Resolved: To Love... Kindly
"Love is… Kind"
~1 Corinthians 13:4
Why am I still on this love thing?
This is my third post about love, and you may be wondering why I’m stuck on this subject. The answer is that I just can’t shake what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:31. In that verse Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to desire “higher gifts.” He teaches that God has given specific gifts to the church in order to accomplish His purposes, but he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell them that there is something “more excellent” than these extraordinary gifts. There is an even more excellent way to serve God and impact others. What is that “more excellent” way? Love. After introducing the “more excellent way” at the end of chapter twelve, Paul devotes all of chapter thirteen to explaining and describing love and its benefits.
I have always known that love is an important Christian virtue, but it is hard to think of it as the primary way to have an impact for God. It seems too simple, but if Paul is right (and I don’t plan on questioning his inspired work), I need to learn more about the love that he is describing. I need to understand God’s kind of love so that I can live for Him in the fullest way possible.
What’s His Problem?
Have you ever known someone who seemed to always have chip on their shoulder? I think of a kid I knew in middle school. He was an angry fellow. Everyone knew who he was and everyone knew to watch out for him. He was the guy that you didn’t want to bump into in the hallway. You didn’t poke fun at Him, contradict him or cut in front of him at lunch. He was the kind of guy that you didn’t want to get riled up. If you got on his bad side he had two standard responses: (a) threaten to pound your face or (b) pound your face. Neither of these were good options. The reality is that response (a) was generally just a segue into response (b). Most of us know someone who lives with a chip on their shoulder.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4 Paul describes love as patient or long-suffering (see my last post). Next he describes love as kind. “Kind love” is the opposite of having a chip on your shoulder. People who have a chip on their shoulder, like my classmate, are quick to get angry and fight. It doesn’t take much to provoke them. The lovingly kind person is also easily provoked, but in a much different way. A lovingly kind person is easily provoked to serve and build up those around them. And just like you can remember the person with the chip on their shoulder, chances are that you can remember a person who loves kindly. This of person makes an impact. People will avoid the person with a quick temper, but they will be drawn to a person who loves with kindness.
Love at Work
While patient love can be described as a passive love, kind love is an active love. This is the type of love that does something. Some have said that kindness is love in working clothes. Movies and TV shows often portray love as a feeling, but Paul is telling us that love is an action.
To be kind is to be ready to help. Kindness seeks to do good, to relieve burdens and to be useful. A kind person works to be tender, genuinely sympathetic, and to help those in need. The key is readiness. We ought to be looking for opportunities rather than waiting for them to fall into our laps. Many people are willing to serve when they are called upon, but the person who desires to make an impact for Christ creates opportunities to show loving kindness.
The ultimate example of loving kindness is God. He lovingly took on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ so that He could meet our greatest need. We were lost in sin and He provided a way back to Himself. In Ephesians 5:2 we are told to walk in love as Christ did. This is a high standard, so where do we start? How do we imitate the loving kindness of Christ?
Loving Kindly as Christ
What is your focus when you interact with other people? Do you tend to gravitate towards people who will . . .
- Make you laugh?
- Listen to your stories?
- Let you vent?
- Give you good advice?
- Help you with __________?
While these are not necessarily bad things, we need to think about where our focus is. Are we more aware of our own needs and interests or in the needs and interests of others? If we are only thinking about how others can benefit us then it will be difficult to love them kindly. A person who is lovingly kind will be thinking about how they can help others. A lovingly kind person is more likely to think:
- I need to ask Bob how his mother is doing in her sickness.
- I wonder if my wife and I can help Bob by watching his kids for an evening.
- I need to ask Bob if he enjoyed the trip to Kansas City that he was so excited about.
- I need to find out if there is anything that I can help Bob with this weekend.
There are endless of examples of how kind love chooses to think and act. Kind love is focused on the needs and desires of others. It seeks to give and serve. This is what Paul meant when he said “love is kind.”
There are countless ways that we can actively show kind love. Here are a few ideas to you get you thinking:
- Spend time with someone else and do something that they enjoy.
- Help someone with their house work (clear brush, paint, etc).
- Write a note to a friend and tell them what their friendship means to you.
- Work hard to remember what is important to others and bring it up in conversations.
- Mow a friend’s yard when they have had a busy week.
- Send a care package to a college student or a soldier.
- Volunteer your time to a needy cause.
- Visit people from your church who are in the hospital, even if you don’t know them well.
- Call a friend and ask them how you can pray for them. Be sure to follow up with them and continue to show genuine interest and concern about their situation.
These are just some general ideas to get you started. The best way to love kindly is by getting to know people and learning how you can serve them. Paul set the standard in Philippians when he said “let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If you do this you will represent Christ well and impact people for Him. Remember, the goal of love is not to win friends or influence people. The goal is to have a greater impact for Christ.
Resolved: To Love… Kindly
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