My wife and I had just finished a lengthy bike ride, and I hadn’t slept well the night before. So I was pretty tired when we started to rearrange some bedroom furniture.
I began complaining, was critical, and found fault with her in an unkind way for which I later apologized and sought forgiveness.
General George S. Patton Jr. stated, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Fatigue may explain why we are sometimes cruel rather than kind, but it is certainly not an excuse, and especially not for believers in Christ.
Paul admonishes “those…holy and beloved” to “put on a heart of…kindness” (Colossians 3:12). Kindness—not cruelty—is a function of at least two realities working together.
Kindness is a consequence of our salvation. We express true kindness to the extent we have experienced it. Paul said that God’s “kindness leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4). In an act of undeserved kindness, God sent Jesus to die in the place of human beings who deserve punishment for our rebellion (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; 6:23).
When such kindness moves us to personally turn from (repent of) our sinful rebellion, believe Christ’s sacrifice paid our debt, and trust that He rose conquering sin and death, we are eternally forgiven. As God’s pardoned children we are indwelled by His Spirit (Romans 8:9,11) and empowered to resist cruelty and exhibit kindness.
Just as an apple tree produces apples, God’s Spirit within His children produces kindness towards others (Galatians 5:22).
Kindness is also a conscious decision. “Put on kindness” (Colossians 3:12) describes an ongoing deliberate choice to exercise kindness instead of cruelty.
Our vehicle has a maintenance light that comes on every time we turn on the ignition. This default can be reset with the push of a button. The sinful default of cruelty within humanity must continually be reset to choose kindness through a conscious decision. Through mental reset, God’s Spirit works with our choice so that we more consistently exhibit kindness.
One helpful way to push the “kindness reset” button is to be reminded of, reflect upon, and resolve to follow God’s command for His children to be kind.
Ephesians 4:32 provides us with both God’s mandate for kindness and the proper motivation: “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
God’s kindness to forgive us through Christ stimulates our kindness towards our children, spouses, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers out of loving devotion and not legalistic duty.
The best dressed hearts are clothed with kindness.