The Prophet Joseph Smith remarked, “When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith , 240).
There is power in kindness. Elder Gary E. Stevenson spoke about this power when he shared in his April 2021 general conference talk the results of an experiment with rabbits. The rabbits that were treated with love and kindness had significantly higher health outcomes. Elder Stevenson said, “For me, this lays another brick in the foundation of kindness as a fundamental, healing gospel principle. . .one that can heal hearts emotionally, spiritually, and, as demonstrated here, even physically” (“Hearts Knit Together,” Liahona, May 2021, 20).
Kindness is also an action word
Kindness is an action word. The Lord’s plan includes a way to improve our physical health as we receive and give kindness to one another in our efforts to minister to each other. There are hidden blessings of health we can receive as we strive to do acts of kindness.
I had experiences with two doctors that illustrate the power of kindness to soften the impact of unwanted or unexpected news. The first doctor seemed disinterested in helping me. He abruptly ended our very short conversation when he said, “Maybe you’ll just get better.” A few months later I spoke to a second doctor. His message was much the same, but he was kind and patient in his manner. After a lengthy conversation he said, “There may never be an explanation.” His kindness removed the sting. It made it easier for me to hear what probably was the truth. I finally comprehended the statement by Joseph Smith that even the least degree of kindness and love does have a powerful effect upon the mind.
The words of Eliza R. Snow are inspiring: “In administering to the poor, the Female Relief Society has other duties to perform than merely relieving bodily wants. Poverty of mind and sickness of heart, also demand attention; and many times a kind expression . . . a few words of counsel, or even a warm and affectionate shake of the hand will do more good and be better appreciated than a purse of gold” (Female Relief Society,” Deseret News, April 22, 1868, 81).
Kindness is a great treasure
Kindness is more valuable than gold and can be a treasure of charity and love, as taught by President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Like the small flecks of gold that accumulate over time into larger treasure, our small and simple acts of kindness and service will accumulate into a life filled with love for Heavenly Father, devotion to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a sense of peace and joy each time we reach out to one another” (“Finding Joy Through Loving Service,” Liahona, May 2011, 49).
Kindness warms the heart and extends a feeling of love to the receiver. Kindness can be defined as being thoughtful, considerate, helpful, and relief-giving. Acts of kindness encompass a myriad of commandments: “Love one another” (John 13:34); “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves” (Jacob 2:17); “Administer relief” (Jacob 2:19).
Jesus Christ showed us how to be kind
The greatest exemplar of kindness is our Saviour, Jesus Christ. He was unafraid to touch those who were labelled unclean as He reached out and touched many when it was unacceptable by the social morays of the time. He acknowledged those who were ignored and even banished from society. His kindness was evident in His words, actions, the time He spent with people, eating with them, blessing them, healing them, and acknowledging them.
“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee” (3 Nephi 22:10). I love this scripture! No matter how difficult life becomes the Lord will be there. I daily find evidence of His presence in the kindness manifested by the people I meet. I pray for kindness and there it is. It is miraculous and wonderful and constant. There is a gift in kindness that smooths the rocky road and the day is more manageable. Kindness is the powerful goodness of the Lord. He can reach through the noise of our lives and when we are aware, we can #HearHim in encouragement and comfort. We can bask in an oasis of peace and kindness that might last for seconds only, but the influence can stretch far beyond to days, weeks, and years.
My heart overflows with the words of Isaiah: “I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed …and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses” (Isaiah 63:7).
Feel gratitude for God’s kindness to us
President Henry B. Eyring has urged us “to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness” (“O, Remember, Remember” Ensign October 2007). Joseph Smith has set an example for us when in a period of trial and persecution in 1831, he wrote of the Lord’s “watchful care and loving kindness . . . day by day” (History of the Church, 1:188-189).
The “Rabbit Effect” spoken of by Elder Stevenson is truly active in my life. I feel Heavenly Father sending me kindness in little packets. I’ve been ready to weep then a text appears. It doesn’t have to be anything special just a report of what’s happening that day. I’ve had scriptures shared with me that helped me endure the night. I’ve had sisters knock on my door at the very moment I needed help to endure the day. They don’t always need to bring something except themselves and a willingness to share their time. I’ve also had those times when I craved something to eat and then there it was in the hands of a friend at my door. I’ve knocked on a friend’s door and been invited in and given a listening ear and encouragement. There have been so many small and big errands and chores done in my behalf that I cannot begin to count them all. Packets of kindness come in all shapes and sizes.
President Eyring has also taught, “As you thank God for His kindness, you will think of others, by name, who need your kindness. Again, that experience will surprise you every day, and over time it will change you” (“The Priesthood Man,” Ensign, May 2014).
As we extend kindness to others, we can feel a change of heart and gradually we will be filled with the pure love of Jesus Christ. Our acts of kindness, day by day, even drop by drop will continue to #LighttheWorldwithLove and lead us to life eternal. As the song says, “Kindness Begins with Me” (Children’s Songbook, 145).