Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
Last week I began a series of articles on what I call “the divine dress code,” as we read it from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul in his epistle to the church at Colossae. We took an extended look at the compassion our Lord commands us to wear; today we will examine kindness.
Jesus was as kind as He was compassionate, and His Spirit is working to create the same heart of love in those of us who claim His name. I think the best way I can describe how to practice biblical kindness is to be patient with those who try our patience over and over again. It is easy to lash out with a harsh word or to form a negative opinion about those who try our patience, but kindness refuses to surrender to that kind of fleshly response. Instead, we embody the biblical command to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
It’s easy to see that without the ability to forgive, kindness is impossible. It’s easy to be kind to those who are kind to us, those who don’t rub us the wrong way or put obstacles in our way. But this is not the way of our Lord. Remember, He told us to be kind to our enemies (Luke 6:35), and he has clearly demonstrated His incomparable kindness to us:
When the kindness of and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:4-5)
God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6-7)
Think about God’s kindness this way: His cosmic kindness caused the coming of His only Son into this world to save us and to give us our eternal hope. Over and over again, the Bible commands us to be kind. John wrote, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). I don’t believe I am taking any liberty with Scripture when I say that, in the same way, we are commanded to Be kind because He was first kind to us.
Take a moment to prayerfully consider those whom you admire most in your life. Why do you feel this way? No doubt, their kindness toward you shows up at the top of the list. Now consider your interactions with others and ask yourself: In what ways am I reflecting the kindness of Christ? and In what ways am I not? And finally, ask yourself, What must I prayerfully work to change in order to put on kindness?
May the divine dress code of kindness be the confession of our lives, regardless of the cost or circumstance. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!