“I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.” [Isaiah 63:7]
Have you ever been asked how to define something that you’ve experienced but you don’t know how? Well, I feel that way about kindness. I know I’ve experienced kindness many times in my life, but when I sat down to write this, I realized that I had no running definition of what kindness is. Is it a feeling or emotion? Is it something you say or something you do? Perhaps it’s just a synonym for nice??
What I discovered is that kindness is a very distinct posture in which we are called to live our lives. I searched through the scriptures to try and find every instance of the word kindness, and I quickly began to see that kindness is an active, dynamic force that flows out of an open heart that’s been filled with the holy love of God. Phrases like “exercises kindness”, “showed us a kindness”, and “doing a kindness” exist all throughout scripture. So we know that kindness is anything but passive, but how do we experience this with God?
In Isaiah 63:7, Isaiah is writing to stir up this remembrance of all of the good things God has done for Israel. All of the kindnesses. That means that when we reflect upon the good things God has done for us in our lives, we are experiencing His kindness towards us. And how do we know this? Because throughout scripture you can see that God is motivated to act on behalf of His people for one reason, and that’s because He loves us and cares for us. God’s kindness is rooted in love and genuine concern for His people. God doesn’t just sit around saying He loves us, He moves Heaven and Earth to show us He loves us. It’s His benevolent heart put into action!
Look at Romans 2:4. Paul unifies two things here that seem to be naturally opposed to each other. Kindness + Repentance. When I think of kindness I often think of the generosity of a close friend. When I (used to) think of repentance I envisioned an angry old, white man pounding his Bible telling me to repent or go to Hell. But Paul says this in 2:4: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” It’s this love in action that we call kindness that moves us in such a way that we will do anything to keep letting Him love us. When we sin, we are turning away from God. And when we are turned away from God, we are not letting Him love us fully. But it’s in those moments where we can recall upon all of the times where we’ve experienced God’s benevolent nature and repent (turn to God again) to receive His loving care.
The crazy thing is that when this happens, this whole remembering God’s kindness and turning to receive fully His love again thing, you become activated with this contagious energy that compels you to be kind to others. It’s like you cannot help yourself! And the even better thing is that people remember kindness. It makes them want to be kind also. That’s how your life and the lives around you begin to bear the fruit of kindness. It all starts with receiving God’s loving care for your soul.
God, I thank you that You are a kind God. That You are a God who loves us fully and without holding back. I just ask that You will continue to open my heart to receive your kindness. And I ask that as I understand Your kindness more and more and that in turn, I will be able to give away kindness to those around me. I love You, God! Amen.