Monday, March 3, 2008

Love - Part 2: Kindness

Love is patient, love is . . . kind”. Kindness is the second aspect used to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13, and like patience, is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). And again, our God is the perfect example of kindness.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4). God’s kindness, which He has shown toward mankind, leads us to “the repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18). Because of God’s great kindness, He sent His only begotten Son to die in our place, taking our sins upon Himself; “when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:4-5a). He has “made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7). Thanks be to God for the great kindness that He has bestowed upon us! May we follow our Lord’s example, “for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35). May we practice the kindness that He desires us to have in our lives. For “the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all . . . .” (2 Timothy 2:24).

God has also specifically instructed women that this aspect of love, kindness, is to be a part of their character:

Older women likewise . . . encourage the young women . . . to be . . . kind” Titus 2:3-5

Godly women in Scripture can encourage us in this area of kindness by the testimony of their own lives. The woman in Proverbs 31 had “the teaching of kindness on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26). Tabitha (or Dorcas), was a woman who “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.” (Acts 9:36). (To read more on the life of Tabitha, please read “A Godly Example”).

We know that we are to be kind. We see that women are also specifically instructed in this area. We see examples in Scripture of kindness lived out in the lives of godly women. But what is kindness in actuality?

“Some words, such as kindness, are so commonly used, that many times we don't even entirely grasp the fullness of what they mean. Kindness is defined as: “that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses.”* From the definition, we can see that kindness would be having a servant's heart and a selfless attitude; looking to the needs of others, caring so much about someone else's needs that we go out of our way to bless them. It may even be something so simple as a smile, a loving note, or a helping hand.” (Quote taken from A Godly Example; emphasis added).

Kindness is not seeking to satisfy our own wants and desires, but instead having a heart of service to others. A heart earnestly desiring to bear the burdens of those around us. Desiring to bring comfort and rest to weary hearts. Looking for and seeing needs and meeting them, not only physical needs, but also spiritual and emotional needs.

Having this heart of kindness does not just happen instantly. Paul instructs “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14). We must “put on” this heart of kindness. Actively seeking, actively working, actively practicing kindness.

“. . . applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8). What a beautiful truth! If we are practicing these attributes, which kindness is one, we are fruitful and useful for our Master’s use.

Solomon, in his God-given wisdom, says it so well: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3).

*Definition taken from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary to the English Language.

-Posted by Sarah

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