Jerry Bridges writes, “Kindness is a sincere desire for the happiness of others,” and “goodness is the activity calculated to advance that happiness.” In this chapter Carolyn Mahaney uses both of these definitions to round out the godly woman’s role of kindness.
She gives three things (SIN) that inhibit our kindness: anger, bitterness, and judging. She shares James 4:1-2, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? You desire and do not have.” I was convicted of this recently. Long story short, I found myself angry at Robert, my amazing, hard working hubby, not for anything that he had or even hadn’t done, but because of something that I wanted (or didn’t want in this situation). [Again , as always, it is my sin that causes my relationships to suffer!] And that is how it goes, “We need to recognize that ’wanting my way’ is really the driving force that propels our anger.” Even still, so many times what we want or what we don’t want is inconsequential in the whole matter…Carolyn Mahaney shares this paraphrase of John Calvin, “’The evil in our desires often lies not in what we want but that we want it too much…’ more than I want to glorify God by being kind.” The Lord kindly provides a solution, though, right there in the same chapter, verses 6-10 command us to humble ourselves and submit to God. We must remember that “sin is always the wrong choice,” but God’s grace does abound to cover our sin and equip us for good works – like kindness!
She then goes on to say instead of the sins that inhibit our kindness we should have a reputation for goodness, known for praying, greeting, listening, encouraging, and planning. At first that might seem like a strange list in regards to kindness, but really, think about it. Praying – “What spectacular potential prayer has to further our husbands’ and children’s happiness!” Seriously, what better service can we do for our families? The Lord is the perfect source of all good things, including our families and their joy! Greeting – “When they awake each morning, call on the telephone, or enter the house, this seemingly small act of greeting will go a long way to advance their happiness.” Who doesn’t love to be warmly received; it makes you feel special! Listening – “Listening is the prerequisite to being a ‘woman of understanding’ who draws out ‘deep water’ from the hearts of her family members” (Prov 20:5). Women always talk about how they wish their husbands would talk to them, share their feelings, blah blah blah…well, being quiet and taking the time to listen might encourage that! Encouraging – “Specific encouragement…will strengthen their souls and provoke them to godliness.” Complimenting our husbands, especially in front of others, is super encouraging and so easy! Planning – “[t]ake time to just to think about each member of [your] family – what that person likes and appreciates, what would entertain or refresh him or her.” Being organized is a great way to make serving your family a priority. These are just a few practical ways to show kindness to our families.
And this is the goal – “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many woman have done excellently, but you surpass them all’” Proverbs 31:28-29. Carolyn Mahaney shares, “I can tell you from experience that if you devote your life to advancing your family’s happiness, the rewards will far exceed the sacrifices…” and “regardless of who takes notice in this life, God is watching. He is recording every expression of kindness and every act of goodness. What greater incentive could there be to advance our families’ happiness?”