God’s Word teaches us that kindness is one of the characteristics of the love of God. I Corinthians 13:4 says, “Charity [the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation] suffereth long, and is kind….” The love of God is kind, and as God’s children we can manifest His love to others by deciding to be kind.
What is it to be kind? The phrase “is kind” in I Corinthians 13:4 is the Greek word chrēsteuomai, from the root word chrēstos, which E. W. Bullinger’s Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament defines as “good, gentle, benevolent…actively beneficent in spite of ingratitude.” Both “benevolent” and “beneficent” describe someone who does good. To be kind is to do good unto others, even if they don’t show appreciation for our gestures.
When Jesus Christ taught his disciples how to love with the love of God, he gave them the example of the kindness of God.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
For if ye love [agapaō] them which love [agapaō] you, what thank [recompense, reward] have ye? for sinners also love [agapaō] those that love [agapaō] them.
But love [agapaō] ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind [chrēstos] unto the unthankful and to the evil.
God is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. This is the love of God. We see this expressed in Ephesians 2.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love [agapē] wherewith he loved [agapaō] us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness [chrēstotēs] toward us through Christ Jesus.
For by grace are ye saved through faith [the faith of Jesus Christ]; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
We are recipients of God’s amazing love, for we have experienced His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. He loved us even when we were dead in sins.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
But after that the kindness [chrēstotēs] and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost [the gift of holy spirit];
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
God saved us according to His mercy—not because we deserved it. God’s love and kindness are not dependent on the goodness or gratitude of others. Extending the kindness of God to another person, especially when they are unthankful or evil, is a powerful way to positively affect someone’s life.
Jesus Christ showed kindness in this way when he extended the sop to Judas on the same night he knew Judas would betray him. He told his disciples that one of them would betray him, and one of his disciples asked “who it should be of whom he spake.”
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
The book Jesus Christ Our Passover helps us understand the significance of this gesture with this explanation:
A sop, such as the one Jesus gave to Judas, was normally a piece of flat, round, pliable bread like an Indian chapatti, wrapped around a morsel of food. This would then be dipped by the host into the common dish and given to the guest to whom he wanted to show his greatest love and esteem. In placing the sop to his guest’s mouth for him to eat, the host would demonstrate to all present the love and honor he had for that guest.
Jesus treated this man, who he knew was about to betray him, as a highly honored guest. He understood that it’s the goodness (chrēstos) of God that leads a person to repentance (Romans 2:4). With deep kindness, he showed Judas how much he cared for him, giving him another opportunity to change his plans of betrayal. And even though Judas went on to betray him, Jesus didn’t stop loving him. Later he extended to Judas the blessing of being back in his company with the other disciples on the day of the ascension. Instead of treating him “in kind,” Jesus treated him with kindness—because God’s love is kind….
This is an excerpt from the May/June 2016 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2016 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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