Tag Archives: kindness

For The Love of God

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The husband had really messed up and he knew it. He sat there with his eyes downcast as he told his story. His wife had a real right to be hurt, angry and upset. But his story was not just a defensive explanation by someone who got caught in his misdeeds. It was a raw revelation of early pain, mistreatment and trauma that had been locked away for years. As he finished his story his wife put her hand on his arm and with tears in her eyes said “None of those things should have ever happened to you. You didn’t deserve any of it.” He broke down in tears and began apologizing in honest heartfelt words.

The above story is not one person’s story – but a composite of many that we have witnessed. The offenders have been both wives and husbands, men and women. But it does not always go so well. Sometimes the pain of the offense is too great to let go of in the moment. Sometimes the defensive walls are up too high to scale. But when there are soft hearts on both sides, the atmosphere is ripe for a relationship miracle.

Romans 2:4 “Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

I love the above scripture. Perhaps I can rework it to fit what I am trying to communicate.

“Do you not know that a spouse’s kindness can lead to their partner’s repentance?”

Kindness is grace in action. In situations like the one described it is an undeserved gift. It becomes an opportunity to radically change a marriage. But I need to add, it requires true sincerity and real change. It must not perpetuate a cycle of abuse or other sinful behaviors. You are not “off the hook.” Grace is not an unlimited “get out of jail free” card. Repentance means to “turn away from” – in this case, from the hurtful and harmful behavior.

How does an offended spouse choose to offer kindness in place of anger or rejection? It does not seem like a normal human reaction, and it isn’t. The most common reaction would be to pull back or strike back in pain, disgust or fear. I would say that it is only for the love of God that we can achieve this. If we truly understand our own failings that God has forgiven, we are more likely to be able to offer it to others.

Forgiveness is much easier for small offences, the ones that don’t affect our lives in any major way. When a serious one comes our way, that is when the strength of our faith and the softness of our heart is on the line. Yes, sometimes we have to pull back first and absorb the wound and work with ourselves with God and others. But if we can first forgive and then go and confront those who have hurt us, we are much more likely to offer kindness instead of shame or blame. Can you do that? For the love of God?

Are You in a Relationship with a Mean Cat?

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Somewhere around third grade I remember visiting a friend from school. He had cats; our family had dogs (and rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, fish and turtles). We loved our pets – they were a significant part of our upbringing. But I wasn’t familiar with cats, and so I was shocked when my friend’s cat turned from purring as I stroked it, to sinking its teeth in me. I’m not talking about a friendly nip, but an aggressive chomp. But as surprised and angry as I was, retaliation was not an option that I considered.

I bring this up because I think kindness to animals is a good indicator of character.

There are psychological disorders where cruelty to animals can be a symptom – Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is one and so is Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy). This disregard for animals may eventually translate into abuse (emotional or physical) towards you or those you love. People with these disorders lack empathy. They are not able to identify with the pain of others and so may inflict it carelessly or even with delight! This might be something that can be overlooked or ignored when evaluating a relationship. I’m not implying that you should be looking for and diagnosing a disorder, but rather being aware of unusual behavior.

I also have concerns about people who hold the value of an animal above or at the same level as people. I believe somewhere along the way they have picked up hurts that have not been resolved. Although God has given life to both humans and animals, He has given a special position to those who have been made in His image.

I have always maintained that another good predictor of character is the way a person treats people who serve them, whether a wait person in a restaurant, an employee or a public servant. I watch people in positions of power to see how they care for people. Does the person you are dating have a natural demeanor of humility or do they seem to think of themselves as better than others? It’s possible that they may see you as inferior in time, and will treat you accordingly.

We can be confused by what we may view as “high standards” in a person, when in reality it is really a critical spirit or an arrogant attitude. Good character displays good values, and good values include kindness and acceptance of others. Harshness is the result of a cold and unforgiving heart.

I have friends that naturally seek out those who might normally be disregarded by others, and treat them as equals. I really admire that quality in them. I believe they experience life and love at a deeper level. Their hearts are tuned to a different frequency than most people. You might say they are tuned to a “God frequency”. They take the gift of compassion to a whole new level.

I think this is a good verse to use for these kinds of evaluations:

Romans 12:3 – For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.