Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant,
is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CSB, emphasis added by me not Jesus 🙂 )
It should never be a surprise when lost people behave like lost people, but it is shocking to my core when those who profess Christ act like lost people. Is it wrong to expect more?
Salvation doesn’t guarantee sinlessness, so it’s not that I expect perfection from believers. But it breaks my heart to hear the vitriol spewing from opposite viewpoints of the hot-button issues of our day. Blistering lava destroys what it touches.
Pick any comment thread of your favorite news outlet or open a tab for Facebook or Twitter. Why would anyone value what you have to say if it’s mean or rude? Why would I listen to anyone who pummeled me with contempt while trying to make their point? It was disconcerting to me when Tsh Oxenreider, a good friend and trusted colleague, posted a thoughtful and reasonable essay, Child-Parent Separation at the Border and What You Can Do, only to be hammered on Facebook. Those who didn’t agree with her thoughts were angry and loud; when I skimmed comments, no one who disagreed seemed kind.
Recently I was startled by the effect of wearing my Kindness is Golden tee shirt: strangers talked to me. No lie, half a dozen people initiated a conversation with me about what it says, telling me why they agreed with the sentiment, why we need more kindness, or even about similar tee shirts they own. It was weird. Now, granted, I was in a place where I encountered more people than usual (an airport and then hotel lobby with lots of folks taking advantage of a free continental breakfast), but it was interesting to me so many different people (diverse men and women) approached me.
Who knew my tee shirt was an invitation to conversation? I suppose it’s because it demonstrates something important:
Kindness is powerful because kindness is an incarnation of love.
When you lead with love, I will listen to you. You have instant credibility with me. When you lead with love, as manifested in kindness, it tells me that you value me, you care about others, you’re listening as well as speaking, and what you have to say warrants my listening…even if I don’t agree. When you are hostile, antagonistic, or condescending, the effect is la-la-la (fingers in ears) I-can’t-hear-you. I don’t even mean to do that; it’s a by-product of being disrespected.
In John 13:34-35 (CSB), Jesus could not be clearer:
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Loved people love people. Could it be that many of us are simply forgetting how dearly we’re loved?
Galatians 5 has a compelling passage describing the difference between walking by the Spirit or walking in the flesh–
By the Spirit:
- desires what is against the flesh
- you are not under the law
- you’ll bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (verses 22-23)
By the flesh:
- desires what is against the Spirit
- plagued by sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar (verses 19-21a)
It sends me to my knees….
Dear God, help me remember love is kind.
Slay my fleshly ways that I might walk by the Spirit and bear fruit.
Bring conviction without condemnation to Your people
leading us to love first that the Church will be known by its love,
by Your grace,
for our good, Your glory, and the advance of the Gospel,
These things I beg.
I affiliate-linked to my tee shirt since folks wondered where I got it…and when I saw the necklace above, I HAD to include it :).