“Nothing screws up your Friday like realizing it’s Wednesday.”
Ain’t that the truth? Forgive me but I must brag because I’m on vacation! I flew to be with my mom and dad for the next week and I’m currently surrounded by two 4-year-olds vying for all of my attention. Jon is practicing his writing skills while Piper is poking at him with a plastic sword. Meanwhile, I’m having a hard time focusing. We’re a productive bunch. 🙂
Last week we started looking at what the Bible says real love is. I Corinthians 13 aptly lays out what love should be and it packs an incredible punch. The very first characteristic of love was patience. Personally, I’m not a very patient person. I find it to be difficult to practice but God is always faithful in reminding my heart what it means to live patiently. If we’re all honest with ourselves, I believe that we could agree that patience is a difficult character trait. Check out that post here. This week doesn’t get any easier but it’s definitely going to be worth it.
“Love is patient. Love is kind.” I Corinthians 13:4a
You may be tempted to think that this is an easy one, as I was. The reason we believe this is because we are all under the impression that kindness and niceness are the same entity. At least I did as I was researching what it meant to be kind. This is what I found:
The definition of “nice” is as such: “pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.” The word is typically used to describe someone. “Nice” is an adjective. There are a lot of nice people in this world but many believe that overly nice people are often caught in a desire to be pleasers. They are looking to gain favor so they bend, stretch, and pull at anything they can to gain their way. To put it plainly, being nice is something you do.
Being kind, however, is something you are. The reality of this is found within the definition of “kind.” It simply means, “having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.” Now, take a look at the definition for nice and then look back at kind’s. Do it one more time.
Do you see the difference? It’s very easy for someone to be nice. You could be nice to anyone who walks down the street but does that mean you are kind?
I believe that the Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 13, was presenting a version of love that was contrary to the culture of their day. In fact, I believe that he was presenting an idea of love that strains against the grain of all human tendency. It goes far beyond what we as a culture of people do and stretches to who we as a culture are. Paul is digging below the surface level of life. Being nice is surface level but being kind is getting to the heart of a man.
Christian believers in that day were facing incredible persecution from outside forces. There were many who hated the idea of God, Christians, and the Gospel that they preached. With this hatred, they set out to kill and destroy anything that had to do with this God and His followers.
As you can imagine, these believers were incredibly distraught with their current circumstances and were tempted to despair, fight back, or defend themselves. Instead of encouraging them to retaliate, Paul basically calls them to turn the other cheek.
When others wrong you, be patient. When others do something that hurts you, be kind. You see, Paul didn’t encourage them by saying “Just be nice but it’s ok if you secretly hate them behind their backs.” He called them to exude a kind of love that only God can give. He called them to continue loving these persecutors through kindness. He called them to turn back to the Lord for their strength.
Knowing all of this, are you kind? Do you live and breath kindness as the Bible defines it? Or are you simply a nice person? When someone hurts you, do you show them the kindness that Jesus shows us? Jesus calls you to be more because He was more. Jesus defined it and lived it first. It may be tempting to believe that this kind of lifestyle is impossible and I will agree with you. In your own strength, it’s impossible. A love like this can only be manufactured by God himself. However, you have to have a willing heart.
This world needs more kind people. There are far too many nice individuals doing nice things for people but looking out for their own gain. If you want an example of this turn on Fox or CNN. Politicians are the epitome of “nice” people. If you’re anything like me, I want no part of resembling a politic. I’d rather be like Jesus. How about you?
Here are 3 quick takeaways for today:
1.) Being nice is an action, kindness is a lifestyle.
2.) Jesus calls you, as a Christian, to be kind even if you don’t feel like it.
3.) You can’t do it on your own. Seek the Lord and His help.
I hope that this was challenging for you as it was for me! Let me know what some of your thoughts are down below. Have a great day! Jesus loves you!