1Cor 13 God is love – Love is … love is kind,
If patience is active it seems to be active resistance to responses that are not loving. But kindness seems to be more active. When Paul lists kindness among the attributes of love in this beautiful summation of the idea it becomes more active to me. Kindness is an act. We actually use the phrase, “acts of kindness”.
This is held up by the Greek word here. It is unique to this place in the New Testament. Paul calls on the verb form of an adjective that is translated, “good”, “virtuous”, “manageable”, “gracious”, “useful” and “kind”. (Adjective, remember generally any word you can put “very” in front of.) Paul is wanting us to know that he is talking about love being actively kind.
To take a lesson from word study, taking the outlier in to account as with most things helps give the scope of meaning and can reveal the word’s underlying intent. In this case pay attention to the fact that this word has the word “useful” in its list of English translations. Remember there are many ways we use words and some of those are hard to directly translate into another language.
Consider that acts of kindness are acts of usefulness directed to another person. Love does kind things for others. If you rake you neighbors leaves when they are out of town, it is a useful act on their behalf. The neighbor will often remark about how kind it was of you. This helps with the application of the word in real life. Kindness can be an action toward someone that is not nice toward you. The utility of picking up a few spilled nails from your neighbor’s driveway is kind even if the neighbor is not.
I think this puts a finer point on the concept of loving your enemy. The utility of it is undeniable when one person does something kind to another. I once lived in a house with a very small lawn that adjoined that of my not so friendly neighbor. I would mow both lawns when I mowed mine since they were connected. It was a very small act, but it became difficult for my neighbor to accept and so he asked me to stop. I did stop and even that was an act of kindness. I hasten to add that I did not think of it as a big deal, it was a very small lawn, but the worth of it to my neighbor was troubling to him.
Love is kind. Love, like the love of God, acts out things that bless other people. So, kindness is not a benevolent personality that takes no action when another person has a need. To be kind, as God is kind is to actively, do a good thing because someone else needs it.
Love is kind, are we?
“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.” Luke 6:35 MSG
Kind: generous, helpful, and thinking about other people’s feelings