Devotion #17

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV

We’ve spent the last several days looking at a list of don’ts in verse 31. The next verse speaks of what we should be doing in our marriage. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Our culture has recently taken over those first two words – be kind. While I enjoy seeing this recent movement, it’s important to explore the biblical meaning of being kind in our marriages to truly understand what God is calling us to do. 

Kindness is a tender heart and a nurturing spirit, it is a gentle attitude toward others filled with grace and mercy. When we are kind, we go out of our way to put another’s needs before our own. We have no consideration for our sacrifice in our act of kindness—in other words, it’s not kind when we point out our kind act or mention our sacrifice to others. When we make a big deal of our kind acts, we are still focused on ourselves. Kindness is a consideration only for the other person. It’s deeper than just being nice to each other; to truly be kind to our spouses means we take the time to think of their needs before our own. 

We all have people in our lives who are easy to be kind to—these are the gentle souls that make us feel so good about doing kind works because they respond with praise and encouragement. It’s important to note that this exhortation is not meant for those people. God doesn’t need to remind us to be kind to people who are easy to love. This exhortation is for people who are difficult to love. It’s challenging to be kind to someone who is prickly or grumpy, and God knows that—this is the very reason He reminds us to be kind and tender hearted. 

Your spouse may be one of those prickly people, which may mean this verse was written especially for you. It can be so difficult to choose kindness day after day when your spouse chooses to unleash the frustrations of their day onto you. It’s critical to stay near to God in these moments, as the response He’s looking for can only come from Him. 

When the Spirit fills us, our hearts become soft toward those around us, and our desire is to bring them goodness increases. Kindness expressed in action is goodness.  Kindness is the burning desire to share with others all that He has done for us, and goodness is following through on that desire. We must daily seek His filling of our hearts if we are to put down what we want and pick up what He wants.

What is the kindest thing you can do for your spouse today? What would they consider to be kind? Take some time to think about the needs of your spouse, then go out of your way to take care of it for them. Perhaps it’s just listening to them, perhaps it’s doing the dishes. Maybe it’s giving them a back rub, or maybe it’s offering to go with them or for them. But here’s the kicker—you don’t get to do it for the recognition. In other words, if they don’t acknowledge or receive your act of kindness with gratitude, you still follow through. If the reason behind your act of kindness is a genuine desire to please your God, His Spirit should fill your heart with good. Your motivation should never be for the recognition from your spouse. If your motive is pure, and you choose kindness day after day, God will bless your marriage in ways that will surprise you.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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