Kindness is a little bit like patience. It’s something that God gives to us that we then pay forward to others. But it’s also more than patience because patience is holding back on something negative, like holding back your anger. But kindness goes further than just holding back on negative, it goes towards freely giving of something positive.
For example, Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, be tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Kindness is paying forward what we’ve received from God, what we have received from Christ.2
In that comparison between patience and kindness, they are two sides of a coin. One big part of patience is restraint, holding back anger, even anger that is deserved. And kindness is giving something, it’s doing something nice, but it’s more than that, it’s also doing something nice that is not deserved. It’s like mercy or grace. It’s giving something that there is no reason that you should give it.
That being said, to call something a random act of kindness is kind of repetitive because kindness is, by practical definition, random. It’s not earned, it’s not deserved, it’s just freely given.
If you want to be known as a person of kindness:
You will probably already be friendly, you will probably already be doing nice things to those people who are close to you and for those people who are close to you, just because.
You’re probably already known as generous. You give freely of your time, your energy, your money, and your resources even to total strangers. You might be the kind of person who would give the proverbial shirt off your back to help a stranger.
You’re probably also more considerate of people’s backgrounds. You’re more understanding of the hurts, the hangups, the habits that predisposed them to acting without kindness, to being unkind and themselves being inconsiderate.
Hopefully, you are also more merciful. Now, this is going beyond just being considerate. This is saying not only do I understand why you’re acting in this particular way, I’m choosing not to hold it against you, I’m choosing not to hold it over your head.
That raises the idea of forgiveness and yes, forgiveness is something that is very difficult, especially if the offense is great. It may not be safe in some situations to say, “well, I don’t hold this against you,” because that could put you in a dangerous situation. So there is a difference between forgiving in a broken relationship and restoring a relationship because restoration depends on it being safe to do that. But you can be merciful, you can be forgiving without expecting the relationship to be restored.