Viewpoint: Be Kind
Contributed By the Church News
- Our love is shown in our day-to-day interactions one with another.
- Kindness has the power to lead people away from sin.
- Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion.
“Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.” —Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this away again.”
This anonymous proverb, attributed to “an unnamed Quaker” in Scott’s Monthly Magazine, June 1869, is one we might strive to live by. (See http://quotes.yourdictionary.com/kindness.)
President Thomas S. Monson said: “There are many attributes which are manifestations of love, such as kindness, patience, selflessness, understanding, and forgiveness. In all our associations, these and other such attributes will help make evident the love in our hearts.
“Usually our love will be shown in our day-to-day interactions one with another. All important will be our ability to recognize someone’s need and then to respond” (“Love—the Essence of the Gospel,” Apr. 2014 general conference).
President Monson recited a poem by an unknown author:
I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.
Joseph Smith taught: “Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, which the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind” (History of the Church, 5:323–24).
Ponder this statement: “As a people we are advised not to be critical, not to be unkind, not to speak harshly of those with whom we associate. We ought to be the greatest exemplars in all the world in that regard. Consider the criticism today. Pick up your newspapers and see the unkind things that are being said by individuals about others, and yet many times the individual who is criticizing has a beam in his own eye and does not see at all clearly, but he does think his brother has a mote in his eye.”
This statement is as applicable today as it was 65 years ago, when President George Albert Smith made it in the October 1949 general conference. All we need to do is add various other media to the newspapers he mentioned.
On another occasion, President Smith declared that every influence for peace ought to be exercised. “Lucifer is exercising every means to destroy the souls of the human family. He is more active than he has ever been and he works in such an insidious way. … [There] is one way in which he operates, and has operated from the beginning of the world, and that is to tempt one individual to destroy the reputation of another by saying unkind things of them” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith ).
Shakespeare’s Portia declared that mercy “is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes” (The Merchant of Venice, act 4, scene 1). Likewise, kindness blesses in two ways. We feel much better when we speak with kindness to others than when we speak harshly or critically, and, as Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years.“
Further, Elder Wirthlin said: “Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.
“Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion. He healed the sick. He spent much of His time ministering to the one or many. He spoke compassionately to the Samaritan woman who was looked down upon by many. He instructed His disciples to allow the little children to come unto Him. He was kind to all who had sinned, condemning only the sin, not the sinner. He kindly allowed thousands of Nephites to come forward and feel the nail prints in His hands and feet. Yet His greatest act of kindness was found in His atoning sacrifice, thus freeing all from the effects of death, and all from the effects of sin, on conditions of repentance. …
“We are all children of our Heavenly Father. And we are here with the same purpose: to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
“One way you can measure your value in the kingdom of God is to ask, ‘How well am I doing in helping others reach their potential? Do I support others in the Church, or do I criticize them?’
“If you are criticizing others, you are weakening the Church. If you are building others, you are building the kingdom of God. As Heavenly Father is kind, we also should be kind to others” (“The Virtue of Kindness,” Apr. 2005 general conference).
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” President Monson has echoed that philosophy many times as he has heeded promptings to reach out to people in love and kindness.
May we “speak kind words to each other” (“Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words,” Hymns, no. 232).