Are We Loving Or Kind?

Are We Loving Or Kind? July 7, 2014

     What is love?  The ancient Greeks hadit easier; they had at least seven different words for love.  We combinemultiple meanings in the one word “love.”  Is love wanting another not tosuffer, to be happy, or to have the best?

   One modern approach is to assume that love means never telling a friendthat he’s wrong.  That insipid suggestion is behind the retort, “a friendisn’t someone who calls the ambulance after you walk off a cliff.  He’sthe one who tries to keep you from walking off the cliff.”

   How does the Bible use the word love?  It uses it more stronglythan we often do.  We face the danger of thinking that love can be anattitude without action.  If we desire the best for others but take nosteps toward that, it’s fair to question whether or not we really are loving.

   God is love and his love is very active, “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish buthave eternal life” (John 3:16).

   What is kindness?   Kindness is not wanting another to suffer. But kindness can’t stand apart from love or it becomes corrupted. C.S. Lewis argues in The Problem of Pain:  “Are we not in anincreasingly cruel age? . . . I think we have become so in the attempt toreduce all virtues to kindness.”  He goes on to argue that it’s easy toassume that we are kind when in reality our neighbors may just not have gottenin our way yet.  Further, he points out that kindness uncontrolled by lovecan lead to a kind of contempt or indifference to the recipient. 

   What does kindness together with love look like?  With hischildren, “God is easily pleased, but not easily satisfied.”  Yet God alsocalls his children to suffer which kindness alone would never do.

   From 1 Corinthians 13 we learn that spiritual gifts, incrediblegenerosity and faith itself are worthless without love.  We are told loveis patient and kind.  We’re told love isn’t envying, boastful, arrogant,rude, resentful, or temporary.  It is easy to claim we love, but if we areunkind we prove we are not.

   It’s very easy to persuade ourselves that we have a quality that we maynot have.  By calling us to both love and kindness God gives us a mirrorto see how we really are.  We are called to something infinitely morevaluable than the modern uni-virtue of toleration.  We are called to loveand kindness.