I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them
as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
I ponder the list of love traits found in 1 Corinthians 13, wondering if it might be offered because God asks broken humans to seek out relationship with other broken humans. If it were easy to interrelate with another person would God have needed to be so thorough in articulating the characteristics of Godly loving? Apparently loving successfully, in God’s economy, means we are going to have to do things and behave in ways that run counter-intuitive to us.
Perhaps only in the display of genuine love, one human to another, is the core of the gospel revealed. God relentlessly loves broken, unaware, egocentric, self-destructive, ungrateful people. And He asks us to do the same. It’s a command that would seem perfectly reasonable if I were truly clued in to the depth of my own unmerited favor in God’s eyes. The field upon which sinful man stands is level. Every human past present and future is shoulder to shoulder, irrespective of maladies.
The invitation to come into relationship with God through Jesus is extended to everyone. Some of us accept it. Some of us reject it. But all of us are longed for and sought after by a loving Creator. That in and of itself is the ultimate display of kindness, the second characteristic of the impossible love list.
Love is kind –χρηστεύομαι khraste-yoo’-om-ahee; to show oneself useful, i.e. act benevolently:—be kind.
Kindness has many forums for expression but these days my mind jets immediately to kindness that leads to repentance, (Romans 2:4). Think of the scene in Les Misérables, when the parson offers his last treasures to the thief rather than expose him to the authorities. There the love of God was expressed as a powerful act of kindness toward a person primed for judgment. That scene profoundly portrays the way God loves me and gives me an arguably sobering lens into the way I’m called to love other people.
God also makes it clear that acts of kindness to the marginalized in our society, are an act of love toward Him, (Matt. 25:36-40). To be kind is to be Christ-like. To be kind is to give another human a glimpse into the heart of God. God is love and love is kind. In fact, to extend kindness is to be the love of God to another, (Galatians 5:22-23).
Dr. Gary Chapman names 5 “love languages” as being THE primary ways people are able to receive love. All of them, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time & Physical Touch require kindness before they are genuine demonstrations of love. It’s a core element without which these love languages cannot be successfully delivered.
In the ESV, kindness is referenced 27 times, kindly 16 times. You would be amazed, if you took time to read through these passages, the massive implications of kindness given or withheld. It impacts the moment and reaches far into the future for better or for worst.
The call to kindness is no small thing. When Jesus said, “this new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you,” He was saying a whole lot more than any of us imagine.
Is it kindness when we love a kind person? Yes. But the measure of our understanding of Gods kindness to us, comes as we are kind to those who would push us to the fringes of our sensibilities.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness
is on her tongue.