Virtues: The Rewards of Kindness
This post originally ran on October 8, 2009. Please enjoy this series from my early blogging months.
Among my current reading list is Feminine Appeal, Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother by Carolyn Mahaney. This is part six of a discussion on the seven virtues of a Godly wife and mother she amplifies in her book.
The seven virtues she finds revealed in Titus 2:3-5: Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
The Rewards of Kindness
The dictionary defines kindness as “the state or quality of being kind,” which is, “of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person: a kind and loving person; having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence: kind words; indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane (often fol. by to): to be kind to animals.”
It is my natural inclination – my default – to be kind. I’m nice to everyone, almost all the time. I much prefer to soothe feathers than ruffle them. So I had a bit of a hard time figuring out how to word this post because to me, kindness comes very naturally to me.
But, the author listed the hindrances to kindness, and even though I personally find it very easy to be kind all the time, I find these same things can affect me when I get them in big doses:
Hindrance #1: Anger: If you’re holding a wet sponge and squeeze it, what will come out? The liquid contained in the sponge. You may think that the puddle on the floor was the result of the squeeze, but that’s not the case. The squeeze merely revealed what was inside the sponge. The same thing is the case for us when we feel the squeeze of life. What comes out will reveal what was in our hearts in the first place. When you harbor anger or resentment in your heart, when the pressures of life start closing in on you from all sides, you release what was already in your heart.
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. Matthew 15:18
If you find yourself lashing out in anger or losing your patience too quickly with your children and husband, what may that your heart is filled with sinful anger. God’s word provides a solution, though.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:7-10
Hindrance #2: Bitterness
As wives and mothers, we can be especially susceptible to bitterness. Our children and husbands may seem to take advantage of us, ignore us, or say little things that may hurt our feelings, whether they realize it or intentionally do it or not.
When my youngest child, Johnathan, was an infant, my husband worked Monday through Friday out of town. He would come home late Friday night, typically after bedtime, and leave Sunday night, typically after bedtime. He did this for months before leaving for Afghanistan.
I was in pretty bad shape. Our son, Scott, has insomnia and wasn’t sleeping through the night. Johnathan was an EXTREMELY clingy child and would only go an hour or two between nursing – even through the night. On top of it all, I had a very socially active 6th grader and a broken tailbone, so I was in pain constantly. I was in an exhausted fog and alone, and my husband would come in and spend a couple of days and leave again.
For about a 3 week period, in the peak of my exhaustion and pain, I completely resented his freedom to just come and go. My problem was that I never verbalized that to him. The bitterness built up in me until I just wanted to cry and wail and quit. When I realized how horrible my thoughts were, and how bitterness had just taken over my heart, I reached for God’s word and worked my way through it, repenting of the sinful thoughts and feelings and felt them melt away, almost tangibly melt away.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
Hindrance #3: Judging
In The Journal of Biblical Counseling‘s “Judging Others: The Danger of Playing God,” Author Ken Sande defines judging as:
looking for others’ faults and, without valid and sufficient reason, forming unfavorable opinions of their qualities, words, actions, or motives. In simple terms, it means looking for the worst in others.
The fact of the matter is, we have to look for opportunities to be judgmental. Scripture instructs us of the sinfulness of malicious judging:
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. John 7:24
When we assume the worst in our husbands or children’s behavior, we are sinfully judging them. If we repent of that sin and confess our love for them to God, we can gain a new passion for our husband and children’s lives and happiness.
So now what? We’ve looked at and examined some hindrances to kindness – how do we practice kindness? The book covers five specific actions:
- Pray for your husband and your children. Pray for your friends and your family. Pray for your church leaders and community leaders. Pray for people even if you don’t feel too kindly toward them.
- Greet your husband and children enthusiastically and warmly. Be happy when your husband walks in the door from a long day. Smile and say hello in genuine warmth. Kiss and hug on your kids when they wake up in the morning, when they come in from school. Make sure they know that you are happy to see them and to have them in your life at that moment.
- Listen attentively. When your child is telling you about his day, listen to it, ask questions, comment. When your daughter is relaying a story you’ve heard a dozen times, listen to her. When your husband is going over plans for the future, interact and listen. Make sure they know they always have someone eager to hear their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and desires.
- Encourage your husband and children, with actions and with words. Let them know that you are rooting for them and that you’re on their side.
- Be a planner. Plan your day, plan your week, plan your holiday schedule. Plan so that you can avoid the times when the world squeezes you from all sides. Be prepared.
So, this chapter is titled “The Rewards of Kindness.” What does it mean, rewards?
The job of a wife and mother is often thankless. No one but us knows what we accomplish in a given day, week, or month. We prepare tens of thousands of meals and snacks, we make beds and sweep floors, we listen attentively to every story repeated over and over again, we do not react in anger or malice, we assume the best from our family, we pray continually for them — and then what? Do they fall on their knees and call us blessed among women?
Proverbs 31:28-29 says that they will. When you devote your life to your husband and children, the rewards will far exceed the sacrifices. If your children or marriage is young, it’s not something you can see on the horizon – but it’s there. As the years pass, marriage becomes so precious, motherhood more of a blessing. And the rewards will start coming in.
However, our greatest reward is still to come. Ephesians 6:8 promises that, “the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.”
So if your husband and children don’t build you that pedestal in the years ahead, God is watching and making note of all of the good that you do. And even if your rebellious thirteen-year-old doesn’t appreciate it, God does.
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