Love Is Kind
When the Holy Spirit tells us that “love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4), He means more than just having a sweet disposition. Remember, every description of love in this chapter involves action. To be kind literally means “to show oneself useful.” It is more than being nice; it is working positively and constructively for the benefit of another. Because love seeks the good of the other person, it makes every effort to promote that good. When love sees a need in someone else, it uses itself up to meet that need. Thus the New Testament speaks of God’s “kindness” toward us, especially in extending mercy and salvation (Romans 2:4; Titus 3:4; 1 Peter 2:3). Our need is redemption, and God has sacrificed freely to provide it.
Being kind doesn’t imply that we should passively let ourselves be used (manipulated) by others, but that we should actively look for ways we can be useful to them. And our kindness should not be limited only to those who are kind to us. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?…And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others?” (Matthew 5:46-47). Just as longsuffering endures ill treatment from others, kindness repays them only with good. “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone…‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21). Love is kind, regardless of whether the other person deserves it, appreciates it, or repays it. Love imitates God, who “is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35).
While our kindness should be unlimited, nowhere should it be more evident than toward our fellow disciples (see Galatians 6:10). God expects His people to go out of their way to meet each other’s needs. Even in a church full of problems, like Corinth? Yes, especially there! Loving kindness may not cure all of a congregation’s troubles, but a lack of it is sure to compound them.
Doing things for the good of others is good for us. It gives us something constructive to do with our time. It helps us forget our own troubles. It makes it much harder to fuss and squabble (which may be one reason Colossians 3:14 calls love “the perfect bond of unity”). Kindness lets us make a real difference in other people’s lives. And most of all, it makes us more like Jesus.