Love Is kind
About the Guest
- Bob Lepine unpacks ten attributes of genuine love listed in 1 Corinthians 13 in his new book "Love Like You Mean It: The Heart of a Marriage That Honors God". https://shop.familylife.com/p-5890-love-like-you-mean-it.aspx
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Bob Lepine discusses godly love-a love that is patient and kind and filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Learn why niceness merely responds, but kindness initiates.
Love Is kind
Bob: Sometimes what can look like weakness in marriage isn’t weakness at all; it’s the opposite. Ann Wilson says she realized that as she watched her mom demonstrate patience and perseverance.
Ann: I remember, as a teenager thinking: “Come on, Mom! Have some backbone! You need to stand up to Dad! You need to not do this! You’re basically a slave!” As they continued in their relationship, I watched her, and I realized, “Oh, she is strong.” What I thought was weakness was strength; it was beauty; it was perseverance; it was patience; it was longsuffering. She just used her strength and she served all of us—it wasn’t just my dad; it was all of us in a way that would take your breath away.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, July 8th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Real love in marriage—love the way the Bible defines it—is a strength, not a weakness. We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m just sitting here, wondering, how far would we have to go if we asked people, “Describe Dave.” So Ann, if we asked people: “Describe Dave,”—
Dave: Let’s not.
Bob: —how far down the list would we have to go until “kindness” appeared as one of those descriptive words?
Ann: Oh, I think that would be toward the top.
Bob: Would that be near the top?
Ann: Yes! [Laughter]
Dave: I’ve been called many things—
Bob: “Kind” doesn’t usually—
Dave: I don’t think—I mean, I’ve been called competitive; does that go along with kind? [Laughter]
Bob : No.
Dave: —because not normally am I kind.
Bob: You don’t think of yourself as a kind person?
Dave: I think of myself as wanting to be a kind person.
Bob: Well, that’s a good thing.
Ann: The only time you’re not kind is when you’re driving. [Laughter]
Dave: Oh, yes. We don’t want to go there; I am not kind on the road.
Bob: The reason we’re talking about kindness is because this is one of the attributes of love that the Apostle Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13.
Dave: And we know somebody who wrote a book about this—a whole chapter of the Bible! [Laughter]
Ann: This is the best book you will read all year; this is an amazing book.
Bob: I’ve just finished a book called Love Like You Mean It, where we dive deep into
1 Corinthians 13 and think: “In marriage, what if these things were true about us? What if we were patient? What if we were kind? What if we did not insist on our own way? What if we were not resentful? What if we were not rude to one another?” These are all of the things that Paul uses to describe what genuine love looks like in 1 Corinthians 13.
I’m convinced that husbands and wives—their marriages would thrive—if they were saying: “I want this to be true about me and in how I interact with you. I want to be this kind of person.” If our biggest disagreement was: “I want to be more kind than you are,” “No, I want to be more kind than you are,”—[Laughter]—if that’s what you’re fighting about, we’d have a pretty good marriage.
Dave: Yes; and I have to say—we’ve been poking fun at you, because you wrote a book on marriage and you’re sitting here with us—but I have to be honest; as I read it, I thought, “This book can transform families.”
Dave: Because think about it—I know it’s your goal—if we could actually live out what God says love is—and there’s such a great description in 1 Corinthians 13; that’s why it’s such a famous passage—and yet, very few understand. Now, we’re going to say: “Okay, let’s read a book that helps us go, ‘This is more than a poetic reading at a wedding; this is a picture of godly, mature love,’” and “’If I started living that in our marriage, not only would our marriage be transformed”—think about this—“the neighbors would want our marriage.”
Dave: They would! So now the gospel’s being spread through our neighborhood, the city, the world; because a couple lives out godly love.
I just want to frame that, because that’s how powerful I think what you wrote is. Yes, we’re having fun looking at these words; but this love is kind. How many marriages/how many pictures of love being kind do we have?
