Day 2, The Love Dare : Love is kind

Love Is Kind

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" Ephesians 4:32

Today’s dare is to do one unexpected gesture of kindness for someone.

Are the people I am usually the least kind to the very people I should show the most kindness?  The people I love.  The people who love me.  Why?

Am I more likely to speak harshly, or sarcastically, or sharply to the people I am closer to than others?  Why?

To truly be kind, I need to be aware of my basic selfishness and die to self, so that I can live for the good of others. This is really hard; I think we are by nature selfish. I think that I have a high degree of empathy for other people, but I still need to fight with myself to *do something* about it. Especially when that “something” involves some sort of sacrifice on my behalf.

An act of kindness.  That’s easy right?  Except that’s not what it says.  It says an unexpected act of kindness.  That means it needs to be something you don’t ordinarily do.  Or take the time to do.  Either way, effort would need to be made.  I do try to do thoughtful things or say thoughtful things, but I decided it would need to be something I don’t do to be effective. 

 Kindness is love in action. If patience is how love reacts in order to minimize a negative circumstance, kindness is how love acts to maximize a positive circumstance. Patience avoids a problem; kindness creates a blessing. One is preventive, the other proactive.

Love makes you kind. And kindness makes you likable  When you’re kind, people want to be around you. They see you as being good to them and good for them.

The Bible keys in on the importance of kindness: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:3–4). Kind people simply find favor wherever they go. Even at home. But “kindness” can feel a little generic when you try defining it, much less living it. So let’s break kindness down into four basic core ingredients:

Gentleness: When you’re operating from kindness, you’re careful how you treat others, never being unnecessarily harsh. You’re sensitive. Tender. Even if you need to say hard things, you’ll bend over backwards to make your rebuke or challenge as easy to hear as possible. You speak the truth in love.

Helpfulness:  Being kind means you meet the needs of the moment. If it’s housework, you get busy. A listening ear? You give it. Kindness graces us with the ability to serve one another without worrying about our rights. Kindness makes us curious to discover each other’s needs, then motivates us to be the one who steps up and ensures those needs are met—even if our needs are put on hold.

Willingness: Kindness inspires you to be agreeable. Instead of being obstinate, reluctant, or stubborn, you cooperate, you stay flexible. Rather than complaining and making excuses, you look for reasons to compromise and accommodate. We can end thousands of potential arguments by our willingness to listen first rather than demand our way.

Initiative: Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step. It doesn’t sit around waiting to be prompted or coerced before getting off the couch. A kind person will be the one who greets first, smiles first, serves first, and forgives first. They don’t require the other to get his or her act together before showing love. When acting from kindness, you see the need, then make your move. First.

Jesus creatively described the kindness of love in His parable of the Good Samaritan, found in the Bible—Luke, chapter 10. A Jewish man attacked by robbers is left for dead on a remote road. Two religious leaders, respected among their people, walk by without choosing to stop. Too busy. Too important. Too fond of clean hands. But a common man of another race—the hated Samaritans, whose dislike for the Jews was both bitter and mutual—sees this stranger in need and is moved with compassion. Crossing all cultural boundaries and risking ridicule, he stops to help the man. Bandaging his wounds and putting him on his own donkey, he carries him to safety and pays all his medical expenses out of his own pocket.

Where years of racism had caused strife and division, one act of kindness brought two enemies together. 

Gently. Helpfully. Willingly. Taking the initiative, this man demonstrated true kindness in every way.

It is difficult to demonstrate love when you feel little to no motivation. But love in its truest sense is not based on feelings. Rather, love determines to show thoughtful actions even when there seems to be no reward. You will never learn to love until you learn to demonstrate kindness.

OK.... clearly I have some work to do.  I've gone through life, believing I was mostly a kind person.  Kind enough...  

But is "kind enough" enough?  Would I want someone to treat me "kind enough?" If I'm being honest - no, probably not.  So why should I expect that to be good enough for another person?  Simple answer: I shouldn't.

  I cannot do this without the Holy Spirit changing my heart, and I am so grateful that He’s inspired me to continue to ask Him to do that.