This morning, we begin with a new message series helping us to better understand and live out unconditional love.
Our new message series is entitled, “Love Is” and it is based on that familiar passage found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
We were created by God with the need for love that can only be expressed through relationships.
As there are different types of relationships, there are different types of love. There is, however, a type of love that we are to express toward anyone and everyone. In fact, the Bible teaches that if we learn how to express this type of love toward God and others, that we will entirely fulfill all that God’s law requires of us. This distinct type of love is the love that God has for us. In the Greek language, it is the word agape. It is this type of unconditional love that we’ll be covering through this message series.
To be able to possess and express this unconditional love, we’re going to break it down into parts as Paul chose to do in his letter to the Corinthians. He taught all about spiritual gifts and said that it is not using these gifts that truly matters, but how we choose to use them, our motive, that matters to God. We can do all sorts of good things for God, but if we do not do them as an expression of God’s love, then they are pointless, useless, and meaningless.
1 Corinthians 13:1-4
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 14 Love is patient, love is kind…
Love is kind.
What is most interesting about all of the attributes of God’s love that we are going to cover here in this chapter is that every single word is a verb. In the English translations, these words appear to be adjectives describing God’s love. In the Greek language, however, every single one of these descriptive words are actually verbs. God’s love not an idea, it is not a concept; God’s love is an action!
The word translated here to kind is the Greek word chrēsteuomai and it is used only this one single time in the Bible. Bear with me through this. I don’t usually go into these things, but I think it is important for us to learn a bit about the Greek language in which this letter was written.
Grammatically, “kind” or “chrēsteuomai” is a verb in the present tense and using the middle voice. It is an action and one that is continuously ongoing. Middle voice is the usage of a verb common in the Greek language, but foreign to the English language.
Middle voice means that the verb is happening by the subject and to the subject. In the English language, a verb has either a passive and an active voice. The passive voice is the subject receiving the action and the active voice is the subject doing the action. For example, the passive voice would be, “A box was moved by Steve.” Box is the subject and moved is the verb. The active voice would be, “Steve moved a box.” Steve is now the subject while moved still remains the verb. In the English language, the closest thing to a middle voice example would be, “Steve moved.” Steve is now both the subject acting as well as the recipient of the action.
What did Jesus say that the second greatest commandment was? Love others as we love ourselves. Be kind to yourself, and be kind others. Middle voice; both the actor and the recipient of that action. Kind yourself!
The reality is that how we view and treat ourselves will often be how to view and treat others. If I mess something up, do I get irritated and frustrated and begin to think things like, “You’re never going to get this right! You’ll always be a failure! What’s wrong with you?” Or do you laugh at yourself and think to yourself, “Alright, let’s do this better next time around!”
Which attitude is patient and kind? Which approach is loving? Which approach does God use with us?
The way that you treat yourself will often be the way that you treat others. To love others, we must first learn how to love ourselves. A better way to phrase and think about this reality is that in order to pour out God’s love to others, we must first receive it from Him. We have to learn how to allow God’s love to transform our lives so that we view ourselves the way that He views us. We must learn to think toward ourselves the way that God thinks toward us.
Love is kind.
If we allow this to happen, our marriages, families, workplaces, communities, every single place where we have influence into would begin to improve. If we learned how to allow God’s love to transform us so that we view ourselves and others as God does and if we began to treat ourselves and others as God treats us, things would begin to radically change.
Love is kind.
Kind is not a description of love neither an attribute of love. Kind is the act of love. It is not simply an act that we choose to do. Kind is an act that we do because it is who and what we are. Saying that love is kind is like saying that water is wet and that it makes things wet because it is wet. Water can’t help making things wet because wet is what it is. A follower of Jesus should be kind because kind is what they are.
Water doesn’t make one person wet and the next person dry because one person is deserving of wetness and the next one is a jerk and hasn’t earned the wetness possessed by water. Water is no respecter of persons, it will express its wetness to anyone it comes in contact with. So should it be with kindness to a Christian.
