Let us begin with some ideas already familiar to you.
The Golden Rule asks you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is the rule for appropriate behavior. We are also asked to love thy neighbor as thyself. In order to adhere to either of these ideas, you must perceive both yourself and others correctly. (ACIM T-1.6:2-6) Sometimes it seems difficult if not impossible to see either yourself or a brother or neighbor in the light. That is when we must remember it is GOD Who gives the means by which perception is made of yourself and others as true and beautiful enough to let the light of Heaven shine upon everyone. HE shines His loving light of kindness upon you, the Son He loves, and then it is you who reflects that light onto your brother. And is it not a kindness to yourself to hear His Voice, and a joy to learn the simple lessons He would teach about kindness and enlightenment? Then to joyously share His kind lessons with your brother -- does that not greatly amplify the joy? Yes, Joy loves company! (Contrary to worldly belief, misery does not "love" company. Misery represents fear and separation, the opposite to love and joining.)
What you do to or with your brother, what you say to him and think about him, you simultaneously are doing, saying and thinking about yourself -- because “All that I give is given to myself” and “Giver and receiver are the same.” (ACIM W-126 – This Course Workbook Lesson will help you more clearly understand the enlightened concept of giving and receiving in your relationship with your brothers.)
A forgiving, understanding, loving beholder of a neighbor or brother blesses the world as he blesses himself. Projecting guilt or judgment or your own false perception of yourself onto a brother, is not “the way we walk in gratitude." There, in its place, God’s witness has set forth the gentle way of kindness to God’s Son. LOVE is the way we walk in kindness and in gratitude. As God covers you fully with kindness and with care, He holds in love the Son He shines upon. His son reflects the love back to his Father and simultaneously onto his brother and onto everyone everywhere, as the light of love leaves no one in the dark. All light and love come directly from the Father. All darkness is only imagined.
We may think that when we sit in judgment and “constructive” criticism of a brother that we are helping him to “see the light.” Yet what we are actually doing is clouding our own minds and our brother's mind with the darkness of judgment. By thinking kind thoughts of our brothers, we are filling our minds with kindness and light and peace. And that kindness and light and peace, when shared with our brother, brings him kindness and light and peace. And he shares it with another, and so on. We are not hiding our heads in the sand; we are simply recognizing God's Will and Way. This is a reflection of God’s Plan of Atonement. In essence, then, criticisms and judgments are not the means nor the goal of Atonement – PEACE IS.
Jesus speaks about kindness in many places in A Course in Miracles. For example, in Part II of the Workbook where he answers the question “What is the Real World?” he says “The real world arises from a mind at peace within itself. No danger lurks in anything it sees for it is kind and only kindness does it look upon.” (ACIM, Part II, 8.3:4-5)
And again when Jesus speaks about the grace of God, he says, “The grace of God rests gently on forgiving eyes. The kindness of your sight rests on yourself with all the tenderness it offers others.” Therefore, as you offer kindness to others, it rests equally upon you. (ACIM T-25.VI.1)
A wonderful model of true kindness is in the story entitled: "God's Perfection," a story of a disabled boy named Shaya, playing baseball:
At a fund-raising dinner, Shaya's father relates that "the perfection God seeks regarding disabled children like Shaya is the reaction people have to them." He then tells a touching story of a group of boys playing baseball who respond to Shaya's request to play with them. Shaya goes to the plate, swings and misses. It is apparent he does not know how to play. So a teammate comes forth to stand behind him. Together they hit the ball. In the ensuing sequence of selfless choices by both teams, Shaya scores a grand-slam-home-run. The father said the players had reached a level of God's perfection.*
The boys in the story mentioned above had a choice: to shun Shaya, or to accept Shaya. As the first boy chose to be kind and include him, so did the second and the third, as the boys from both teams joined together to help Shaya score a run. Winning or losing a game in this world ceased to be important. KINDNESS won the day (and incidentally -- also won the game in the bottom of the ninth inning).
Where are you in the area of kindness? There is a way to find out. In the weeks to come, you will be offered many opportunities to choose between kindness and unkindness. Select 2 or 3, or maybe 4 of theses opportunities and observe how you respond. Notice if you generally choose to be helpful or hurtful, generous or self-serving. In effect, test yourself.
If in these sample situations you choose to follow the Holy Spirit in being truly helpful, continue moving in that direction. You are on a loving path. If you find yourself ignoring the calls for help from your brothers, or choosing to be self-serving or unkind, this will alert you that correction is needed. At this point, waste no time chastising yourself. Just stop and ask the Holy Spirit for help. Tell Him that you are responding to your brothers in a harsh and uncaring manner, rather than in a kind and helpful way. Ask Him to lead you gently back into the light. He will, as a call to the Holy Spirit never goes unanswered.
Jesus is the epitome of kindness. We are to keep Jesus as the model for our thoughts and actions and to behave like him. Those who accept Jesus as their model are literally his disciples. Disciples are followers and if the model they follow (Jesus) has chosen to save them pain, they are wise to follow him. Jesus teaches that sharing kindness dissipates pain and restores joy. This truth is easy to demonstrate.
In Workbook Lesson 67, Jesus suggests we practice saying and believing that "kindness created me kind" and to embrace the words with actual practice in being kind. Do you consider yourself to be a kind person, a truly helpful person, as the course quote below suggests?
I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wills, knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed, as I let Him teach me to heal.
Is it important for you to say truly that you are redeemed and born anew into a world of mercy and care, of loving kindness and the peace of God? (ACIM W-306.1:4) Let us this week, then, practice tendering kindness as the boys did to Shaya, by listening to the Holy Spirit as He directs you to lead a neighbor or a brother by the hand to go home to the Father. Let us lift this world by doing unto our brothers as we would have them do unto us, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, by perceiving each other in the light of God's loving kindness and receiving a blessing as we are being a blessing. Let us be as kind as Jesus is, as you truly are -- as GOD IS.
*You may see the full story of "God's Perfection -- Shaya Plays Baseball" on www.poeticexpressions.co.uk/Yeswecan.htm -- 5th story down as of this writing. Also read their stories about "smiling" -- "as God smiles on us and offers us the happiness we gave." (W-124.3:2)