This summer I visited a theme park with my family. The day before I had hurt my back stepping into a pool. It hurt to walk, sit, turn or even lay down. The pain was constantly on my mind, but I trudged on through the park that day. Close to the end, as we were on our way out of the park we came upon one of the old wooden roller coasters and my husband convinced me to go on “the big kid ride” since we had been doing kiddie rides all day. It was fast and furious. My husband put it best when he said, “I feel like I was just in a car accident”. Somehow during the ride though, I was shaken and thrown around enough that when I was done, my back felt better. Whatever was out of place got shaken back into its proper alignment and I was pain free.
My internal dialogue with God when I am in the eye of a stormy trial resembles a roller coaster ride. I move speedily from peaks of understanding and grace to deep stomach churning valleys of self-indulgence and self-pity. All the while being flipped and turned and shaken by the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s word. But by the end of the prayer, the pain is gone. And I am free to go forth in love with a pure heart.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
I have learned over time to stop myself in moments of frustration or affliction and say a silent prayer over 1 Corinthians 13:4. I tell you, it is very rare, that I ever make it past the first half of verse 4. “Love is patient and kind.”
For two reasons:
1. Patience and Kindness are the first things to go when we are not loving others as we are called to.
2. Patience and Kindness are the first fruits we see when we chose to love others as we are called to.
If patience is love doing nothing, then kindness is doing something intentionally with love. First we have to have no reaction, so as to pray and consider the correct, loving reaction we should have. If we are being patient we will not withhold love out of bitterness or resentment, but give kindness freely out of love. For, “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14) and “By this all people will know that [we] are [Jesus’] disciples, if [we] have love for one another” (John 13:35).
My prayer usually resembles something like this; “Lord, give me YOUR LOVE to be patient right now. I do not feel like being kind to this person who is hurting me. Give me the endurance to suffer and the wisdom to keep my mouth shut. Change my heart to view them through Your eyes and in light of your grace towards me. Lord, show me how I can show kindness in this situation and let me do it from a pure heart expecting nothing in return.”
Now, as beautiful as it may appear typed up like this, don’t get me wrong. It hurts to pray it and it can be ugly. This is a prayer you pray when you are bearing your cross and following your Savior. Most times it is poured out through tears on my knees on the floor of my laundry room, or as I am balling in my car driving down the road. I will tell you this though, when I pray this prayer, His love and peace and joy beyond all circumstances are magnified in my heart and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me( Philippians 4:13).
Now, you may have noticed, above in my prayer, the bold letters “YOUR LOVE“. When I am praying to love someone who is just downright unloveable, I can only do so with the love of God and by default, with his patience and kindness. So let’s take a look at some scriptures that show us the kindness of God.
Psalm 145:13,17 tells us that “The Lord is faithful in all his words, righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.” In Luke 6:35, as Jesus is commanding his disciples to “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” he states that “the Father is merciful” (v.36) and “he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil”. We are called to love as God loves, he gives us the example of mercy and loving kindness even to the ungrateful and evil. If we are faithful to obey, “our reward will be great and we will be Sons of the Most High”. (v.35)
As hard as it is to love those who are ungrateful, we must remember that that is how God shows his love to us.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:3-6)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
We cannot wait around for others to act in a way we deem to be deserving of our love and kindness. We are called to be merciful as our Father is merciful. In doing so, we are showing others the love and grace of God and the gospel.
Now, sometimes it is not only enemies, but those who are closest to us that we are struggling to be patient with and kind to. In marriage and parenting we get many opportunities to bear this fruit and many times we fall short. Our sin nature rears its ugly head. I have compared myself way too much with the Proverbs 31 wife and seen my own shortcomings, but still I look to this scripture as a goal to attain. I want to be the wife who “opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (v. 26) In Titus 2:3-5, Older women are called to “teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled”. (Titus 2:3-5). As we grow as Christians and disciples of the Lord, we bear much fruit. Lord, please make my heart so familiar with your mercy and kindness that I am teaching it to my spouse, children, friends, and even strangers by example.
My prayer is that we will “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Is there someone specific in your life that you struggle to be kind to?
- When you consider the kindness God has shown you, how can you look past your reasons and show them kindness even when they are ungrateful?
- Is there someone in your life that you can encourage in their struggles to love someone with patience and kindness?
- Are you finding ways in your day to show kindness to your family and strangers, expecting nothing in return?