When Karen and I have done pre-marriage counseling, we talk about a lot of things, communication, kids, sex, but there is always one theme, one foundational focus, one earnest word of advice, one hope for the couple, that they would practice and know kindness.
In 26 years of marriage, we’ve discovered that kindness is the key to everything. It unlocks every good thing, encourages every future hope, heals every past pain, disarms anger, dismantles distrust, softens a hard heart; kindness believes and empowers and reveals all that is beautiful and lovely.
Just so, unkindness will destroy a marriage, a family, a friendship, a generation… unkindness works like yeast in the dough, it infiltrates every aspect of our lives. It’s a poison with only one remedy, repent…
And unkindness can be subtle, like a sigh, or body language, or how I speak to the dog. Yeah, I know it well, I’ve been unkind more than I like to admit. But thank God for the remedy; I can repent! I can ask forgiveness, I can be transformed…
And I do repent, “Father, I repent today. I thank you for your kindness, I ask that you would permeate my heart with the kindness you have for me, for my loved ones, for all those I meet today, all I come across on social media. I want to be an expression of Your kindness to me. I receive, I give, I repent, wholeheartedly. I change my mind and align my will with my reconciled heart. I will not let unkindness make a home in me. Amen.”
I have learned that any hope of an authentic and beautiful life is lost through the justification of unkindness.
And I have also learned that the opposite is true, everything can be made whole through kindness.
“Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?” (Rom 2:4)
It’s kindness that changes our minds and there is none kinder than our beautiful friend and savior, Jesus.
It is His kindness that opens us to new thoughts, that empowers us to visit our bias, reimagine our world through hope, confront our fearful hearts with perfect love. It’s His kindness that overcomes our violent defenses and settles our deepest insecurities.
It’s His kindness that exposes our arrogance and hypocrisy, that knocks us off our high horses; the same kindness that knocked Paul on his ass exposing his elite violent unkindness toward God’s beloved.
And it’s His kindness that enlightens our ignorance and challenges broken ideology, and oppressive theology, that gently reveals resurrection life; the same kindness shown on a road to Emmaus when God hid Himself so His beloved could discover union.
It’s the kindness of a friend who gave Himself up to our violent delusions, experiencing death on behalf of our ignorance and hate; not once holding it against us.
It’s kindness that empowers repentance. And we are transformed when we respond to this kindness.
Do not be conformed to this (unkind) world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (See Rom 12:2)
It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance, to changing or renewing our mind; and this is when we are transformed.
If kindness isn’t the foundation of a thought, if it is not the soil a belief system grows in, then there is no repentance and we can’t experience transformation. And without transformation, there is no way to live an authentic and whole life.
How does a person step away from shame and condemnation if every thought they have toward themselves is unkind? They can’t.
How does a person experience trust or hope of union if every thought they have toward those they disagree with is unkind? They can’t.
It’s why kindness is Karen and my foundational advice to couples who desire to experience the dream of union as a reality. Oneness is impossible without it.
It’s Christmas, the season of giving and receiving, a season that celebrates hope; the birth of Kindness displayed in flesh and blood.
We pray you would know kindness today in every way; that you would know you are His beloved and also His expression.
Jason and Karen
Some of this article is excerpted from my forthcoming book, Leaving (& Finding) Jesus
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