Practical Kindness OR How to Be a Nice Person

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I struggle with bad attitudes frequently. I really like things to go my way, meet my expectations and cater to my needs and wants. And I begin to feel the crankiness meter rising as soon as they don't.

When things don't go my way, I can be not the nicest person. Maybe I don't lash out and yell, but I have definitely turned to grumbling, casting dirty looks, or determining to show how miserable I am to everyone else so they feel uncomfortable. Super immature, I know.

not my kid, but still stinkin' cute
Some may equate this with the behavior of their two-year-old, but the truth is, we are all born with a sinful nature. Our internal bent is to look out for ourselves first and do everything we can to fulfill our desires.

Scripture tells us that, "those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires." (Romans 8:5)

Until we come to trust in Christ for our salvation and are given the Holy Spirit as our guide in living a holy, set apart life for the glory of God, all of us live according to the flesh. However, in Christ we do have the guarantee of the Spirit, and as soon as we place our faith in Him, He begins sanctifying us, transforming us daily so that we look more and more like Christ.

Let me pause a moment and say, Thank You, Jesus!

And then let me say, even while living under Jesus' Lordship, it is hard to choose to respond to people and circumstances with kindness and patience.

Because of this, I want to offer some practical tips for living out kindness in our daily lives because this fruit of the Spirit really does set us apart and makes Christ look attractive to the world.

And as I am sharing these, know that the reason I do so is not because I have achieved perfect kindness or mastered how to handle these situations. Far from it! Like I said right at the get-go, this is a frequent struggle for me. But I have been asking the Lord to refine this area of my character, and I've been doing a lot of study in Scripture and elsewhere on how to live out kindness.

First, the physical.

Our emotions and reactions are impacted greatly by our physical state, both our general health, and more temporary conditions like hunger and thirst. Most of us have control over what we eat and drink and whether we exercise, and these are just some of the ways that we can set our physical bodies up for success so they don't affect our moods as much.

Exercise: Exercising plays a huge role in regulating our hormones, which in turn affect our emotions. When we exercise regularly, whether that's an evening walk around the block or a Crossfit class before work, we help activate the happy hormones in our bodies. There are so many other benefits to exercise, but this is not a post devoted to overall health, so I'll keep it short and sweet.

Eating Sensible Food: This is a really sensitive area for a lot of people who struggle with eating disorders and addictions. I myself have struggled with food addictions in the past, and it is so hard to break bad habits. Again, this post is not meant to give guidance on how much or what to eat specifically. That is up to you to determine with your doctor, a nutritionist and the Lord. But I know from personal experience that I feel so much better when I eat more "clean" whole foods. Choosing home cooked meals over fast food more often, fresh fruits over sugary desserts and veggies over salty snacks nourishes my body and keeps my mind clear, which sets me up to have a better attitude throughout the day.

Drinking Water: Our bodies are made up of a whole lotta water, so it makes sense to keep the water flowing through to feel our best. When I get dehydrated, I get cranky real fast, so I try to keep a full bottle of water on hand at all times so I can drink as I feel thirsty and make sure dehydration doesn't get in the way of my attitude. Also, there is no other drink (no matter how it's marketed) that will hydrate our bodies as effectively as water.

Sleep: Getting a full night of sleep (7-9 hours depending on what your specific needs are) has a huge affect on our moods. Lack of sleep affects our brains negatively, impairing our ability to respond to situations with self-control.

Second, the Mental.

Calendar and To-Do List: Keeping a calendar and to-do list helps declutter our minds of our schedules and tasks so we can free a little extra mental space. I'm not sure how scientific that last statement is, but I know it's true for me. And with as many professional organizers and bloggers are out there talking about eliminating mental clutter, I'm inclined to believe it's true for many people. When our minds are bogged down by lists and ideas and errands and all the things, it's hard to be in the moment and focus our attention on showing kindness toward others.

Journal: This is a habit I need to re-establish. I have at least 20 journals I filled up between the ages of 9 and 23, but since I got married I haven't kept up the journaling habit. Journaling, like keeping a calendar and to-do list helps free up mental space. It also helps to process thoughts, emotions and experiences from the day and think through what we did well and what we could improve.

Last, but most important of all, the Spiritual.

Thank God again for the gift of the Holy Spirit! Last night I was singing a song to my son before bed that talks about how I am one with Christ. The Holy Spirit of God lives in me! It filled me with awe and wonder once again, and most of all, gratefulness at the kindness of God toward me and all who believe in Jesus!

That being said, what do we do when circumstances don't allow us to exercise, eat clean, drink water, journal or keep a calendar? Certainly we have control over these areas of our lives most of the time. But there are times when we can't attend to all of these things, which leaves our physical and mental selves in a compromised state. How do we choose kindness then?

We can choose kindness in every circumstance, no matter how we feel, because of the Spirit of God living inside us and guiding us toward righteousness. This is the resource Christians have that no one else can tap into. We have access to the Highest Power in the universe, and that should make us fall to our knees with gratefulness. Holy, holy is the Lord, and how great is His love for us!

Without the Holy Spirit, we would be left to "white knuckle" it, and all our striving toward displaying the fruit of the Spirit would be in vain. The Bible says that apart from Christ, all our righteousness is as filthy rags. Worthless. No matter how ship-shape we keep ourselves mentally and physically, nothing and no one can help us live up to God's standard of kindness other than the Holy Spirit. And without Him, we cannot make Christ look beautiful to the world.

Earlier I mentioned Romans 8:5 and how it talks about minds controlled by the flesh. But there's always good news on the other side of bad news in the Bible, because the Good Book is all about how God redeems every single thing that has gone wrong because of man's sinful choices.

So here's the whole verse: "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."

Yes! There it is! But still, how do we live in accordance with the Spirit? What does that even mean?

I believe verse 6 is the key to unlocking this promise: "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace."

Oh, to have a mind governed by the Spirit of the Living God! As I've been studying and praying on kindness over the last while, this verse has become a precious treasure. I hold it close and remind myself of it when I am tempted to lash out or spiral into grumpiness.

When we surrender our lives to Christ, we submit to His Lordship over us. This isn't easy because we still battle our flesh and our desire to always be in control, but it is made easier knowing what a good, kind Master we serve.

The same is true of the Holy Spirit. We can suppress His voice as He convicts us and urges us to walk in righteousness. I certainly have. Or we can position ourselves to listen to Him and place ourselves humbly under His guidance because He is a gentle leader, and we live most blessed within the parameters of His governance.

And here is my "practical Spiritual tip" to have a mind governed by the Spirit: Saturate yourself in the Word and worship of God. The more our minds are filled with His truth and loveliness, the more we recognize His voice, and the stronger our desire will be to be quick to obey and quick to show kindness, even when our flesh desires otherwise.

Lord, give us minds controlled by Your Spirit,
that we may display the beauty of Christ
through our kindness,
in turn reaping abundant life
and sweet, sweet peace!

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Hello! I'm Faith. I'm a verbal processor who wants to love the Lord and love people with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I write to think and think to write. I don't drink coffee. I am a dogless dog lover. I enjoy hosting large parties in my home, and I enjoy being alone. Join me in looking to Him and pursuing A Radiant Face.


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