My children know this verse backwards and forwards and in my own Mommy Version, which goes like this: And be ye kind one to your brother/sister/ mother/father (as needed) tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32, this mother’s version).
It’s a command. Be kind.
But, do we have to be kind to everybody? All the time?
Kindness is one of God’s attributes. Look at these verses:
- And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead (Ruth 2:20a).
- For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD (Psalm 117:2).
- Jesus said, But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil (Luke 6:35).
- And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil (Joel 2:13).
- But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses … By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned (2 Corinthians 6:4, 6)
- That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).
Through these verses, we learn that God is kind to everyone, even lousy humans who aren’t thankful, even evil. God’s essence demands His kindness.
One of the things God says about the Virtuous Woman is: She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26). How many of us use speech that is ruled by kindness?
Lets look at some more verses about what the Lord expects of Christians:
- Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (Colossians 3:12).
- Add … to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (from 2 Peter 1:5, 7).
Being kind obeys Scripture and sets Christians apart from the world.
Kindness doesn’t mean that a person cannot stand up for his rights. Remember Paul? The authorities, not knowing he was a Roman citizen by birth, treated him as a foreigner and tied him up to be scourged. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? (Acts 22:25, Complete story in Acts 22:22-29) Paul wasn’t being unkind; he was only claiming his rights as a Roman citizen.
Jesus cleansed the Temple with a little cord whip. You might think that wasn’t kind. Are we forgetting Who Jesus is? He is God. He knows everything. He is just and kind. Did He forget Himself and act in the flesh? Absolutely not! He is the only Person Who has the right to judge. He had made the rules about temple worship in the first place. Here’s the story: And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves (Mark 11:15-17).
In Matthew’s account, immediately after Jesus threw out the moneychangers, we read: And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did…. (Matthew 21:14-15a). This doesn’t sound like Jesus was unkind, does it?
Indeed, in John’s gospel, the only one of the four gospels where the “whip” is mentioned, it says it was small and made of cords. Never does it say it was used on people or animals.
God is kind.
God wants us to be kind.
He’s kind to everyone—good and bad—and He wants us to be like Him.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).