You know for certain as soon as you feel that wetness that you have experienced a personal encounter with water no matter how small the amount of it. Anyone who has had just a single drop of rain go down the back of their neck and run down their back never forgets that encounter. In fact, even just mentioning it probably made most of us recall that sensation. In the same way, our kindness should make a lasting impact on those around us.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Love is kind.
Unfortunately, Christians are marked by the world around us now more so for what we are against than for our love. Why? Because we turn our love on and off like a faucet. We spend more time speaking against things than about how awesome our God is. We too often choose to bless those who bless us and curse those who we disagree with. We’re kind to those who have shown us kindness and we curse out those who mistreat us. Jesus taught a really difficult and challenging truth about this:
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (some translations say be perfect, just as your Father is perfect)
God has given us self-control and power. What takes more strength, to smack back those who smack us or to refuse to react to those who provoke us and offer up the other cheek of our own free will? Don’t stoop down to the level of others, take the high road and set the example. Walk in integrity and expect its reward.
Love is kind and it is kind to everyone in all circumstances at all times. Love is kind and that kindness never ceases and never fails. Love is kind and that kindness cannot be stopped by anyone or anything and no law can ever be made against it. Love is kind and is utterly unstoppable if we so choose to allow it to be.
Paul wrote in the letter to the Romans dealing with hypocrisy in the church as some people were condemning others and judging them for doing the exact same wrongs that they were doing themselves. He said that those who practiced such self-seeking actions were storing up for themselves wrath on the day that Jesus pours it out. After all, hypocrisy and judgmental and condemning attitudes aren’t very kind, are they? Love is kind and is not self-seeking!
In the midst of this teaching and warning, Paul poses a question:
do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
God’s love expressed through kindness is not intended to serve as justification for our wrongdoing. It isn’t to downplay our sin or encourage us to continue in it. God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance. It is intended to lead us to change our ways and to gain freedom from the sin that we’re ensnared in. It is to fill our hearts so overflowing with gratitude and awe of God that our desire for anything less than His best be drowned.
While we were yet enemies of God in rebellion against Him by our sinful choices, we encountered God’s kindness. While we were yet sinners, Jesus died on the cross for us taking on the shame and condemnation and penalty for my own actions. It was this act of kindness that draws our hearts to repentance.
Jesus did not hang on the cross calling out the sins of each one and demanding that they change. No, that is not at all what brings about salvation and repentance! Jesus hung on that cross saying, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Jesus hung on that cross and said to the thief on the cross beside Him who well deserved his punishment, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Love is kind and is not self-seeking.
God’s loving kindness is poured out into our lives to motivate a change in our desires and in our way of thinking. Jesus expresses His love through kindness to us while we are still caught up in our sin even though we know better and have the power and ability to choose freedom. How much more should we express that same kindness to those around us caught in sin and without the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about life transformation and who may simply not know any better?
Love is kind.
This kind love of God is from the root word that is used in verses such as:
Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Luke 5:39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, “The old is better.”
1 Co 15:33 Do not be mislead: bad company corrupts good character.
Eph 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1 Peter 2:2-3 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Easy, better, good, gracious; love is kind.
What happens for us when we choose to receive the love of God and express it back to Him and others?
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Let’s no longer take the love of God expressed through kindness toward us for granted. Let’s be intentional and look for ways to be kind to those around us. Not just those that are down and out and appear to need an act of kindness, but also to those who seem to be doing just fine and even going out of our way to show kindness to those who intentionally and maliciously rise against us.
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.
You get rewarded by Jesus and it will likely further tick your enemy off as there is no way to fight against an act of kindness. No one can stop us from being kind. Take this kindness show-down as an example…
As God has shown His kindness toward us unconditionally, let’s be kind to those around us. Let’s allow the love of God to transform us so that love is not merely an act that we choose to perform from time to time, but that we become loving. As water can’t help but make everything that it comes in contact with wet, let’s go out there and be kind to everyone because kind is what we are.
Love is kind.