DayBreaks for 9/18/15: Something More than Mere Kindness
From the DayBreaks archive, September 2005:
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about happiness and God and His purposes, about suffering and evil and how that all fits together with God. And one of the common thoughts that I’ve run into is that God didn’t create an evil world…He did create beings with the potential for evil and He had to if He were to have a creation in which real love could exist. You can’t coerce love or it isn’t love – it’s intimidation, or something other than love by definition. No, love must be freely chosen and freely given and received. And for that to happen, the choice for sentient beings had to be made available.
And yet we sometimes have a very distorted idea of God. We sometimes wish, in the middle of our sinning, that we wish God would approve of what we’re doing, that He’d give it His big heavenly stamp of approval. C.S. Lewis put it this way in The Problem of Pain: “What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of the day, ‘a good time was had by all.’” We somehow think that such would be what a God of love would be like – kind and benevolent.
Lewis goes on and draws a difference between love and kindness. Love, he says, is “something more stern and splendid than mere kindness…Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering…If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt.”
It is possible to be kind but full of contempt. It is not possible to be loving and full of contempt. Love, God’s love, insists on making us better than we are (although He loves us just as we are) because it is what is best for us. Kindness isn’t worried about making someone better – only about doing some kind deed to minimize discomfort.
As you think about how you relate to others, are your relationships more concerned with kindness or with love?
PRAYER: I am thankful for Your kindness, Lord, but even more thankful for Your love! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.