Love is patient and kind. (1 Cor 13:4a)
‘Kind’. It’s turned into such a mild, gentle word, used to describe harmless little old ladies who give out candies to children, or the impulse to drop a coin or two into a blind busker’s hat. When we think of a virtue that is hard to attain, we don’t think of ‘kind’ – everyone’s capable of a form of kindness, after all. If we’re not outrightly mean, we’re kind, right? If you told me before I read the 2nd chapter of ‘Loving the Way Jesus Loves’ that I was ‘kind’, I would smile and thank you but not take it as a great compliment, but rather, something you had to dig out because you ran out of positive, affirmative words.
The Bible uses the word ‘kind’, though; it describes God’s love as being kindness. And there is so, so much to it –
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
What is true lovingkindness like?
1. ‘He saved us’: God’s loving kindness saves us from our sin, and from death. Rom 2:4 says it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance, and Rom 11:22 that His ‘sparing’ us stems from His kindness.
2. ‘Not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy’: God’s loving kindness is given to the undeserving, out of His mercy, to the very ones who rebelled against Him.
3. ‘By the washing of regeneration and renewal’: God’s loving kindness is life-giving and life-changing. Because of His grace we are born again and are sanctified to be holy and righteous.
4. ‘Poured out on us richly’: God’s loving kindness is generous. God gave us Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit, and through Jesus we have all spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3). I’ve always been amazed at Ps 37:4 – delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. In other words, He gives you Himself! Knowledge of Him, and a relationship with Him.
5. ‘Become heirs’: God’s loving kindness adopts us as His children. We are not only redeemed like slaves at a slave market, we are adopted to be His heirs.
6. ‘The hope of eternal life’: God’s loving kindness is an eternal gift. How poor the rewards the world offers, that are destroyed by moths and rust, and stolen by thieves. How priceless the gift He has given us that cannot be taken away by man or devil!
Is it any wonder, then, that King David declared –
Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. (Ps 63:3)
I asked my kids,
‘Do you agree with David that God’s lovingkindness is better than life?’
‘Yes. Because it is life.’
Yes, because through it we receive true and lasting life.
Thank you, Jesus, for showing us lovingkindness.
// All credit goes to Phil Ryken, and the second chapter of his excellent book that my Bible Study kids and I are working through, ‘Loving the Way Jesus Loves’. Any problems in interpretation and theology are mine.