by Anita Miles
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
A little earlier today, I headed out to meet a friend for breakfast. As I was stopped at a red light, I glanced over to see a quote on the church sign next to me. It read, “Love is Kind. If it’s not, it’s something else!” I quickly grabbed my journal from my purse and wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it after leaving the red light. My intention was to come back to that thought at some point as I already had my thought processes together to put on paper for this week. But the words, “if it’s not, it’s something else...” just kept nagging at me. They struck me as profound words of wisdom that the Christian world needs to hear right now.
If there’s one thing the world is missing out on, yet needs the most, it’s an overwhelming infusion of love and kindness. Hate, division and opinions are readily available in devastating toxic doses on every corner. It seems everywhere we turn, people are edgy and easily agitated over the slightest little issues. And aren’t afraid to say so. I see a lot of different family situations with the type of work that I do. Sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the way some people claim to “love” their family and their fellow man. The very idea of love has been reinvented in our culture to accommodate all of our dysfunctions. It’s devastating and it’s no wonder we have the social ills that we do because of the warped sense of “love” we have adopted and adapted to.
Did you know that statistically, every 9 seconds, a woman is beaten and abused in the United States? And a HUGE majority of those women will turn around and somehow be convinced that this happens sometimes with love and their abuser actually “loves” them. This doesn’t even take into consideration others who receive mental abuse through hateful words. Again, “love is kind - if it’s not, it’s something else.” I guess it is up to interpretation of what that something else is. I have a soft heart for victims of domestic violence. More than once I have hidden and helped abused women get to safe houses. Every part of that process is agonizing emotionally. And all of this doesn’t even include or scratch the surface of the hatred, sexual abuse, and violence towards children in our nation. I have taken care of children whose bones have been broken in half by their own mother while she was enraged. I think we would all agree - this is NOT love.
As a side note, if you are a woman experiencing abuse, don’t allow your abuser to isolate you and don’t be afraid to reach out to the people who do actually love you and will help you.
I’m telling you, we are in DESPERATE need of some REAL love and kindness. Just ask the awesome teachers who give the only hugs some kids will get. They will tell you how desperate these kids are for someone to truly love them.
A few weeks ago my daughter closely witnessed an unnecessary explosion between an employee of a restaurant and a customer. We both had a hard time absorbing the rudeness by the customer that was exhibited and I thought I’d make that into a teachable moment while it was fresh on our minds. After the event, I communicated very plainly to my young daughter that it doesn’t matter what your family traits are, how hot-headed or sharp everyone is that shares the same DNA as you, or what the “excuse” may be, as a Christian, there is NEVER any reason good enough to treat or talk to other humans in that manner.
I’m afraid that particularly my generation of women has lost touch with the fact that kindness is a requirement as a Christian. It’s not really optional. Maybe it’s a lack of strong teaching on this subject. In complete transparency, some of the things I have witnessed from some “Christian” conservative women over the past year - on social media in particular - has kind of blown my mind. There came a point over the past year that I had to completely disconnect because I had no ability to separate what people claimed they were spiritually and what their virtual life exhibited. There was no congruency in the two, and it was downright disturbing. I had a hard time understanding how women could say they loved Christ and yet be so unkind and mouthy to their fellow humans - especially where politics and opinions on COVID were concerned.
Unfortunately, just because a particular undesirable personality trait is passed down, there is not a valid reason for unkind behavior. If we are truly born again, we are to be transformed. Paul says we must mortify the flesh. We must die daily to the flesh. We must CHOOSE to live Godly and display attributes that are pleasing to Christ.
Proverbs 31 describes the virtuous woman’s attitude and speech by saying “and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” There are mandates of Scripture that must be obeyed if we profess to love God. We must love our neighbor and we must exhibit love through kindness.
Colossians 3 gives an interesting take on being kind. It’s as though the virtuous traits that are mandated are as something we put on along with our clothes we are dressing in for the day. Just as importantly as it is to clothe ourselves in modesty before we leave our homes, it’s just as necessary to put on, with intention, the attributes and attitudes that please God. When we stand before God, the excuse of “well it ran in the family” or “that’s the way my daddy was, so that’s the way I am” will not be sufficient. We will be judged by what the Word of God demands of us.
Are we kind to the waitress or the fast food worker who gets our order wrong or do we have to make a public example of their faults in front of the little ears who listen beside us? More than one time, we have heard waitresses say that their most dreaded groups in restaurants are the church groups because they can be so rude and unkind. And leave such little tips. If we cannot be kind to these people, we left the house without our entire wardrobe. We didn’t “put on” kindness that day. What if you were the only example of Jesus that person will meet for the week? Love is kind! If it’s not, it’s something else... We have been mandated by God to love our fellow man. Even on the days they mess our food orders up or whatever else gets under our skin.
I believe with the world hurting the way it is in these trying days, there’s never been a better opportunity for the church to shine. And a good place for Christian women to start, is by lacing our conversations and interactions with kindness. Face to face and when we get to hide behind the screen. The type of kindness that emanates the love of God through us. One of the marks of maturity is that we don’t always have to tell our side...even if something was unfair or is disagreeable. As a Christian woman, my goal shouldn’t be to win arguments. It should be to win souls. So while there may be some short lived immediate gratitude that we’ve laid out our “side” and WON our argument, are we ok with that in the process, we may have just LOST our influence with souls? Love is kind! If it’s not, it’s something else….
We are in pursuit of virtue and things that are Godly. This morning when we get ready to face the day, not only do we put on our attire for the day. Scripture says it like this…
”Put ON therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”
“But now ye also put OFF all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
Being kind should be the core of who we are. As the virtuous woman, kindness should be the law by which we speak. Anything less is a Christianity that is very shallow. Being “sassy and proud of it” isn’t an attribute that God is pleased with in us or our young daughters. We need to teach our children the truth on this matter. It’s destructive to allow them to believe otherwise.
We get to choose our actions and how we live out love. We choose to put those Godly attributes on and whether we put the negative ones off. I want to make sure I get this right! Because while I get to choose my actions, I don’t get to choose the consequences of when I get it wrong. I have to choose to show love through kindness. Love is kind! If it’s not kind, then it’s not love….it’s something else.