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What Does the Bible Mean About ‘Love Is Kind?’

In 1 Corinthians 13:4, Paul enumerates a list of what love is, and we will be looking specifically at “love is kind.” Kindness is similar to patience since both have to do with how we treat others. But while patience is about withholding a hostile response when provoked, kindness is about proactively showing goodness and compassion toward others.

Human kindness has always been very limited, let alone absolute love itself. Both love and kindness can be quite difficult to demonstrate for mankind due to the selfishness of its sinful nature. The word “love” used here is translated from the Greek word for the highest form of love, agape, which means unconditional love. So, if you combine agape with kindness, this means that Paul is telling us that the loving kindness we should show to others is to be unconditional. We are not just to give loving kindness to our spouse, parents, children, relatives, friends, and those we naturally love but also to enemies or to those we think may not deserve it from us.

As Christians, we must follow the teaching of Christ regarding showing indiscriminate kindness to everyone and loving even our enemies (Luke 6:27-36). Since kindness is naturally proactive, we do not just love with words but with action, as John says in 1 John 3:18. Loving kindness is about being compassionate and generous to others. A person cannot be loving without showing kindness, especially those who follow Christ. Even as we repay kindness towards those who harm us, Scripture tells us in Romans 12:20-21:

“[20] Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. [21] Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As a response of kindness to those who are unkind to us, “heap coals of fire on his head” means that as we show lovingkindness, the enemy’s hostile mind may “melt” into repentance despite the animosity. Such kindness may lead a person to know Christ and even change the way they treat us. This is a reflection of the unconditionally loving and kind character of Christ. As God’s people, we must put on His kindness (Colossians 3:12).

It is amazing how God can show unfailing and everlasting lovingkindness to us (Isaiah 54:8). That even though we have been unkind to God, He remains kind to us and even demonstrated His kind love through the death of Christ on the cross—for the forgiveness of our sins and eternal redemption even while we were sinning (Romans 5:8). That is why God always calls us to go back to Him in humility and repentance—because He is compassionate and abounding in lovingkindness (Joel 2:13). This is the very reason the power of His love and kindness can bring a person to repentance (Romans 2:4). His kindness truly changes everything.

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

(Ephesians 2:5-7 KJV)

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