‘Be kind and compassionate to one another.’ (Ephesians 4:32 NIVUK)
When TV personality Philip Schofield announced on This Morning that he is gay he accompanied the announcement with an emotional Instagram message which concluded with him writing ‘Please be kind, especially to my family.’ Following the tragic suicide of former Love Island presenter Caroline Flack, her close friend who replaced her on the show, Laura Whitmore, paid tribute to her on BBC Radio 5 Live and pleaded with listeners ‘to be kind.’ This was an echo of Caroline’s own message posted a few months before her death – ‘in a world where you can be anything, be kind.’
The reality is this world can be anything but kind. The paparazzi and tabloids are out for a quick sell as they harass people, take unwanted photos and publish intimate information that ruins reputations and relationships. Internet trolls hide behind their keyboards as they deliberately try to disrupt, attack, offend or generally cause trouble. Whether it is designed to insult, such as comments about a person’s weight, to criticize the activities someone is involved in, or to cause offence over a person’s sexuality or religious beliefs, it is little less than cyberbullying, and definitely not kind.
The world would certainly be a better place if we were kind. At least that’s what the biblical writer Paul thought when he wrote ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another.’ It’s not that Christians have a monopoly on kindness, as it seems to me all of us have a responsibility to be kind. Of course, freedom of speech is important, and we may all at times take a stand and speak out on issues that have significance for us. Opposing views and yes even disagreements can be healthy in our society, but should we use those disagreements to be judgmental or unkind?
It was the same biblical writer, Paul, who wrote that ‘love is kind.’ (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIVUK) In other words, kindness is love in action. It’s a practical expression of love that is visible and active, and as a Christian and a human being I have choice to make: whether or not to be kind. Sadly, I can think of many times in my life where my choice has been to be harsh, critical, and inconsiderate – anything but kind. But if there is one thing that Philip Schofield’s announcement, Caroline Flack’s death and Paul’s writings from 2,000 years ago tells me, it is that I need to be kind – how about you?
Have a good week being kind to one another.