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1 Corinthians 13 Part 5: Love is Kind
1 Corinthians 13:4b, Matthew 5:39-45 To have loving kindness is to be useful, benevolent and gracious.
“…love is kind,”
1 Corinthians 13:4b NASB1995
Kindness is, indeed, a superpower, as it is described in this photo that I chose. In doing research for this devotional, I stumbled across a great quote about kindness from Mark Twain, which demonstrates its marvelous abilities:
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
It is an attribute that is universally admired when it is encountered and, in this dog-eat-dog crazy world, it is to be treasured where it is found. I know that I lack kindness in some circumstances, but I can fake it pretty good when a particular situation allows. I tend to be gregarious in social situations and love to start conversations with people (other travelers, folks sitting nearby at a restaurant, people standing in a line, etc.). But I often confuse wanting to be friendly with actual kindness. When people don’t respond in ways that I would expect, I often treat them in an unkind manner rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt and blessing them.
Let’s take a look at Biblical definitions again. The Greek word used for “kind” in this case in 1 Corinthians 13 is chresteoumai, according to the Blue Letter Bible. This is the only usage of this particular verb version of this word in the Bible! There are similar derivations of the root word used for kindness in other texts. The Strong’s definition is as follows:
To show oneself useful, i.e. act benevolently:—be kind.
This is expanded in Precept Austin:
It is an attitude of being willing to help or assist rendering gracious, well-disposed service to others. It is active goodwill. It not only feels generous, it is generous. Such a person not only has the attitude of generosity but manifests it in their actions. He or she not only desires others’ welfare, but works for it. In the second century the example of Christian love was so stunning to the pagans that they referred to Christians not as "christiani" but "chrestinai", those made up of mildness or kindness. Would it be that such a name would be given to Christians in our day.
Have you ever dealt with a person at a help desk or in a position of service who not only did their basic job effectively, but also went out of their way to add to the experience by providing you with even more than you expected, without being asked? These encounters are worth their weight in gold and are more and more rare in this day and age, when so many people just want to make you go away and you see that attitude right off the bat. It is perhaps ironic that unselfish kindness is manifested more in the world of service animals these days, like the Comfort Dogs charity that we enthusiastically support through donations (one of those animals is shown in the photo comforting a child). These wonderful dogs (all purebred Golden Retrievers) bring peace and kindness to people suffering after a traumatic event, like a mass shooting or a devastating weather event. Their kindness and gentleness is innate, a gift from God in His beautiful creation. If these dogs can be so giving, how much more so can we as human believers give kindness?
Jesus wanted us, as believers, to be kind to everyone, not just our families and friends and co-workers and acquaintances. He tells us to go the extra mile for our enemies, as noted in Matthew 5, in the Sermon on the Mount:
“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5:39-45 NASB1995
Kindness is love. Love is not quick to resent evil but is disposed to do good. As the Precept Austin site notes, kindness is Christianity with its working clothes on. Where can you exhibit kindness today? Perhaps start with your family and friends and fellow churchgoers, then quietly serve others by being generous and gracious, going the extra mile or even “paying it forward”. Never be kind expecting something in return; the kindness itself is a sufficient reward and, in fact, doing kind acts secretly fits in with the precepts from Jesus about praying in secret and giving in secret. David Guzik from his Enduring Word commentary has an interesting way to measure the effectiveness of your kindness:
Love is kind: When we have and show God’s love, it will be seen in simple acts of kindness. A wonderful measure of kindness is to see how children receive us. Children won’t receive from or respond to unkind people.
My next devotional examines 1 Corinthians 13:4c Love is not Jealous.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father - May I be full of loving kindness to others, demonstrating that my love comes from your perfect grace, putting others first and serving in the best way that I can. Thank you for your abiding and eternal love for me. Amen
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org”
Commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.