Does Love Require Kindness?

Anyone who believes the Bible as God’s inspired, authoritative, inerrant word will likely realize that there are times God disciplined. As the writer of Hebrews says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful” (12:11a). At the same time, Scripture says God is love.

So the conclusion would seem to be, No, love does not require kindness, at least not if kindness is understood the way it is used today to mean friendly, generous, considerate.

In Romans, Paul says, “Behold the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity” (11:22a). Does that mean God stops being Love? Not at all. Rather His severity—an outgrowth of His love—is intended to warn or rebuke as a means of bringing those who are away from Him into relationship.

But we Christians are not God. We do not have His all-knowing wisdom or His perfect Love. We have not been given the role of Judge (see James 4:12). Instead we’ve been commanded to love—God, our neighbor (and from the story Jesus told, that apparently includes strangers in need), our enemies, our husband or wife, other believers.

Some years ago, I became convicted about my attitude toward other drivers (on SoCal freeways, but surface roads too) who cut me off or switched lanes without signaling or did any number of things that made driving more hazardous for the rest of us. “Jerk!” I’d say, and sometimes adjust my driving so I could glare at him as I (hopefully) drove by.

Somehow God got through to me that my summation of those drivers as “jerks” was my version of calling them “fools” or good-for-nothing, something Jesus said makes me guilty (Matt. 5:22).

Who am I to dismiss someone made in God’s image, loved by Him to the point of sending His Son to die on the cross that that person might believe and be saved? Instead, with a mental shake of my fist, I write him off as someone of no value.

I don’t believe my attitude qualified as loving.

Isn’t snarkiness on the Internet the same thing? When we treat someone with disrespect, perhaps because we forget that real people are behind the avatars popping up with comments, can we honestly think our words come from love and concern for the other person?

I know when I went to Mr. Ban-her’s site (see Friday’s post), I wasn’t thinking about the person behind the post. I wanted to chastise this faceless person for slamming another Christian—pretty much the same thing I ended up doing.

This “I get to be your judge, not your neighbor” thinking on the Internet, especially among Christians, is not good. Technology does not give me a free pass to ignore God’s commandments.

And offense (see Mike Duran’s post “Let’s Stop Being So Easily Offended”) does not give me the right to respond with a Rambo-esque verbal tirade.

Our culture leads us to believe we should express ourselves in an authentic way, to the point that many lose sight of proper boundaries. Others of us in the Christian community choose our cultural proclivities over God’s Word as the guiding principles of our lives.

And worse, some fall into a “if it feels good, do it” kind of mentality. If it feels good to rip on someone else, do it. If it’s funny to ridicule someone else, do it.

God’s love may not always look kind at first, but for us—when it comes to the Internet, at least—I’m not sure we have a better way of expressing God’s love than by a little kindness.

Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm  Comments (2)  
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