Love is kind and love that is kind is one of the reasons why a local congregation thrives, particularly in times of transition, trial and travail. One is tempted to call “kindness” a characteristic of the love of which Paul speaks in I Corinthians – the “more excellent way” for the church to exist is through love that is kind.
However, it is valuable to note that the love-descriptor “kind” like that of “patient” and others that are mentioned in I Corinthians 13 is not a noun…kindness and the others are found in the form of a verb. Kindness is not only something you have it is something you do. As that great biblical interpreter Forest Gumps’ mother might say “kindness is as kindness does!” The Apostle John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit put it this way: “Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (I Jn. 3. 18).
A former New Testament professor of mine, Gordon Fee, defines kindness as “active goodness on behalf of others.” It is not hard to see how kindness like this aides in the fellowship and functioning of a group of Christ-followers who, their unity in Jesus Christ notwithstanding, are diverse in personality, temperament, background, experiences and needs. Who is not impressed when someone demonstrates active goodness toward them? Whose heart does not go out toward and seek to be linked with one who takes the initiative to demonstrate active goodness on their behalf?
The Bible says that kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit Who dwells in the person who has committed his/her life to Jesus Christ. Through one’s faith in the eternal Son of God, our Redeemer, we are reconciled to God since the guilt of our sin which alienates us from God is removed. The sign, seal and guarantee that God’s redemption is ours is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead. The fruit of the Spirit’s dwelling in us is kindness because God is kind.
Philip Ryken, former associate pastor of Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church who is now the president of Wheaton College has written a wonderful little book on I Corinthians 13 to which my wife recently introduced me. It’s a good read and, like most everything else one needs in life save God’s salvation and a good soft-shelled crab dinner, is available through Amazon.
In Loving the Way Jesus Loves Ryken identifies 5 characteristics of God’s kindness toward us which are instructive as we consider the shape of our own ‘active goodness on behalf of others’ in the church. According to Ryken the Bible depicts divine kindness as saving, merciful, life-changing, generous and eternal. So, here are 5 questions as you take personal inventory of your own ‘kindness is as kindness does’ toward your brothers and sisters at Beverly Heights:
- Have I done something for someone that has had the effect of delivering or rescuing or saving them from a dread or difficulty or troubling circumstance or situation? Is the potential there to do so in the next days or weeks ahead? And, has someone shown YOU that sort of love that is kind?
- Have you done kindness in action for someone who, in truth, didn’t deserve it but you did it just the same because the action wasn’t based upon just dessert but upon the law of love of neighbor? What about the loving-kindness that God has shown you in Jesus Christ – did you deserve it?
- God’s kindness toward us is truly life-changing for all of eternity but actively pursuing someone’s good in kindness does have the potential of changing their life in ways we could never imagine. Is it your prayer that the Lord will lead you to show kindness to someone by which their lives will be transformed in ways you may never imagine and never witness?
- Am I looking to fulfill the letter of the law of love by doing the bare minimum or, as I consider the Priceless Treasure from heaven that God gave to me, is my kindness characterized by generosity?
- As I mentioned, God’s kindness to us is eternal in scope and duration because God is eternal. I am not, of course, but for as long as I have life in this world am I, will I be a person of love who shows kindness toward others, particularly but not exclusively those in the church?
The 2nd century Christian author and apologist, Tertullian, wrote in his Apology of 197 AD that in the early church pagans often referred to believers not as christiani (Christians) but as chrestiani (the kindness people). Do the pagans of today know us as the kindness people? Do our brothers and sisters in the church consider us to be kind? Love is kind!
Faithfully in Him,
Posted on Fri, June 1, 2018
by Bethany Thomson filed under