Bob: It’s not what’s being held up as a model. I think some people mistake niceness for kindness. A nice person is a person who’s polite, a person who is gentle, a person who will be respectful of others. A kind person is somebody who proactively seeks to bless another person.
Kindness is not how we respond to other people; kindness is how we initiate with other people. It’s where we step in and say: “My goal in our interaction is for you to be blessed, for you to thrive, for you to flourish,” and “I’m going to proactively seek to do things that will make that happen,”—that’s a kind person.
Ann: What’s an example of that, Bob? What did that look like for you and Mary Ann?
Bob: I’ll give you a simple—this is just one of those simple, little mundane things—but Mary Ann and I were at a Weekend to Remember® getaway. Our friend, Tim Downs, was speaking. Tim said that he had, early on in his marriage, decided that one of the ways he could bless his wife was by making sure that her car was always full of gas/that she didn’t have to worry about stopping to get gas.
Now, I know some people are like, “Oh, so the man has to get the gas and a woman can’t?” No; it wasn’t that. He just wanted her not to have to worry about it, so he would proactively try to make sure that her car was always full of gas.
I remember I turned to Mary Ann and said, “Would that matter to you?” She goes, “Yes, that would be nice.” I thought, “Okay, that’s something simple I can do.” That’s just an act of simple service that says, “I want your life to be easier/I want your life to be better, so I will do things that help make that happen.”
Now, those are simple things. I’m trying to think on a bigger level: “How do we do the more profound things in each other’s lives that demonstrate a kind of lovingkindness?” Think about that word; that’s the word in the Old Testament that describes God more than any other term that’s used—His hesed is the Hebrew word—it’s His lovingkindness. The Bible says: “His lovingkindness is better than life.”
The Jewish people, if you went to them and said, “Do you know God is holy?”—they’d say, “Well, of course, God is holy.” “Well, you know that God is perfect?”—“Of course God is perfect.” “You know God is a God of lovingkindness?”—they’d go, “Wait; He’s that?!” I mean, we expect God to be high and lifted up, but a God who is full of lovingkindness? This is God who says, “I’m going to proactively seek to bring blessing to you, and I’m going to pour that out.”
That’s God’s character, and it should be our profound character to say, “I want you to be blessed.” I’ll give you an example. When the kids were little, Mary Ann wanted to go to Bible Study Fellowship in the evenings. That meant that, on a particular night, I was home taking care of the kids. Now, that’s what husbands do. In fact, my son tweeted out recently something; he said: “I’m taking care of the kids. I’m not doing my wife’s job; I’m being a dad.” This is what dads do. It’s not Mom’s job, and I’ve taken it over for a few hours; no, it’s my job, too. I didn’t look at it and say, “This is onerous”; but I was taking care of the kids that night so that she could be free to grow/to thrive spiritually.
I think kindness is a way, where we look at each other, and say: “I want that for you. I want you to be better; I want to bless you, so what can I do so that you’re blessed?”
Dave: I think one of the things you identified in the book—and we’re talking about it—is you think kindness is these grand gestures, you know? And yet, that is true—like I keep my vow; I honor my commitment—that’s being kind to my spouse; but it is these little—
Ann: —little acts of service even.
Dave: —that really, you walk away from a person and go, “They were so kind, because they took care of this little detail,”—like the gas.
I was thinking—I don’t know what Ann would say—when we had little boys, and it was chaos, one gift I gave her was, once a month, we called a Boys’ Day Out; and it was take the three little guys and go away for the day.
Ann: —where I could just stay home.
Bob: This is what’s interesting. Researchers have shown that the amount of kindness demonstrated in a marriage is the single greatest predictor of marital satisfaction and stability. If we look at each other and go, “You know, my spouse is a kind person,” who does not want to do forever with somebody who’s kind?
