Devotion #32

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

In addition to compassion, we are to put on kindness. In our marriages, kindness is more than just being pleasant or nice; it’s an intentional helpful attitude toward our spouses without any benefit to ourselves. 

There’s been a recent movement toward kindness in our culture. “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” This new slogan seems to be in response to the increasing self-preserving harshness that is inherent in human nature. Be kind. I love the awareness it’s bringing to the importance of our big and our small acts of kindness out in the world. We do need to find ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, we do need to be looking for ways to represent His lovingkindness to the world, but we need to start this movement at home. Far too often, we busy ourselves looking for ways to be kind to strangers, but we fail to show biblical kindness to those living in our homes.

Biblical kindness is sacrificially giving of ourselves to help a person in need. Sacrificially means we are called to be kind even when it’s difficult. God doesn’t need to tell us to be kind when its easy—many of us are already pretty good at being kind to the stranger on the street or to that person who’s easy to love. No, this command asks us to be kind in those challenging places—to the difficult people, in the difficult circumstances. It’s giving our time and our resources to that difficult person without any expectation of return. 

This isn’t something that is inherent in us as humans—we help, but typically only when it benefits us, when we can use it to our advantage, and generally not when it’s a sacrifice or an inconvenience to ourselves. Often, the greatest benefit to us is how other people view us. In other words, we help because we want people to notice how kind we are, so we do it when others are watching or we tell people about what we’re doing so they will admire us. Sometimes when we help, we get caught in the trap of expected return. We tend to use our kindness in some way to force someone’s behavior—how many of us have uttered the words, “after all I do for you…”? Rarely do we help when it’s difficult or challenging. If you are carrying a great burden yourself, or if you are in the midst of a difficult trial, if you are tired or exhausted from a long day or you aren’t feeling up to it, you will generally decline the offer to help. 

In marriage, being kind isn’t just saying yes to your spouse’s requests or letting them have the remote for the night. It isn’t just going along with their plan or making dinner for them. It isn’t even just doing the dishes or picking up the groceries. It’s taking the time to think about their needs, to know what makes them tick as a person and intentionally choosing to help them. It’s knowing their hearts deeply and understanding their passions and desires, then it’s choosing to put aside our agendas and our needs, and looking for ways to make their lives more comfortable or more secure. It’s finding ways to make them feel more loved, more respected, more valued. Sacrificing means putting down our priorities, and picking up theirs. Being kind doesn’t always have to be big or time consuming—it can be as simple as asking about their day, or their hopes and dreams, and then really listening and making them feel heard, feel valued, feel loved. 

Being kind isn’t a surface level emotion, truly being kind begins with loving the person. By the world’s standards, we can be kind to people we don’t like, but that’s not the biblical definition of kindness, that’s not the kind of love God calls us to put on. The kindness we show our spouses is to come from a place of deep and steadfast love. 

It is hardest to be kind to someone who has hurt us deeply. In our own power, it’s impossible to demonstrate genuine kindness from our hearts when we’ve been hurt. We may put on a front and choose kindness as a way to demonstrate that person does not affect us, but the authentic kindness that comes from deep within our heart and genuinely wants to benefit the person who hurt us – that can only come from the Spirit. True kindness begins with forgiveness. Until we have let go of the hurt that our spouse has caused us, we simply cannot genuinely put their needs before our own. Forgiveness of those deep hurts happen only through the intervention of the Spirit. 

When the Spirit is thriving in me, I have a grace that spurs me on to think of my spouse before myself, that mellows anything in me that could be harsh. It is only because I have the grace of God at work in my heart that I have the power to be truly kind, to help my spouse without any benefit other than glorifying God. In a world marked with harshness and criticism, I want to be a person who is genuinely kind. I want to sacrifice my time and energy helping my family and not myself, so they see the grace of God at work in my heart. 

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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