Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Armed with Love: Kindness

Love is kind. When I think of being kind I think of being nice. I want my teenage children to be nice to each other. Many hundreds of times have I said, "Treat people how you want to be treated." I want to be treated well, so I will treat other people with the same respect. The problem comes when someone treats us badly, then we want to treat them worse. After all, they must want to be treated bad. They have acted badly towards me.

Kindness goes far deeper then just being nice. Kindness is described by Richard Trench as being,"the expression of a beautiful grace." Kindness is the action of grace. Grace is something you can't earn and you don't deserve. Giving some one a gift is kind because we give it out of love, not because they deserve to receive it. Kindness isn't treating people how you want to be treated, it's treating people better than they deserve.

Kindness is attractive. We were attracted to God because of his kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 says, "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" We want to be in relationship with God because of his kindness. He treats us better than we deserve. The reward for our sin should be death, but instead God gives us eternal life through Jesus (Romans 6:23).

We probably worked very hard to attract our current spouse by being kind to them. When we were first dating, Larry would bring me a little gift every day. It wasn't an expensive gift. Sometimes the gift wouldn't cost him anything, but he still wanted to show me kindness and give me a treat. To me those little gifts were priceless. He still does this. He'll bring me a soda when I really need one, or a little piece of chocolate out of the candy dishes on his customer's desks. I still appreciate it and feel loved. This kindness shows me he was thinking about me through out his day.

I also showed him an extra amount of kindness when we were first dating. The first day Larry came over to a family gathering he got a terrible bloody nose. All the woman in our family rushed to take care of him. I sat by his side and cared for him until the bleeding stopped (which took a while). He knew he wanted to be a part of such a kind family. Not long after that I went to his house when he was sick to take care of him. I enjoyed nursing him back to health. What? Now I run from the room and shut the door when he's sick. I used to baby him, now I want him to man up. This is not kindness. I want to treat him with an extra level of grace, not just when he is sick, but also when he is well. I should treat Larry with more kindness than I treat everyone else and that kindness will draw him to me. I should be so kind he feels as though he does not deserve such good treatment.

Being kind takes extra effort. The extra effort is what makes the recipient feel humbled by the action and therefore loved. This type of kindness is represented by David's mighty men in 1 Chronicles 11:10-19. David had a few super heroes on his side. They were able to win battles and defeat hundreds of men. He was privileged to have them as friends. At this time David was hiding out in a cave that overlooked his beloved hometown of Bethlehem. The Philistines have captured the city. He is reminiscing about his life as a shepherd boy and how sweet the water from the well tasted after a long day with the herd. The mighty men loved David and would have done anything to make him happy. During the night his three friends snuck past enemy lines to fetch David water from that well in Bethlehem. When they offered the water to David, their kindness humbled him. He poured out the water before the Lord saying, "God forbid I should do this! Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?" He knew the water they offered was too good for him. Their offering was only good enough for the Lord.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if our kindness got the same reaction? What if our spouse said, "The kindness you have showed is not good enough for me, it is only good enough for the Lord. I feel loved by God because of you." What efforts can you make today to show more kindness to those around you? Do something special for the one you love every day.

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