How We Practice Kindness

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

We all know the Golden Rule: "Treat others as you want them to treat you" (Matt 7:12 CEV). We learned it as children. It's an excellent rule for many self-evident reasons. We all want to be treated with kindness, so it makes sense to treat others kindly. And it's something that almost every culture agrees upon as important and necessary ethical or moral value, as well as one which makes a difference in people's lives.

One 10-year-old girl from California made a fantastic speech about kindness that's being circulated around YouTube. Her premise is that we can make a difference in people's lives by being kind right now, not later. Being kind doesn't have to be hard. Smiling is easy. What she's doing is really awesome … and so is what we can do when we're kind.

But let's ramp up the concept of how we should treat others. We know that Jesus reminded people of an essential law: "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev 19:18, Mark 12:31). The Gospel of Thomas records Jesus as saying, "Love your brother or sister like your soul. Guard each of them like the pupil of your eye" (25). Now that's pretty cool!

How do we guard our souls? Essentially, we're talking about identity. How do we guard or maintain our identity? We feed ourselves spiritually. We balance our lives. We listen to God. We do what makes us genuinely happy. We listen to music, play, dance, and sing. We pray and meditate. We go outside and enjoy nature. We don't let ourselves be influenced by things we know aren't good for us. We don't dump mental garbage into our lives. We keep ourselves pure and strong.

How do we guard the pupil of our eye? Pretty carefully. In fact, our eyelids automatically shut to protect our eyes whenever they sense danger, even if there isn't danger. We raise our hands to our eyes when we need to protect them. We highly value our eyes. In other words, we want to maintain clear and strong vision.

So how would our lives look if we took care of our family members and our friends the way we take care of our soul (our identity) and our eyes (our concept of vision/sight)?

We would see each other's identity through the eyes of God. We would see children that God created—pure and wonderful, able and complete. Rather than seeing people who are mean, exclusive, selfish, disrespectful, angry, etc., we would identify them as God's children who are kind, inclusive, giving, respectful, loving, etc. We wouldn't get involved in trash talking others. We wouldn't spread rumors. We wouldn't criticize or blame. We wouldn't hurt others physically, verbally, or emotionally. Rather, our words and actions would encourage, support, appreciate, and praise others.

We have the privileged responsibility to love others for who they are and to guard them—to keep them safe, fight for them, help them maintain a God-given sense of themselves, and treasure them. What a gift! What a way to make a difference.