Lovingkindness

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast” (1 Cor. 13:4).

- 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a

The New Testament contains many lists of the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of all genuine Christians (for example, Gal. 5:22–23; Col. 3:12–17). This fruit demonstrates that we possess saving faith, and it becomes evident in our lives as we grow to maturity.

Before we discuss some of this fruit a bit further, we should pause for a moment and remind ourselves that although we must evidence all of the fruits of the Spirit, Paul is not giving us a strict checklist by which we can quantify our level of maturity. In fact, though the various fruits of the Spirit can be distinguished from each other on some level, each fruit actually flows into, and shares traits with, all of the other ones. If we have a proper understanding of one fruit, we can then see how it compares to, and reflects, another fruit.

This is especially true of the fruit of love. In Galatians 5:22, Paul lists love, patience, and goodness as if they were all totally separate virtues. But in 1 Corinthians 13:4, Paul lists both patience and kindness as being aspects of true love ­— the love that abides forever.

There are many ways in which we can see that love includes both patience and kindness. First of all, the character of God manifests the reality that kindness must flow from love. Titus 3:4–5 tells us that the kindness of God toward His people is a “loving kindness.”

This kindness is not to be divorced from strength. God is almighty and governs all things with power and majesty. Yet, He governs His people with kindness, as well. We can see this, for example, when He convicts us of sin. He may bring chastisement upon us that seems painful for a time, but He never allows His displeasure to destroy us if we are His children. Rather, He kindly restores us (Ps. 23:3), guaranteeing that we will never fall away from His kingdom.

Scripture elsewhere teaches that love is patient (for example, 2 Peter 3:9). For instance, God does not always chastise us for sin right away but often gently prods us to repent before He sends harsher discipline our way. Our relationships also tell us that true love is patient. When we love somebody, we are generally more willing to overlook flaws with patience. And if we are able to do such, how much more able and patient is our covenant God who demonstrates perfect love for us?

Coram Deo

Are you patient and kind? Does your love for others bear all things and build others up? Or, do you think you are doing things in love that are actually destructive? Look at your life and see if there is someone with whom you have not been patient or kind. Go and make amends, asking God to grant you more patience and kindness.

Passages for Further Study

Prov. 21:21
Zech. 7:8–10
Luke 8:15
1 Tim. 1:16

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