely this: That it is next to impossible to be habitually kind, except by the help of divine grace and upon supernatural motives. Take life all through, its adversity as well as its prosperity, its sickness as well as its health, its loss of its rights as well as its enjoyment of them, and we shall find that no natural sweetness of temper, much less any acquired philosophical equanimity, is equal to the support of a uniform habit of kindness. Nevertheless, with the help of grace, the habit of saying kind words is very quickly formed, and when once formed it is, not speedily lost.

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