Don’t settle for cultural kindness

Don’t settle for cultural kindness

Kindness seems to be everywhere these days. It’s affixed to garden boards and granola bars, t-shirts and posters for your home. Although kindness is not new, “Be kind!” it has become an unofficial slogan, the currency on which a culture steeped in tolerance, affirmation and acceptance functions.

But for all the talk of kindness, our world is becoming increasingly cruel, divided, and contemptuous. If kindness is so popular, why is our culture so harsh? Perhaps you lack that kind of kindness, pretending to do and be good and incapable of producing real change. In a world that is hungry for goodness but often finds only emptiness, we must look to Scripture and the author of goodness to teach us what goodness really is.

rooted in love

Cultural kindness is more about tolerance, being kind, and putting up with differences without complaining than it is about love. It only asks us to be nice to those who are different from us – it doesn’t call us to love them. When kindness exists without love, it quickly becomes insincere, something we do because we must. But kindness without love is not kindness. It’s an imitation.

When kindness exists without love, it quickly becomes insincere.

This is the problem with cultural goodness. He offers kindness and acceptance from others while putting on the facade of love. But at best it is mild tolerance and at worst it is hate with a smile.

In contrast, biblical goodness—true goodness—is always rooted in God’s steadfast, self-sacrificing love. He is “righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Ps. 145:17). He is “merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in kindness” (Neh 9:17, NASB95).

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In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word chess, which means benevolence, is used to describe how God relates to his people. It is also this loving kindness that he desires from his people in response to his own. As he says in Hosea 6:6, “I desire constant love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God instead of burnt offerings.” Mere kindness – burnt offerings and sacrifices that pass through the motions of loveless devotion – do not please God.

Contrary to cultural goodness, chess captures the constant, sacrificial love of God who refuses to abandon a people who are radically different from him, who irritate him, who fail him repeatedly. Biblical kindness, therefore, must be rooted in this kind of covenant love that endures at all costs. Our kind God does not just tolerate or bear with us in disgust. He loves us with a fierce kindness that is more committed to our own well-being than we are.

not always pleasant

Divine goodness is rooted in God’s covenant love that seeks the flowering of his creation. But true human flourishing comes when humanity lives in submission and obedience to our Creator. Because God’s covenant love is always aimed at transforming a sinful people into a holy nation, godly kindness is not always pleasant.

Being kind in our culture means that we rarely disagree. We live in a nation where outrage trumps listening and understanding, and disagreement means resignation. Any number of current events can prompt Facebook posts that say something like, “If you don’t condemn ___, we’re not friends anymore.” While the condemnation of injustice is valid, these posts reveal how cultural goodness rigidly responds to disagreement: it cancels.

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Cancel culture is the attempt at justice for cultural goodness. While the desire to right what went wrong is good, kindness without love will lead to justice without love. We will be content to settle for dismissal because our kindness has never been more than kindness. It’s not driven by wanting to get to know someone else, it’s not fierce enough to engage in difficult conversations, it’s not deep enough to work on restoring a broken person.

Not so for biblical goodness – God’s goodness is destined to lead [us] to repentance” (Rom 2:4). Divine goodness confronts us in love so that we may be conformed to his image. Because he loves us and wants us to flourish, God’s unwavering goodness will challenge us, tell us when we are wrong, and change us. That’s why the psalmist says, “The righteous strike me, it is kindness” (Ps 141:5). It is kindness when God corrects, rebukes, and convinces us because he loves us enough to see that we can become mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:4), and receiving our inheritance as his children.

Godly kindness confronts us in love so that we may be conformed to its image.

While cultural kindness leads to cancel culture “justice,” godly kindness leads to restorative justice through truth-telling, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. This is why Paul declares, “Behold, therefore, the kindness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22, NASB95). God is not interested in kindness; he is interested in bringing many children to glory. And in his goodness, he certainly will.

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call to kindness

God the Father sent Jesus Christ to extend to us the supreme goodness: our salvation (Titus 3:4). But in Christ, we are also set apart to be transformed into his likeness through the Spirit who produces godly fruits in our lives—fruits like goodness (Gal 5:22). This one it is the call placed upon God’s chosen people to clothe themselves in divine goodness so that we may be filled with love in all our interactions, caring for the welfare of others and speaking the truth in love in the same way our heavenly Father does. .

In John 8, a woman is caught in adultery. Her crime deserves death and the community is ready to comply. But Jesus shows his kindness. He kneels beside her, protects her, and reminds the crowd that they are not all that different. But he also doesn’t say her actions don’t matter. He calls her to repentance and obedience when he says, “Go, and sin no more from now on” (John 8:11). May we grow in this kind of divine goodness in a world that desperately needs the goodness of our Savior.

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About the Author: Steven Wiliem

A writer who is reliable in conveying information to the public who has a lot of interest in journalism.