I think of the kindnesses people paid me over the years and I feel a twinge of guilt. Why? Maybe I think it comes with expectations or a price. Maybe I feel like I still owe them something. I was thinking of a friend who helped us out of a bind recently. He had a construction skill set that “came in very handy”. About two months later, he went to the hospital with a life threatening situation. I felt the same twinge and wished I’d done more for him. Then I realized something. When he had helped us, we paid him well. He did a service, but he was also paid in full. Later, when the illness came up, I prayed and my husband prayed. His mom called us a little later and said that within minutes of us learning about his condition, his numbers went up and he began to heal. WOW! What a miracle! He is now out of the hospital and doing really well. I’m not going to take credit for ministering to him, because God is the one who showed HIS kindness and His mercy in the situation. So do I really understand kindness? Do I understand God’s kindness?
1 Corinthians 13 says,
“Charity (agape=the love of God in the renewed mind) suffereth long, and is kind;”
God is Love, and one of the characteristics of God’s love is kindness. Understanding kindness might help me to do it with out feeling obligated or like I’m imposing on someone. So let’s look at the amazing Greek word there for kindness.
Kind= Greek word chrēsteuomai which is a verb and is only used once in the Bible in this middle voice form. It means, “to show one’s self mild, to be kind, use kindness”. Now it comes from a root word, chrēstos which is an adjective. Adjective’s describe a person place or thing. Chrēstos is used 6 other times and is translated into the words, good, goodness, kind, easy, gracious and so on. If this is the word from which we get kindness; God’s kindness through walking in love, then shouldn’t we find out what how God defines it? Let Him define His own term? How do we do that? We look at all the references in the Bible where it is used and learn how it’s defined by its context and usage.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy (chrestos), and my burden is light.” Mark 11:28-30
Wow, Jesus Christ wants you to lay your burdens on God and in turn you’ll receive rest for your soul. Take on the “yoke” or work of Jesus Christ. What was the work of Jesus Christ? I ask you this, who better could teach us how to walk in the kindness and love of God in the renewed mind?
Let’s see another reference.
“But love (agapaō- love with the love of God in the renewed mind) ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind (chrestos) unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Luke 6:35
Wow, isn’t that a strange statement, when usually you hear the sentiment, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” God isn’t like that. God walks in love in the renewed mind and pays kindness to people who don’t deserve it. People who are unthankful and even evil. I know I’m unthankful for Him sometimes, sheesh, more than sometimes! No wonder He says in 1st Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God.” It’s God’s will that we be thankful but even when we forget or are not thankful, He still loves us and shows kindness to us.
Let’s look at another one.
“Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4
Do you despiseth, means belittle, or think too little of God’s goodness; goodness is our Greek word “chrestos”, and forbearance/tolerance, and patience when you don’t realize that the goodness (chrestos) of God leads you to a change of heart/repentance.
We are all changing and growing with God. But this is the epitome of what God goes through to help us change. He bestows kindness after kindness after kindness until finally it melts the hardest heart. What does it melt into? A gooey pile of thankfulness. Gratitude is probably the most oversimplified and underrated gift I know of. God doesn’t need our money. He doesn’t need our service. What does God want from us? Gratitude leads to fellowship. Fellowship leads to more of His kindness which leads to more gratitude. When you’re thankful, its way easier to serve God anyway…don’t you think? It’s watching the slow thaw of an unthankful heart that is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. And it’s God’s kindness that gets people there. I can hear you saying, “Why don’t I just be kind to people all the time in everything? Then I’ll be showing people the love of God.”
It wouldn’t work. It has to matched with the renewed mind walk in love/agape. We have to be kind when, where and how God says to be kind. Otherwise it turns into pride. It turns into our glory, not God’s. And who saved us? You? Nope. God did and Jesus Christ. That’s how some Christians come off “fake” and “holier than thou” and “Miss Goody Two Shoes”. They forget that kindness alone won’t get you there. It has to be kindness directed by God. Sometimes that means being tough. Sometimes that means looking downright mean. No matter what, if you follow God’s directions, you are walking in love and kindness. Sometimes that means we forebear, or put up with stuff, until someone gets to the point of understanding God. We love people, and put up with them, because God’s been putting up with us all this time. God didn’t give up. And that was an act of kindness in itself.
Let’s look at one more. Keep in mind this is a characteristic of God’s love. So this is how He handles us first.
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
How many times has God for Christ sake forgiven you? If you’re having a hard time forgiving someone, think about something you’re thankful for in them. And yes, God does that with you. If it’s His will that WE are thankful, then wouldn’t He be thankful as well? Of course. Doesn’t this change how you think about God? God is kind and God forgives even when we don’t deserve it. Guilt is not of God, but thankfulness sure is.
God bless you today!