“Love is kind.”
We’re continuing this series on the attributes of love that the Apostle Paul describes in his first letter to the church in Corinth. In the first two posts, I talked a good deal about patience and the importance of waiting and being content with lack while trusting in God for future supply. Now it’s time to move on to the next facet of love: kindness.
Kind. Gracious. Mannerly. Useful in a moral way. These are words we could use to describe the implications of the original Greek meaning, and they provide a useful (to pardon the pun) insight into this aspect of love. Here’s the bottom line: I really need to work on this! You see, I tend to jump to conclusions. I tend to attach motives to people’s actions very quickly, which can prompt a response in me that isn’t always appropriate or accurate. Yet showing kindness means that I behave in a gracious manner towards someone — even if I don’t think they deserve it. I lay down pride, anger, or resentment, and pursue a path of peace. I want what’s best for that person. I want them to succeed. I want to encourage them, build them up, show them I care. I value them. I honor them.
Kindness is like a pleasant odor — the whole room fills up with the sweet smell, and every other noxious fume is displaced. Treat a person kindly, and you will begin to see that the barriers come down between you and a bridge is built. The challenge is that this is sometimes very difficult! If you are being treated badly, or you are having to defend yourself, or you are in disagreement with someone, it’s easy to lose sight of the kindness factor and become self-centered in your thinking. “Well, they just don’t understand me. They just don’t get me. They just can’t see things my way. They’re in error.” Whether that’s true or not is beside the point — once you start to go down that road, it can become impossible to behave in a gracious manner. You can stand on your principals and be secure in your judgement and still be kind, and while that sometimes seems like too much to handle, we as Christians are meant to call upon the Holy Spirit to fill us with the strength and the grace to walk in kindness and humility.
Make kindness a core pillar of your relationship with others, and you will discover a spiritual growth and a harvest of fruit that will stand the test of time and all the pressures of life. And never forget this simple truth of humanity: a kind smile can wash away a world of hurt!