Love is kind-no, really! KIND!
I am not the nicest of people (at least from my own perspective when I do the false comparison of me to other people). I do not give off a sweet vibe at all. Most students think I am the meanest teacher in America until they get to know me; most adults think I am standoffish at first. I am none of those things. Introverted, not given to small talk, and polite and mannerable but reserved. Not nice as the world counts nice; not outwardly sweet.
But I am kind. I see when people are in need. I know when one needs a hug or a supportive word. I know when I just need to sit with someone in their pain or when I need to act. Serving others intuitively is a default setting for me. I always look and see what I can do to make it better, even if it just means remaining silent and giving space.
We live in a time where outward displays and public shows of artificial politeness and political correctness hide pure unadulterated selfishness. Like, we pretend like we care about what others are experiencing but we really don’t. We just want other people to think we care–especially in the world of church. You know, form of godliness but no power.
BUT. There is power in being kind. There is power in meeting a need for someone else without looking for clap-ups or paybacks. Holiness lives in the ability to look beyond what you view as a fault and see a need that God desires you to minister to. That kind of consideration is how Jesus pulled so many people into His orbit–looking into the heart of those that others would throw away as useless and foolish and ugly and seeing the good but also desiring to meet the need.
We are not Jesus, but we ARE his representatives here on earth. And that means that even when we cannot know or understand what someone else is going through, we remember that we ought to be touched with the feeling of their infirmities–in other words sympathizing/empathizing with their feelings even as we attempt to support them through the issue.
God is love, and a true test of our godly love is how kind we are when we don’t understand what someone else is going through. Do you judge? Do you condescend? Are you obtuse? Heavy handed in your response? Rational instead of relational? Then you have a kindness issue.
The next time you encounter someone who is suffering in some way, do this for me. Change the question from “I don’t understand what’s wrong with you?” to “I don’t understand, but how can I support you?” Even if you cannot do anything, the part that will stick is the thought and desire to help, and the recognition that we all fight battles that no one else can see.
This is the heart of God: love that makes room.