Lately, I have been exclusively in the Apostle John’s writings, in my personal readings, my blog writing, and my time with my wife.
John reiterates one theme, over and over again in my opinion, and that is that we are to love one another, to love like Jesus, to love.
It is refreshing to be reminded of the core mission of believers.
Love like Jesus.
Love is the goal of all of Christian life. Love that is displayed in the life of Jesus. The life and death of Jesus. This love is described in 1 Corinthians 13. Let’s consider
Love is kind
It has been years since a brother once instructed me to replace the term “love” with “Jesus” to get a better understanding of who He is.
Jesus is kind
Kindness, in my mind, is the same as being “nice”.
But does the Bible teach believers to be nice?
Let’s consider a comparison of these two concepts. I owe this information to Crumps Corner.
|Speaks up||Stays quiet|
|Tells the truth||Lies to keep the peace|
|Moves forward with care||Holds back|
|Takes courage||Lacks courage|
|Is more concerned for others than self||Is more concerned for self than for others|
|Desires to be helpful||Desires to be liked|
|Leads to success||Prevents success|
I read a book a few years ago, simply because the title was so outrageous. “Don’t Be a Nice Christian”, or something like that. I had always assumed that Christianity was typified by niceness. You are so nice Carl, what a nice Christian. You do nice things Carl… The book started to bug me. Alot.
Let’s consider the concept of niceness per Bible teaching.
Okay I found three words in the Bible that refer to “nice”
Bernice, Eunice, Phenice – Definitely not the results I was hoping for! Nothing of any command for believers to “be nice”
Nothing to see here folks. Let’s move along…
Not so with the kindness Paul uses to describe Christian love. The passage we are reading today defines love as kind (chresteoumai). This word is used ten times in the New Testament, mostly describing the kindness (or sometimes translated as goodness, gentleness) of God. Nevertheless, love as expressed as kind is a goal for the believer to strive to.
What does that look like? This table above, I suggest gives us much to consider. If you are “nice” like I am “nice”, you will want to consider the differences.
2 Corinthians 6:6
by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;
Paul is describing the methods of service to God by which they commend themselves to others. It is interesting that two verses earlier, patience rears its head again in the description of the Christian life! I wonder which patience he refers to? The “makro” or the “hupo”? I gave you a hint in the last post if you remember!
Back to kindness. Paul’s method of serving God included kindness. Vines Expository Dictionary of the New Testament states
It signifies “not merely goodness as a quality, rather it is goodness in action, goodness expressing itself in deeds,
Kindness is not simply a feeling within your heart, or only a good attitude toward others, which of course is required, but it is expressed in acts of usefulness to others. By implication, to those who do not deserve it – those who may be neutral to us, or – dare I say it – our enemies!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, not a work of the flesh. Focus on the source and not the fruit and the fruit will fruit out. (does that make sense to you?)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
A simple command for believers to obey. Be kind, by putting on the new man, the Christ.
In conclusion I have a question for my gentle reader.
Was the Christ kind when he cleaned the temple? I certainly do not think He was nice, but again, let us refuse that connection with Christianity.
Jesus replacing Love
So is my brother’s suggestion of replacing the term love with Jesus accurate and helpful?
The gospels do not describe Jesus with the exact Greek term Paul uses in this passage, the root word chrēstos, is definitely used in relation to the Master. Many of you are zeroing in on one of the more famous descriptions of our Lord when He described Himself thusly.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
He is gentle and lowly in heart, and yet the term we are looking at is describing the yoke He is providing to those who will follow. The yoke is “kind”. He is gentle and His yoke in easy, or kind. I have heard it described as a yoke that doesn’t chafe the neck of the one wearing it.
As we look to the Master, as we recognize His character, and the tremendous love He has for us, the yoke, no matter what it may entail in our lives at the time, is tailored to our need and condition. To realize this, we must understand His character, His meekness and lowliness of heart.
He directs us to learn of Him, and yet describes Himself as meek. If He were not the Son of God, this claim to learn of Him would be an act of extreme arrogance. If the Son of God, this direction to learn of Him is wisdom personified.
Learn of Him. He is the truth.
Please join me as we continue our travels through 1 Cor 13, looking at the first description of love as a negative. (Say it isn’t so Carl)
I look forward to comments and discussion. May the Lord give you an understanding heart and a willing spirit to consider the Bible and all it’s wealth.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.