If there’s an absence of kindness—that’s the other side of this—if there’s a disregard, if we are unkind toward one another, if we’re not proactively seeking the good of others, then that’s the sandpaper that starts to rub holes in our marriage relationship and causes us to feel that low-level dissatisfaction that we go, “This is no fun for me.”
Ann: Well, you even say in the book that: “Kindness acts like a marital disinfectant.” What do you mean by that?
Bob: It means that the germs that can build up in just the day-to-day interaction with one another—and you feel that way—if you come home from the gas station, after feeling that way, and you walk in—and Dave is in the kitchen, and he’s just finished sweeping the kitchen, and it’s cleaned up—and he says, “Yes, I had a few minutes and I thought I’d just straighten up around here; because I know you’ve been busy,” all of a sudden, the grumbling you were doing at the gas station evaporates.
It’s not like you walk in and go, “Well, that’s all well and good; but if you had just filled up my…” No! You go, “Okay, he really is kind; he really is thinking about me. He really does love me.” Because that’s how—again, kindness is the expression of: “I’m committed to your good. I want to see blessing happen in your life.” Who does not want to do forever with a person like that?
Dave: Yes; how do we get that?—especially like back in our marriage—because I know, for many of us, it’s like I’m kind to the person that came to the door right after yelling at my kids and not being kind to my wife. Then the doorbell rings, and immediately you’re kind. That person will walk away from my front door and say, “Man, that guy was really kind.”
Bob: I would say you were nice; you were polite—
Dave: There you go.
Bob: —that’s different.
Kindness is an intentionality that says—think about it this way—if you woke up tomorrow morning, and you said: “Okay, what’s one thing I could do today that would be a proactive way of blessing my spouse?—something I could do that would serve or that would demonstrate love and care?—that would say, ‘I want to bless you’?”
If we just said, “I’ll do one thing a day that would do that,”—and if we understand what blessing looks like for our spouse—that might be you send them an affectionate text; it might be that you do an act of service; you know, we can get into love languages and how all of that manifests—but if you say, “My goal is to bless you today; what is one way that I can do that?” and then, “I’m going to do that, whether you bless me back or not.”
Ann: That’s big, right there.
Bob: If you do it and you go, “I blessed you for four days; you never did anything,”—no. You just have to say, “I want to be a loving person.” The Bible says God’s kindness leads us to what?
Bob: —repentance. I believe that our perpetual kindness toward another person— where we’re actively seeking to bless them—God can use that to break through the hardness of their heart and to bring them to a point, where they go: “I do not deserve the blessing that you are to me, and I need to change as a result. I need to be a different person.” It doesn’t always work; it’s not a magic formula. It’s not like, “Okay, if I do this for a month, then it’ll fix my spouse.” We’re responding to God’s kindness toward us by being kind toward others.
If you’re asking the question, “How do I develop kindness?” you reflect on the fact that you are the recipient of amazing kindness. God has demonstrated His lovingkindness; He blesses you. Now, He says, “Can you do this for others?” And you say: “Yes, Lord. I can do this. Look at how You have blessed me. I can be a blessing to others.”
Dave: What would you say is the opposite of kindness? Don’t say, “Unkind”; you’re not allowed to use that word. [Laughter]
Bob: Later on in the passage, it says love is not rude; it’s not irritable; and it’s not resentful. I think the opposite of kindness is rudeness, irritability, and resentment. I think Paul, later in the passage, is saying, again, “Be kind by not being rude, irritable, and resentful.” We have to seek to identify: “Am I rude? How do I manifest rudeness toward my spouse?” “Am I irritable?” “Am I resentful about things in my spouse?” and “How do I curb these?”
This is where: “How do I get rid of these and replace them with proactive goodness towards another person?” It’s not just, “I’m going to get rid of these, and then I’ll be kind,”—no. “I get rid of these, but I still have to cultivate proactive goodness toward another person.”
Dave: Yes; because one of the thoughts that came to my mind—tell me what you think, Bob—is one of the opposites of kindness is selfishness.
