by Ray Hawkins
Kindness is the unexpected response to another person’s unpleasant behaviour or insinuation. The usual response is to become either defensive or aggressive.
For people who had tasted God’s gifts, the Corinthians had not learned to live above their carnal nature. Calloused hearts were being fashioned by their in fighting, slander, factions and denigrating another’s gifting. No one likes to be on the end of negative, offensive, hurtful words and actions. A natural response is to smoulder in resentment and await an opportunity for ‘pay-back.’ Another is to be an erupting volcano spewing out the lava of spite. Both these responses are contrary to what’s pleasing in God’s sight.
What Paul urges about kindness is soulishly impossible!
Why be kind to such horrid people? Why not give them as good as they gave?
Because God was kind to us!
We don’t need to like them.
We can disapprove of their manner and methods but we must Love them. That goes against the grain of the soul. The most excellent way of impossible Love, however, calls us to walk in a different direction to earthly standards and expectations. That is the spiritual realm of God’s standard. It’s not easy. It’s often misunderstood. Some exploit it.
The apostle, confronts his readers with their central problem.
They are Loveless and forgetful!
The moment we forget the kindness of God in touching our lives with a new beginning and destiny, we enter the same territory. That’s where hardness of heart forms.
Is it possible to be kind without condoning or condemning?Yes! It’s difficult. It demands an act of the will. The will must be placed under the mastery of the Lord Jesus, subservient to His word. Too often we try and be kind from an emotional base. The heat of the situation or the suspicions of others soon evaporates the emotion and we return to our soulish, self preserving ways and often unpleasant attitudes.
Kindness towards those who make our lives fluctuate between apathy and agony is the unsung miracle of the Holy Spirit. At first, as we co-operate with Him, we find being kind is an inner wrestle. Then, as we seek to honour the Lord Jesus in touching the lives of others with this impossible Love, it becomes easier because it becomes a supernaturally natural, godly response.
For Love to be kind to the unkind it must draw deeply from the life and teaching of Jesus. He was no Saccharine sweet, put up with anything person. On occasions He had to be firm, to call people to account but Jesus seems to have done it with tough tenderness. The greatest incentive remains however, His continuing kindness towards His disciples, us, who numerous times are spiritually thick and wayward. It’s gratitude for Jesus’ kindness that gives a polish to our desire to express Love to others in a similar condition.
That’s the most excellent way.