“But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 (NLT)
God showed us great love and kindness when he sent Jesus to save us, not because of anything we had done to earn it, but because we needed it; we could not save ourselves. As we look at God’s loving kindness this month, we want to pose a few questions:
Love and kindness go hand and hand. Is it possible to be loving without being kind?
Jesus was the personification of love, but was he always kind?
If Jesus was always kind, what form of kindness did he show when his mother and brothers were standing outside asking to speak to him and he answered, “who is my mother and who are my brothers?”or when he overturned the money changers’ tables in the temple, or the many times he rebuked the religious leaders?
To help us answer these questions, we should first clear up the misconception that being kind means being nice. There are clear differences between the two. Being kind means giving others what they need according to God’s will (Roman 11:22-23). On the other hand, being nice means giving the other person what they want, even if it is not what God wants. Being nice focuses on pleasing others, but being kind focuses on pleasing God. Being kind requires us to tell the truth in love (2 John 1:4-6), whereas being nice requires we tell people what they want to hear. Being nice worries about pleasing the other person or what they might think of you, while being kind focuses on what best for the other person in light of salvation (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
The biggest difference between being nice and being kind is that kindness leads us to value one’s soul in light of eternity over making them momentarily happy. Would we let a child (or any loved one) play or stand in the middle of a dangerous street? No! We would push, pull, and if necessary, drag them to safety. Pushing someone is not always seen as nice, but in this case, it is the kindest thing to do.
Simply put, Jesus was kind to everyone he met, but He was not always nice. What example does Jesus leave us for being kind and loving? The kindness Jesus displayed put other’s spiritual well being over pleasing them. Was that also an expression of his love? As his disciples He wants us to show love and kindness to all those who cross our path, even if it means “pushing” them away from the danger ahead. Kindness is a huge part of loving one another and loving our enemies. In order to have strong, Christ-centered relationships with our spouses, children, and friends, we must cultivate kindness for one another. Today and everyday, let us all bear the fruit of kindness with the people God has put in our lives!
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