Last week I began a serious on the characteristics of Christian love with a consideration of fact that “love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4). Today I will be considering the fact that “love is kind.” It would seem that patience and kindness are simply opposite sides of the same coin. While patience is the withholding the punishment someone rightly deserves, kindness is the act of doing good to others.  

 God is Kind to Us

Have you ever stopped to consider just how kind God is to us. God’s kindness is an evidence of His unconditional love to all  people. This is most evident in His giving blessings to all men, even those who are evil and ungrateful (Lk. 6:35). Matthew points out two specific ways in which God has demonstrate His kindness to all men when he writes, “for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Mt. 5:45). You see God’s kindness to us is not based on anything that we might do, but is simply a demonstration of the very character of God.

The most significant demonstration of the kindness of God is the salvation of sinners. For we read, “But 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, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:4-5). The kindness of God is necessarily link to the grace of God, since all have fallen there are none who are deserving of God’s kindness. In fact, we read in Ephesians 2 that we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” and are “by nature children of wrath.”

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 kindnesstoward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:4-7)

Yet God’s kindness is not meant to make us comfortable in this life, but to lead us into repentance so the we might enjoy the next. (Rom. 2:4) In fact, our unwillingness to return to God and embrace salvation is evidence of hardness and unrepentant of our hearts. And as sad as it may seem, it is also evident from scripture that some will continue to reject of kindness of God until the end. “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). It is significant to note that the same action of God can be viewed in two different ways based on those who are evaluating it. To those who continue in faith there is the appearance of kindness, but to those who fall away from the faith is only the appearance of judgment.

 Are We Kind to Him?

Once again some may protest at this point. It seems some what irrational to think that we need to be kind to God. I mean after all we have already seen that in God’s case He demonstrates kindness by giving good to those who do not deserve it. And God has never done anything wrong, so it would seem impossible to demonstrate kindness toward God. Yet would seem like it should be even easier for us to do good to God, in light of His kindness to us. While us must often return good to those who do evil, it is the nature of sin to return evil for His good.

This may be most evident in light of trials. As the tendency of our sinful hearts is to accuse God of our misery condition in the midst of trials. This seems to be the type of attitude that James was attempting to challenge in the first chapter of His epistle. It seems that some people were blaming their temptations on the situations they were placed in. If only God had not placed the temptation in front of them they would not have been inclined to sin. But James counters this thinking by saying that they should “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (Jam 1:2). James basic argument is that God is only capable of giving good things, thus they should see their circumstances as a blessing from God (1:17). In addition, their trials are a means of their sanctification (1:3-4). In the end, they should know that when temptation comes it is not the circumstance that should change, but them. So instead, of responding in bitterness and anger they should thank God for situation they are in and embrace it as an opportunity to offer up their obedience as a sacrifice to God.

 Are We Kind to Others?

The ability to be kind to others must begin with an understanding of the kindness and goodness of God as it relates both to salvation and to the every day events of our lives. God clearly desires us to be kind to other, especially to those who have wronged us or done evil to us (Col. 1:12, 2 Cor. 6:6). In fact it is in the demonstration of forgiving and doing good to those who have done us evil that we are to emulate the forgiveness that God has offered us in Christ. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32). To illustrate the nature and depth of kindness that God expects of us I would like to consider to men where not only genuinely kind to their enemies, but ironically were also great friends: Jonathan and David.

Most of you will be familiar of the story of David and Saul. Saul was the first king of Israel, but after disobeying God, God decided to replace him. God selected David a man who He knew to be a man after His own heart. When David began to rise in prominence, Saul attempted to kill Him. For several years David was constantly on the run from Saul. Yet David refused on several occasions David refused to kill Saul and take vengeance for the things that Saul had done to him. Yet even when Saul finally died David was happy to hear that Saul had been buried and blessed those who had buried Saul saying, “May you be blessed of the LORD because you have shown this kindness to Saul your lord, and have buried him” (2 Sam. 2:5).

But why Jonathan you may ask. Clearly he was never persecuted to the extent that David was, but Jonathan to had a revile, a person he might consider an enemy…David. Yes, his dear friend was also his greatest rival. You see Jonathan was Saul’s son and was likely considered to be the heir to the throne of Israel prior to David’s anointing. So Jonathan would have had plenty of reason to be jealous of David and to treat him poorly. In fact, on one occasion Jonathan also had the opportunity to turn David over to Saul, but out of his love for David, he protected him and sent him away instead. (1 Sam. 20)

For a great example of a person who demonstrated kindness in the midst of bad circumstances, consider Joseph. His brothers sell him off into slavery and then he is falsely accused and thrown into prison. Here is a man who has every reason we might thing of to be bitter and angry about his situation. Yet in the midst of it all He maintains a kind spirit, as demonstrated by his willingness to interpret the baker and the cup-bearer’s dreams, after all it was dreams that had gotten him into trouble in the first place. When his brothers come for help, he gives it to them. And when they finally become concerned that he might take revenge after the death of their father, “Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:19-20).

Indeed that is the attitude we should have in every situation we encounter in which we have been wronged. “You may have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” So let us demonstrate the love of God by being kind to others and returning good for evil.

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