We hope you have some sisters to soak in the Word with you this summer. It’s Tuesday, and it’s time to share some of the insights we soaked up about kindness.
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)
This week’s memory verse told us what God says is good and what He requires of us: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him. And the call to love kindness catches my attention.
What does it mean to love kindness?
Love means “to have a strong affection for” (Merriam-Webster’s). So, loving kindness must mean we should desire to do it, offer it to others openhandedly because it is good.
Micah told us God says to love kindness. But Jesus told us what kindness looks like.
Read Luke 10:25-37
Jesus told this parable to answer a question regarding the means to eternal life. The lawyer asking quoted the law, saying eternal life was achieved by loving God and loving our neighbor. The lawyer wanting to be clear about the law, asked, “Who is my neighbor?” This is when Jesus answered with the story of the man robbed and beaten on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.
Of the three — priest, Levite, Samaritan — only the Samaritan showed kindness to the wounded traveler they came across on the road. Looking at who these three are, I see a pattern emerge.
Jesus’s parable took place on a road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Jerusalem being the religious capital of Judaism, I assume both the priest and the Levite were headed there. Both may have chosen to avoid the man because they were intent on fulfilling their service at the temple. Had they touched the bloodied beaten man they would have been unclean and disqualified from their opportunity to serve.
The Samaritan, on the other hand, was probably headed away from Jerusalem, since Samaritans and Jews (for the most part) avoided one another. The Samaritan was on a journey when he saw the wounded man. He was moved by compassion and began to pour out kindness on him. Going out of his way, he tended to the man, made sure he had shelter and additional resources before leaving him in the care of an inn keeper.
What I see, is the two people wrapped up in religion missed the heart of the law to love God by loving others. They missed an opportunity to truly serve, because they wanted to look good at church, rather than be good.
However, the Samaritan was journeying through life. And on his journey, he saw the man. Saw the need. Was moved by compassion to offer kindness.
It doesn’t take a religious expert to see what the good thing was to do in this fictional situation. The lawyer asking Jesus the question even got it right: The one who showed him mercy — he was the neighborly one. Mercy, kindness, this is the good thing to do. The loving thing to do.
We all have the potential to get caught up in legalism, the letter of the law, and forget what the heart of the law is all about. God is love, therefore ALL His law, at its heart, will be centered on loving Him and loving our neighbors.
Loving people is not religious, and loving religion is antithetical (counter to) loving people.
At least that’s what I noticed. And if you look at those around you who are very legalistic, are they kind to their neighbors? Do they overflow with grace?
Kindness is not religious, it’s love.
When the idea for this week’s spiritual discipline came to me I didn’t have any preconceived notions. I simply wanted us to put kindness into action, and consider acts of kindness as more than random but a demonstration of our intentional love for others.
I prayed about it early in the week, Lord who would you have me be kind to and what do you want me to do? I waited each day for some idea to pop into my mind. As I passed the middle man-child’s room, I felt nudged to pick up dirty laundry and return things to their rightful place. When my husband needed a listening ear, I sat and listened. Throughout the week I felt the Spirit lead me to do small acts for those who are closest to me.
It’s been days since I asked the Lord to give me an idea for kindness. I was a little concerned I hadn’t received my assignment yet. And then the Spirit whispers, Each small act you’ve done this week was your spiritual discipline. Well… duh! How did I miss it? Why is it so much harder to be kind to the ones closest to you? What in the world makes it easier to do some random act of kindness for a stranger?
I get it. We are called to love God and love others, even strangers. I’m not against random acts of kindness, I’m just not sure this is what Paul meant when he wrote, love is kind. There’s nothing random or happenstance about love. Love is intentional, a choice, a command.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
And if we are commanded to love, and love is kind, then we are commanded to be kind. Especially to the ones we love the most. The son who pushes my buttons and leaves a trail of dirty wherever he goes. Kind to the husband who seems a bit snappy. Kind to the one who needs a listening ear, or a smile, or to know they are not alone.
I read the question, How did the one you were kind to respond? How did their response make you feel? I can’t help but laugh out loud. Because they didn’t even notice and I didn’t notice they didn’t notice. In fact, it never crossed my mind until I read the question again.
This is the best kind of love. A love that pours out patience and kindness in seemingly small ways without a thought of the other’s response.
How does it feel?
It feels… free.
You’re welcome to join our conversation by sharing your insights in the comment box below this post. We look forward to hearing from you.