A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.  — PROVERBS 11:17

Kindness is defined as an attitude or action that benefits others. It is directed toward others, enjoyed by others, and edifying for others. Cruelty, too, is defined as something directed toward others. But this proverb doesn’t focus on the effect of kindness (or lack thereof) on others. It skips the basic definitions and goes straight to the side effects. It focuses on the results on oneself.

Just as patience ironically promotes those who are most reluctant to promote themselves, so kindness builds up those who are most interested in building up others. Cruel people try to give themselves a boost by harming others, but the strategy backfires. Harming others will eventually cause trouble for the cruel person. Likewise, kindness will eventually be returned to the kind. People who help others also help themselves, and so does God.

But we must be careful how we define kindness. True kindness will prompt a person to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). No one would question Jesus’ kindness, but it could be a very confrontational kindness toward those who distorted truth and righteousness. A wise person will accept that: “Let a righteous man strike me–it is oil on my head,” wrote David (Psalm 141:5). Kindness is an intentional effort to pursue what is good for another person.

Have people been unkind to you? There’s a chance that the reason lies within yourself–not that you are unworthy of the kindness of others, but perhaps you have not made an effort to be kind. A person reaps what he sows, and if one has sown kindness, he will reap it as well.

Perhaps others take your kindness for granted. God will not. An unbiblical saying asserts that God helps those who help themselves. Biblical truth says that God helps those who help others. Do you qualify? Then they, and you, will benefit.

by Chris Tiegreen



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