Surprised by Kindness

 If someone were to ask me to make a list of adjectives to describe God, it would probably go something like this: “Well, He is sovereign, loving, merciful, gracious, righteous, just, all-knowing, omnipresent, and triune.” I know that is not a definitive list, but it covers the basics of what I think when I think of God. None of the words on the list are bad or untrue, but when I read Romans 2 recently, I was amazed at a different word used to describe God. In the midst of a heavy rebuke on the Roman church in the end of chapter 1 through the beginning of 2, Paul writes,

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

I had to take a pause. The kindness of God leads you to repentance? This may not seem like an earth-shattering revelation, but it was for me.

When I think of people I would describe as kind, I think of the woman at the doctor’s office who lets me take the free candy intended for children even though I’m 22. I think of other people’s grandparents who over-compliment me and tell me I look like a princess. I think of the friends who offer to throw my trash away for me at a fast-food restaurant. When I think kind, I rarely think of the God of the universe, but that is just what He is! In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul puts it this way,

“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1: 5-6

Having read both of these passages, I started to notice the kindness of God in my life. It was in His kindness that He brought me to repentance. And in His kindness, He gave me His Word and an ability to read and study it. He has been so kind and patient with me as I have frantically tried to plan every detail of my life and watched those plans fall apart. He is so kind to be in a relationship with me, and to give me purpose and direction.

When I think of Paul’s life, I am reminded that God’s kindness is not the same as the woman at the doctor’s office. His kindness goes further. God was kind in calling Paul to himself on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). And God was kind to give him time to grow in his faith (Galatians 2). In God’s kindness, the Holy Spirit set Paul apart for the purpose of spreading the name of Jesus and planting churches (Acts 13). The Lord led him and let him suffer for the sake of the gospel (Ephesians 6:20). Paul’s life was not blissful and easy. He was shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, hated, and narrowly escaped many near-death experiences (2 Corinthians 11:24-30). But still, he is the one who wrote to the Romans and to the Ephesians, describing God as kind.

My small group at my church recently got together to celebrate Thanksgiving. As any good Thanksgiving gathering goes, we went around the room saying what we are thankful for. I love this season because it forces me to give pause and really consider the blessings in my life. This time around the table, I realized that what I am most thankful for is God’s kindness.

 
Kristina is a attends University of Georgia and is a Theater major. She first came to Transform Student Ministries as a Boot Camper, then, came back several years later as one of our Summer Interns, and has staffed at Boot Camp. Kristina loves the Lord with all her heart, and wants to follow Him fully! Her love for the Lord is contagious. 

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