*Author’s Note: This is the second to last excerpt I will be sharing from something longer I have written. This is from chapter 2 of a book I began to write on a commentary of 1 Corinthians 13 about all the things that love does not do, the withholding aspects of love. I hope it helps you reflect on the kindess of love. As always, thanks for reading.

The second descriptor of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is “Love is kind.” By its strictest Greek definition this is perhaps the closest thing we typically think of when we consider love. Kindness is being full of service to others while maintaining gentleness. In other words, love is gently doing good for others.

It’s interesting to place this second instead of first, but position is important. It is easy to be kind to people you have great affection for. It is hard to be kind to people who try your patience, who you have very little affection for. Yet, for love to be love it must be of the same substance for lover and enemy. (notice I said substance not measure). Love qualitatively is different than love quantatively.

This dispositionally is also a lot harder to fake than patience. Patience requires mostly restraint while kind love requires movement and action, yet with a tenderness of restraint. It requires one to do something not hurriedly or out of frustration because they can do it more efficiently or better. It requires a helping hand and willingness to pick up after the gallon of milk tumbles onto the floor or after a glass is broken or coloring on the walls or out of the lines. Kindness is willing to compensate and cover over the mistakes even if it involves more work and whats more kind love somehow delights in being able to help.

In some ways this love feels impossible. And in all ways it is impossible without the merciful tender love of God the Father residing and experienced in the heart of His children. People who demonstrate this love are marked, separated by their kindness. Their gentleness is evident to all.

And more often than not, they are the ones people want to be around. They are the ones who you can watch in their labor and stand in awe at their treatment and ease of navigating the soul of another human being.

Why Kindness Exists

Kindness exists as a complement to justice which prevents us not only from receiving our judgment but also bestows on us gifts we often do not expect. It exists as evidence that God is indeed good. God is good because none of us reading this are dead and those of us reading who believe in Jesus live forever with God. It exists to change our mind. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman church writes “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant you to repentance?” Paul says kindness exists to turn us or change us, but he also warns us of becoming presumptuous of kindness. We cannot take kindness for granted or treat it as something that we are entitled to. When we do that we nullify its existence. The action may be kind, but when one presumes it or feels like they are owed it they have resisted the change they were meant to experience. Kindness received rightly changes things for the better.

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