KiNDS OF kINDNESS
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
First Corinthians 13:4
The God we worship can be described with many adjectives such as, holy, beautiful, glorious, and loving. Perhaps one of the least celebrated attributes of God is that He is kind.
The LORD is righteous in all His ways
and kind in all His works.
As we worship God and we “behold” His attributes, we are conformed closer to them. When a believer worships the God of the Bible (who is loving, faithful, generous, gracious, holy, and kind) they will increasingly develop these characteristics in their life. The same principle of worship applies to those who have a wrong God or wrong view of God. Those who see God as a War-Mongering Shiek, they will tend to display the fruit of terror toward others. For those who are beholding the God of the Bible, the fruit in their lives will be that their character is transformed into being more merciful, loving, patient, caring, tender-hearted, and kind.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18
Being ‘kind’ is being friendly, generous, and considerate. Kindness may be shown when there is an expectation that the kindness may be returned. This might happen when a work colleague gives another colleague a lift to work without seeking any payment, except the possibility that the favour may one day be returned. There is another kind of kindness which is more concerned with how others see it. A husband, who rarely (if ever), opens a door for his wife when no-one is looking, but shows door-opening kindness toward his wife when he takes her to a work dinner. And there is a rarer, Christ-inspired, kindness which is very generous, very costly, and given without any expectation of it being returned or viewed.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Kindness is a preeminent trait of the Christ follower. There was once a husband and father who was also a soldier. He was sent to war which meant being away from his wife and children. During his time away, he wrote regularly to his family. As the conflict went on, the letters slowed, then stopped. Obviously concerned, his wife hoped and prayed that her husband was safe. Then the tragic letter arrived. It was from her husband. He told his wife that he would not be returning to her and the children because he had met and fallen in love with a local girl who had given birth to their son. His wife was devastated. She cried and cried out to God for answers. The years went by and life was a struggle for her and her children. Then, to her surprise, she receive a letter with a request from her ex-husband by mail. In that letter he told her that he had been diagnosed with cancer and only had a short time left to live. This would mean that his new wife and child would have no means of support. He was arranging for them to migrate to live as citizens in the country where his ex-wife was. His request? He asked his former wife if she would take them in and look after them. At first, his ex-wife was staggered at the request but after prayer she felt that despite her own meagre situation she should show kindness to this woman and her child. When they arrived, she welcomed them into their home and for the next few years gave them free board and lodgings. This was kind of that man’s first wife.
THE CHALLENGE OF KiNDNESS
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
First Peter 4:13-14
The early Christians were noted for their kindness. One First Century Roman historian wrote about these odd Christians loving each other and those who were ordinarily despised. Historian Prof. Rodney Stark has stated –
“…what Christians did was take care of each other. Christians loved one another, and when they got sick they took care of each other. Someone brought you soup. You can do an enormous amount to relieve those miseries if you look after each other…
Abortion was a huge killer of women in this period, but Christian women were spared that…We’ve unearthed sewers clogged with the bones of newborn girls. But Christians prohibited this…Christian women also had “tremendous advantages compared to the women next door,” he said, adding that non-Christian girls could be married as young as 11, but Christian girls could wait until the age of 18.”
(Interview with Christianity Today, 2000)
“To cities filled with homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.”
– Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force
To worship Christ is to increasingly become kind toward others. We could do it because we may have the kindness returned. We could do it because our kindness is on display. But we should do it because we worship a kind Saviour who when He was mistreated did not return the mistreatment, but instead, showed kindness. I suspect that in the days to come this aspect of our devotion to Christ may well be put to the test.
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
First Peter 3:9