Kind is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as being ’of a gentle or benevolent nature, showing friendliness and affection’. It is a beautiful quality, and not one that is easy to define or quantify, but it is one that we know and recognise when it is extended to us.
Kindness can often be the thing that ‘undoes’ you when you are hurting or struggling to hold yourself together. It is something we have seen much of during this pandemic, and to be on the receiving end of kindness implies that we are in receipt of something that we have neither earnt or paid for, and something that we do not have a right to. It could be something simple like a neighbour delivering our shopping, or someone who has been paid to serve us going over and beyond the call of duty, like a nurse staying beyond their hours to ensure our safety and comfort.
Kindness is something that we can all give and receive, but it is not something that one necessarily associates with power and might, or with someone who is infinitely superior in every way. Relationships with a power imbalance are often unhealthy for the one with the least power. Quite often when men have power and/or superiority it seems to leads to unkindness, to bullying and forcing people to do what they don’t want to do.
When we receive ‘kindness’ on the other hand, it shows us that the giver of that kindness has an understanding of us and our situation. How wonderful then that our all powerful, omnipotent God reveals Himself as ‘compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth.’ Exodus 34:6 NASB. And this is how God shows Himself in the Old Testament, way before Jesus came and demonstrated for us, in human form, what God’s kindness looks like.
I love it that quite often the translators of the bible put kindness and love together to describe this characteristic of God. And there is such extravagant language here – our God is ‘abounding’ in this wonderful quality, no shortage here! We have the most amazing God. He is omniscient and omnipotent; all knowing and all powerful, and yet He is wonderfully kind.
Kindness is one of the hallmarks of God in His dealings with us. It is an essential part of His nature. We know this because it is listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit, although it may be one we pass over sometimes in favour of love, joy and peace!! Galatians 5:22. Paul describes God’s desire that His kindness, and not His power and might, will actually bring people to repentance and into His family.Romans 2:4.NIV.There is no coercion here only love and grace and kindness to draw us.
David and Jonathan knew all about this quality of God’s, this kindness. We read that, before he died, Jonathan asked David to show him the loving kindness of the Lord by extending that same kindness to anyone left in his family after he and Saul had gone. 1 Samuel 20:14. This David did by asking ‘Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness’ 2 Samuel 9:3. It was not something Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was expecting, David had all the power, Mephibosheth none.
David well understood God’s kindness and many of His psalms are thanking and blessing God for that ‘loving kindness’. He seemed to have such a grasp of this aspect of God, and he revelled in it in his praise and thanks to God. As we said yesterday, David was ‘a man after God’s own heart’, Acts 13:22, and I believe the Lord wants us to be like David, learning to ‘see’ and revel in His overwhelming kindnesses to us.
I think that our thanksgiving to God, for all His kindnesses to us, will do just that. Expressing our gratitude to Him will heighten our awareness of His kindness towards us. So today let us join David in the praise he wrote down for us, reminding ourselves of what a beautiful thing it is, to have a God who combines power and glory with kindness!
‘I have looked upon you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory. Because your loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you, so I will bless you while I live: I will lift up my hands in your name…..You have been my help and in the shadow of your wings will I rejoice’. Psalm 63:3.