The Quiet Power of Kindness

Proverbs 31:26, “The law of kindness is on her tongue…”

The Proverbs 31 woman (who was not an actual person, which is good to know) was praised for her multiple virtues. One of those qualities was kindness, which is defined as gentleness or benevolence. As our American culture grows increasingly cynical, crude, divisive and confusing, simple kindness shown to others is more vital to our gospel witness than ever before.

I have observed over my years of ministry and life in general that the effect of kindness on others and myself can be profound.

Three observations:

Kindness should be the “law” on our tongues, just as Mrs. Proverbs 31. It should be our ruling standard, not an optional response, no matter how frustrated or angry we may be. Unfortunately Christians are not always known for kind words toward those with whom they disagree, especially on the volatile cultural issues of our day. Kindness does not mean agreement with our adversaries, but rather should characterize our conversational tone and intent. This requires not just self control but a constant reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to speak and love others through us.

Kindness can bring you the favor of others. The English Standard Version translation says, “A kind and gentle woman gains respect”, Proverbs 11:16. I saw this principle in action a number of years ago. I was working with a group of high schoolers on a church project along with a few other adults. During one of their practices they were acting like, well, like high schoolers. One of the adults became furious with them, harshly scolding them, raising his voice and slamming the door as he stormed out the room. I was at the back of the room (thank you, Jesus), observing this scene and trying to be invisible. That wasn’t the end of the scenario. I heard the students’ comments afterwards and saw how their respect for that adult was badly damaged, his influence greatly diminished, especially after a few other outbursts. This verse was in my Bible readings that week and believe me, I took note of it and learned a lesson that I pray I never forget. 

Kindness diffuses anger, according to Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”    The great majority of time a quiet and gracious word can soften the heart and response of an angry or hurt person. If we speak sharply to someone, we brace ourselves for a sharp word in return. But an unexpected kind response can quickly turn a conversation in a totally different direction. Kindness is its own reward. It keeps me out of trouble and having to explain or apologize for something I should never have said.

Kindness is irresistible. After all, “It is the kindness of God that draws us to repentance” Rom. 2:4. As recipients of His kindness, we must consistently do the same for others, just as the Proverbs 31 woman did.  The most intense and difficult conflicts may need more than one “gentle answer” but by the grace of God, our speech can be characterized by the quiet power of kindness. 

Susie Hawkins enjoys teaching the Bible, speaking, and working with ministry wives from her home base in Dallas, Texas. She has an MA in Theology from Criswell College, and serves on the board of Baptist Global Response (associated with the International Mission Board of the SBC), LifeSavers Foundation. She is the author of  From One Ministry Wife to Another, and has contributed to blogs and various publications. She especially enjoys Tex-Mex lunches with friends and spending time with her grandkids who are beyond awesome.  Susie is married to Dr. O.S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. They have two daughters and six grandchildren.

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