How to Be Kind in a Society of Disagreement
- Kristi Woods
- 2019 15 Aug
Ever found yourself smack in the middle of a heated disagreement? It happens. We see differences of opinion concerning politics, celebrities, biblical interpretation, pastors, marriage and other areas embroiling friends and family, churning inside the church, displayed on television, and even unfolding on social media feeds. But how do we remain kind when disagreeing?
What Is Kindness and Why Is it Important?
The Bible mentions “kindness” in over two-hundred instances and “kind” over four-hundred times. It’s an act of charity, or the lifting up (figuratively) of others. God’s word offers wisdom for threading this godly attribute into our lives, even when disagreeing. Let’s begin by looking at the well-known “love chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. It lists several key ingredients of love, our focus word sliding in near the beginning. Indeed, love is kind.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."
1 Corinthians 13:4 assures us that love is patient along with being kind. It doesn’t envy or brag and remains void of pride. In that verse, the noun “love” indicates brotherly affection. But what if we put that noun into action? Like a jigsaw puzzle, a related piece awaits in Mark 12:31 with the call to love our neighbors as self. Might kindness play a part?
Love emerges as a verb in this verse. And not just any verb, but one wrapped in the middle of a command straight from heaven. In fact, this direction spoken by Jesus stands as the second greatest commandment ever. That's substantial. Kindness silently threads through these love verses, its importance ranking high. Wisdom and righteousness prompt us to embrace it—even among a society of disagreement.
Bible Verses about Kindness
-God is kind (Romans 11:22).
-God is filled with it (Psalm 145:17).
-Our Father is rich in kindness—salvation through Jesus is a result (Eph. 1:7).
-Bible instructs us to never let it leave us (Proverbs 3:3).
-Proverbs 31 woman instructs with this powerful ingredient (Proverbs 31:26).
-Kindness offers reward, its opposite (cruelty) brings destruction (Proverbs 11:17).
-God’s kindness intends to turn us from sin (Romans 2:4).
-It is a gift (Romans 12:8).
-Kindness is fruit produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
-Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32).
6 Examples of Kindness in the Bible
In 1 Sam. 20:14-15, Jonathan, father of Mephibosheth and friend of David, requested David never cut off kindness from his family. The shepherd boy who eventually became king, agreed. In 2 Samuel 9, King David put this request into action as he bestowed kindness on Mephibosheth.
In Joshua 2:12, the prostitute Rahab agreed to hide the Israelite spies if they spared her family from their planned attack on Jericho. They agree—with a few stipulations. (Read more in Joshua 2.) Kindness played a part in the rescue and safety of Rahab and her family. It’s also involved in the lineage of Jesus as a result.
The name alone oozes kindness: Jesus. Scrolling through the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we find a multitude of His generous acts. Perhaps the most notable however, is that although He remained sinless, Jesus became the sacrifice for us so that we might have our sins forgiven and live eternally in the presence of God Almighty. Jesus offered His life when we failed to deserve it. Read more throughout the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Acts 9: 36-42 introduces us to a believer named Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, who died. While alive, she offered her kindness to many. In fact, a crowd of widows, all recipients of Tabitha’s generous acts, stood near in mourning as her dead body lay in an upstairs room. When Peter entered the room to pray for the dead woman, the widows displayed the various pieces of clothing she had made them. Tabitha’s kindness impacted many.
The Good Samaritan
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus describes kindness through the life of an unlikely source. The Samaritan, who was a foreigner, stopped to help when others refused.
Disagreements in the Bible
Not only does Scripture provide examples of kindness, but it reveals disagreements as well. Sometimes it helps to review those. One of my favorite passages, Numbers 13-14, centers on two men who trusted God: Joshua and Caleb. They, along with ten other leaders, ventured undetected into the land God promised to give to the Israelites. However, in this territory, they encountered a problem. The enemy, giants, lived there. The situation, in human eyes, looked bleak.
Ten of the leaders crumbled under fear. After all, their rival stood bold and tall! They reported great concern and a need to turn back, leading the entire Israelite community into an atmosphere of disbelief, grumbling, and disobedience. Caleb and Joshua, however, disagreed. Their report hinged on the promise of God and the good fruit they spied in the land. They envisioned potential there and a grand future regardless of the current occupants. Their opposing, faith-filled view, however, caused turmoil within the community.
