Why is God So Kind?
By Margaret Feinberg
Kindness contains an unmistakable transforming power. It’s disarming–especially when delivered in unexpected moments. Kindness has the ability to change our attitudes and responses, transforming the way we interact with others and the world. Even hardened hearts melt in the presence of kindness. Something about the nature of kindness pierces the soul, accentuating our own humanity and reminding us that we, too, can be kind.
In the search to know the God organically through the scripture, I have been surprised to discover that he is abundantly kind. Sure, I was familiar with his love and grace, but his kindness caught me unaware. Now it’s hard for me to read more than a portion of Scripture without encountering his abundant kindness.
God’s kindness reached down from heaven in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the key motivations behind this extravagant grace was kindness. God saw humanity beyond redemption and sent a redeemer. It wasn’t deserved or the fulfillment of an IOU–but rather an act of love which manifested itself in kindness, an expression of covenantal love–a willingness to honor the commitment to love, even when treated badly. Titus 3:4 — 5 acknowledges, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”
If I am to know God as he really is, then I must not just accept that God is kind, I must embrace his kindness as my own. I need that kindness to saturate my being and transform me.
Awhile back, I found myself living life in overdrive–the kind of busy where you’re burning the candle on both ends as well as in the middle. Completely maxed out, I was living at a speed and capacity greater than my life could contain. My relationship with God suffered. Actually, it wasn’t just my relationship with God, it was every relationship, but in his kindness, he was the first to speak up.
Tired of living on peanut butter, crackers, and canned corn, I took time out of an already busy schedule to buy fresh provisions. I carefully calculated the shortest checkout line at the store, completed my purchase, and rushed to the car. While transferring the groceries from the cart to the car, a crystal-clear thought overwhelmed my mind: I miss you.
The voice was so loud that it could have been audible, but it was not. There was no one around. I instantly knew the voice. God had spoken. No question. No doubt.
My eyes welled up and my soul softened as I prayed a quiet but heartfelt, I’m sorry, and I miss you too. The experience was one of the most tender interactions with God I have ever had. I was deeply moved and still am to this day, not because God’s words made me feel shame or guilt, but because they were bathed in his kindness. I don’t know if God could have spoken any kinder words to me at the time. His kindness was an invitation to come back into relationship with him, and I couldn’t help but respond.
God’s kindness also reminded me that he favors the weak, and his invitation to rest is extended to the most tired of souls. Jesus describes his yoke as “easy,” not because he demands less of us, but because he bears more of the weight himself. The yoke of Jesus is lined with kindness, and obeying God’s laws actually brings restoration to our souls.
Such abundant kindness is overwhelming. How can someone who has so much, grace someone who has so little? Why does God choose to be kind to me?
As part of humanity, we are all in a vulnerable situation. We are susceptible to disappointments, disease, pain, and all the things that come with living in an imperfect world. That is why kindness–particularly God’s kindness–is so important. Simple acts of kindness put us at ease. They impart hope. At times, they make all the difference.
Occasionally, a display of kindness may have no visible effect. The person may keep the same tone or walk away with the same outward demeanor, but something still changes in us when we allow kindness to win out in the battle of our hearts.
Like the redemption scene from on of my all-time favorite holiday cartoons The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, kindness makes our hearts grow larger. When we pour our energy into someone else–whether it’s saving a sleigh full of gifts or simply extending kindness to a stranger–we discover new reserves of strength. Like the Grinch, our hearts can grow two sizes in a single day.
Kindness doesn’t usually make such grand displays except in holiday cartoons. Instead, kindness makes itself real in the smallest of factions. A gentle smile. A listening earl. A warm reply. A door held open for a stranger. Kindness means doing someone else’s chores, filling a stranger’s gas tank, or running an errand for a neighbor. Such simple, everyday activities put kindness on display for the world to see, and they reveal hidden strength.
That’s why it should be no wonder kindness is attractive; it has a magnetic quality. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’” God’s kindness is part of a committed promise–his covenantal love–to us. This love tugs at our heartstrings and serves as an invitation to come into a closer relationship with him.
This idea of extending kindness is tested again and again for me. Sometimes I fare better than others. But the more I experience God’s abundant kindness, the more I fall in love with him and naturally want to express that love to others, regardless of the response.