I will never forget the first time I heard it. I was sitting with my son, listening to Banning Liebsher (of Jesus Culture) talk. He began remarking on the kindness of God. He seemed to be awestruck by how kind our Father is. Not good, not loving, not His faithfulness, or how he was amazed by God's works of healing, just His kindness. It seemed so odd! There I was, with my nearly grown kid, listening to another kid, (yes, Banning is a kid to me), and I was trying to remember if there was ever a time I thought of God as kind.
The question stuck. Is God kind? And if He is, why did I hold Him at such a distance that I remarked on His greatness, yet overlooked His kindness?
Perhaps I had always treated God's grace as a legal transaction. One of those if-and-then propositions. "If we confess our sins, then he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (ESV) If I confessed, then He owed me forgiveness, like putting money into a Coke machine. If I put the money in, it owed me a Coke in return. Could I have really been that callused?
After all, I was the one lost in sin. I was the guilty one. He owed me nothing. I was the one who owed a debt that I could never repay. I was broken. Lost. Marred by the same dirt that gets on all of us. Just as guilty the the man serving time on death row for murder. I deserved death.
But the He found me. In His kindness He found me.
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)
Did you see that? He not only provides us with forgiveness, and new life, but we become heirs! True sons and daughters of God!
Maybe I received Christ at such a young age that I never fully comprehended the measure to which He went to win me back from death. The older I get, the more I realize that I am not entitled to any of His kindness. From the best of the best, to the worst of the worst, we all deserve death.
"So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding." Ephesians 1:6-8 (NLT)
The attribute of kindness is not just something Jesus displayed on the cross, it has always been a part of His nature, and will always be a part of His nature. One of God's names is Elohim Chaseddi; the God of kindness. It was the love of the Father that sent Christ to the cross. It is the love of the Father that continually, faithfully, consistently draws us unto Him.
"Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" Romans 2:4 (NLT)
Even now, as we strive to emulate the love of the Father, it is not the crooked finger of condemnation that draws people into repentance. It is the open arms of kindness that draw people unto Him. It is His kindness openly displayed on the cross, and continually displayed through God's people demonstrating kindness and compassion, (not sugar coating the sin), but loving people out of their lostness, out of their shame, and into the loving light of Jesus. Kindness that does not give up on people when they fail. The kindness of a gentle reminder that they are loved, even though.
I am on journey to know God better, so I hope this helps you a little bit as you too, strive to know Him. God is love. Love is kind. It's really not that complicated.
How has He shown you kindness lately?