The Israelites threatened to stone Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 14:10) because of the hope-filled words they offered. But the struggle truly emanated from the community’s distrust in God. This argument revealed a spiritual battle. Do some of our disagreements fit this category as well? Are we trusting God?
Other disagreements can be found here:
7 Ways to Be Kind
Here are more Bible verses and suggestions to consider in our quest for kindness among disagreement. The ones listed below don’t specifically note “kindness”, but they do help us wisely navigate debates and relationships.
1. Listen Well
“So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;” (James 1:19 WEB)
Sometimes disagreements spurn a wild set of emotions, and by golly, we’re ripe and ready to defend ourselves or our point of view. If that means interrupting, so be it. But wisdom encourages us to listen well and speak with caution.
2. Refuse Uncontrolled Anger
“[F]or the anger of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20 WEB)
Anger runs wild on social media at times, especially when politics plays a part. People post, others answer in short-tempered or unkind fashion. But does man’s uncontrolled response, the lashing out of the tongue or fist at the expense of others, produce the righteousness of God?
3. Hold Honest Conversations
Matthew 18 contains a goldmine of information on how to handle situations when a brother has sinned against us. Honest, constructive conversations lead the way.
4. Discern Our Enemy
Some debates work us into a frenzy. We feel attacked by the words of others and consider them our enemy. In those situations, Ephesians 6:12 reminds us those battles are comprised of good versus evil, God’s righteousness against the hurtful pursuits of Satan. People aren’t the enemy. Even when it feels they are. Satan is.
We’re wise to keep this biblical truth in mind as we consider society and the disagreements we view or the ones in which we participate. Focusing on this makes it easier to not take the situation personally, to pray for the other party, listen, forgive, and stay calm.
5. Practice the Golden Rule
The Bible, in Mark 12:31, commands us to love others as we do ourselves. This rule is not only considered golden, it’s God-breathed and encased with strength in each syllable. This #2 commandment, along with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, stands above all other commandments. The Law and Prophets of the Old Testament hang on these two.
Put love into action when debating, discussing, and posting online. After all, those we engage with are people just like you and me.
6. Refuse to Gossip
Slinging gossip after a disagreement might prove easy, but wisdom calls us to refuse it. Find a solid list of verses pertaining to gossip here.
We’re called to pray without ceasing in 1 Thess. 5:17. But that’s just the beginning. The Bible lists many other verses pertaining to prayer. Imagine a world in which folks pray for themselves and those on opposing sides of the debate. Would it be productive? Prayer is a powerful tool.
Random Acts of Kindness
The more we practice kindness in the day-to-day, the easier it will be to display during times of conflict. Below are a few ideas to help us grow in this behavior.
-Send a letter to a friend or family member.
-Give flowers to someone.
-Deliver cookies, freshly baked bread, or fruit to the new neighbor.
-Buy the next person in line’s toll, lunch, haircut, or coffee.
-Ask, “How can I pray for you?” Then pray.
-Give a Bible or a book to a graduating senior or someone in need.
-Cook a meal for a family whose loved one is battling a disease or is recovering from an accident.
-Freely share produce from your garden.
-Return the neighbor’s trash bin from the curb.
-Organize a neighborhood cookout.
-Invite someone who’s lonely on a walk.
-Intentionally offer compliments and praise—in person or online.
-Hold the door open for someone.
-Smile at others.
-Mow the lawn for a military spouse or shut-in.
-Support a trustworthy outreach organization with your time, funds, or other means.
-Ask, “How can I help?”
We hold a tremendous opportunity and biblical responsibility to demonstrate kindness. Why not charge into the day with the wisdom of God’s word and intentional choice to be kind in our society of disagreement?
Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker but mostly a Jesus girl. She writes weekly and offers faith-building tools for a deeper walk with God at www.KristiWoods.net. She contributes regularly at iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com and is published in various print and online publications. Kristi, her handsome, retired-from-the-Navy husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have set roots in Oklahoma--where she keeps close watch for tornadoes and good chocolate. Connect with Kristi at KristiWoods.net.
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