The second characteristic of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is that it is “kind”. Kindness in its most basic sense is to bless or benefit someone without thought of repayment. Some practical examples of everyday kindness would be helping a little old lady across the street, holding an elevator for someone, or letting someone go before you in a check out line at the grocery store. Three things must be present in order for an act to qualify as being kind. First, the act needs to bless someone else. Second, it needs to not directly benefit the one being kind. Third, there needs to be no expectation of repayment from the one doing the act. For example, it would not be kind to help the little old lady across the street then ask her for money, or worse, to take her half way across the street and threaten to leave her there if she doesn’t pay for the second half of the journey. The essence of kindness is to bless with no personal benefit and no expectation of compensation, which is what love does.
So, not only does love suffer long, enduring mistreatment and insults without becoming resentful or vengeful, but it also actively seeks out opportunities to bless and be a benefit to those who are offending it. Which brings up a needful distinction between a blessing and a reward. A reward is something that is earned, like a paycheck—there is nothing kind about an employer giving what is deserved. In contrast, a blessing is something that is not based on merit or behavior, like a gift given out of love. God’s kindness cannot be earned.
God, in His love, is kind towards us; He actively seeks out opportunities to bless us. Take a moment and think about the implication of that statement. How many opportunities does a sovereign, omnipotent, infinite, creative God have to bless us? God is not restrained in any way in His ability to bless—He actually creates and handcrafts opportunities for us to experience His kindness. When we think about God and His kindness, it is important to remember that He blesses in accordance with who He is not in accordance with who we are; His blessings are not contingent on our behavior. God does not bless us because we are good, He blesses us because He is good.
What does God, in His kindness, ask for in return? Nothing. His desire is to bless us not to burden us—He is seeking to do things for us not to get things from us. The reality is that we have nothing to give Him anyway, there is nothing that we have that is not already His. Additionally, He is in need of nothing, loses nothing when He gives to us, and therefore requires nothing from us. God’s heart is infinitely filled with love and His hand is open toward us.
God’s remarkable kindness towards us should cause excessive thankfulness in us, our hearts should be overflowing with gratitude and gratefulness. God, in His kindness, showers us with blessings regardless of our actions or our attitudes; and knowing that should cause a change in both our actions and our attitudes—we should be grateful and thankful people.
However there is a silent killer that suffocates our heart’s ability to be thankful—Entitlement. Entitlement slowly blinds our eyes to the true goodness of God’s kindness; we begin to convince ourselves that we deserve it, that we have somehow earned it. We begin to take His kindness for granted, treating it as something common. Thankfulness and entitlement are mutually exclusive; you will not be thankful if you feel entitled and you will not feel entitled if your are thankful. Therefore, chose to have a thankful heart today–spend a few minutes thanking God for His kindness in your life.