Summer Soak: Kindness

This week’s memory verse:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 (emphasis added)

Love is kind.

To be kind is to show mercy, be gentle, have a sympathetic or helpful nature (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed.).

Kindness is something the world longs for, looks for in others. The whole wide world is hungry for kindness. Test and see if these words are true. Look into the eyes of the one serving you drinks, the cashier checking out your groceries, the stranger beside you in the doctor’s office. Nothing says love like a little kindness.

Stacy says:

If there’s one person I have the most problem being kind to… it’s me. I’m hard on myself, probably harder than anyone else would be. I’m my own judge and when it comes to my issues, my struggles, rarely do I have much sympathy. So when the Lord spoke quietly, Tomorrow… be gentle and kind to yourself, I was taken by surprise.

What does that mean? Be gentle and kind to myself? What does it even look like?

It may sound silly, but I decided to just do whatever seemed gentle and kind the next day. On the top of my agenda: Get my nails done. It is something I haven’t done in twenty years and so I went to bed with a plan in mind.

When I woke up the struggle began. I came up with a thousand reasons why getting my nails done was just plain silly. I play the guitar so why bother. The flower beds need new plants, they’ll get messed up. I just plain don’t want to do it. In the end, I decided to go.

Go easy on yourself, others often say, but it’s not natural for me. As I considered why, I realized I have a hard time believing God would want to be kind to me. Doesn’t my sinful self get under His skin? I was sure He would rather give me a stern talkin’ to than offer mercy.

God is kind, beyond kind. He is gentle and full of mercy. He’s not like me, and these french tipped nails are a reminder. Each time I look at them I remember God’s love is poured out in His kindness every single moment of the day.

Grace is getting something we do not deserve.

Mercy is NOT getting something we do deserve.

How has God poured out grace to you?

Where do you see His mercy revealed?

Is there a moment or time when God is not kind, gentle or full of mercy?

Read Jeremiah 31:3

The NIV translation says: I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

The Hebrew translated as unfailing kindness is hesed. Other translations read: unfailing love, lovingkindness, or faithfulness. Hesed is a complex word with many layers. There is not a single English word which is equivalent.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament words defines it as “loving-kindness; steadfast love; grace; mercy; faithfulness; goodness; devotion.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says hesed is based on a relationship but also freely given. God’s covenant with His people moves Him to kindness because of His relationship with them. His devotion. His faithfulness.

Going back to Jeremiah 31:3, what does God’s hesed do?

God’s kindness literally draws us to Him… to His presence.

Consider those you find it hard to be kind to. Love is kind, it draws us to God. When we love others through kindness it opens the door for others to be drawn to God.

Who in your life needs to be closer to God? Ask God how you can love them through kindness and pray God would be revealed to them in your acts of loving kindness.

Lord, help us to remember Your gracious kindness to us. Let Your grace work on our hearts so we might be kind to others.

This week’s spiritual discipline:

Bob Goff writes these words in the foreword of his wife’s book:

None of us really fall in love. We just stop making everything about ourselves, and love floods into the space selfishness leaves behind when it leaves room.

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff

Loving God and others is never about self. Kindness is one way we can lavishly love others in our lives. So let’s embark on a week of acts of kindness, but not the random kind.

Ask God to reveal to you those who need an extra helping of kindness this week and how He wants to use you to love them. Send a card, cook a meal, listen without giving your advice or opinion. Use kind words.

Questions for your Summer Soak journal

What acts of kindness did you feel led to do this week?

How did the person respond? How did you feel about the response?

Was there a time this week when you were not kind to someone? Why?

Consider the ways God has been kind to you. Give thanks for His kindness.

If you did not attempt the spiritual discipline consider why you didn’t. Record your thoughts.

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