Bob: Oh, yes.
Dave: Because the only way I’m going to treat Ann kinder/even my neighbor is if I get my eyes off of me and think: “I really want to honor them,” “What would honor her today?”
What you said earlier is a great action step. What if every listener said: “Starting today” —day one of thirty days if you want to do a month—“I’m going to take my eyes off me. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘What is one thing I can do to bless and be kind to my spouse?’”
Ann: Well, the other thing I was thinking was: “If you don’t get any response back from a spouse—if you do these acts of kindness, and they have no response or say anything—here’s what I would say, too: ‘Don’t forget that this is almost like an act of worship to God. It’s not doing something to get something back from your spouse. This is an act of worship; and every single little thing you do, God sees it.’”
Ann: I was recently with four of our grandkids that range from age five to four months, and you talk about self-sacrificing. Their mom and dad, boy, they are just getting it done; and it is a hard phase of life.
I sit there and I remember, as a young mom, thinking, “I’m doing all these things, and nobody sees; nobody notices.” Yet I remember one day praying, and I said, “God, do You see me?” I felt like He said, “I see every act of kindness and serving that you’re giving to your family.” I feel like He’s always applauding us too.
Ann: He sees it; it’s an act of worship.
Bob: I think you’re exactly right. That’s where we have to ask the question: “Are we trying to cultivate love so that we can get something out of it?” or “Are we trying to cultivate love because God has demonstrated His love for us?”
This is what [Apostle] John says—he says, “Behold, the manner of love God has given to us.” That’s an interesting verse; this is 1 John 3:1. “Behold” means, “Look very carefully at this,” “Stare at this,” “Fix your eyes on this,” “Look deeply into this,”—“Behold.”
When it says “…the manner of love…” it says, “Behold the kind of foreign love like you’ve never seen from any place else,”—it’s an uncommon love. “Behold the uncommon love God has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”
Okay, so that’s how God’s loved us; His lovingkindness is better than life. For us to be kind and loving to other people is to say: “I’m the recipient of this. If I’m the recipient of this, I can now lavish love and kindness on you, not so that I get something in return, but because I’m a child of God. He has lavished love on me, and He’s called me to lavish it on you.”
Jesus loved us without an expectation of anything in return. Jesus loved us while we were still His enemies. Jesus loved us by giving Himself up—not saying, “Well, I’m going to love you for 30 days; and then, if you don’t turn around, I’m not going to keep loving you,”—that’s our picture; that’s our model.
Ann: It’s also one of the fruit of the Spirit.
Ann: Kindness is a result of being filled with God’s Spirit; it pours out of us as a result of that.
Bob: And it pours out if you have drunk in.
Ann: Yes, exactly.
Bob: That’s where—when we go, “I just don’t have any kindness left in me,”—then we go back to God and we drink it in: we meditate on His kindness toward us; and we go, “Oh, yes; I’m filled up with kindness, because God has been kind to me. I’m aware of this now. Now I can pour it out to others.”
Ann: What does that look like for you?
Bob: Well, it means that, when I’m spiritually depleted with any of the spiritual fruit—when I’m banging on empty; because I’m tired, or I’m drained, or whatever else—I have to take time to dig into God’s Word; I have to take time to worship; I have to take time in prayer—and to just stop and recalibrate my thinking about who God is, who I am, why I’m here, what matters most in life; “What’s my assignment?”—and then just think about that and go: “Okay; I needed that recalibration. Now I can get back in the game.” It can come out of me, now, more naturally; because I’ve spent time with the Lord, and He’s poured it into me.
Dave: I know, for me, there is no one—emphatically, no one in my life—kinder to me than this woman sitting right here to my left, my wife. She is beyond kind, and it’s amazing; because your spouse can be the one that will not be kind, because they see it all.
Dave: You know, other people that are kind to you, they walk up and they’re kind and you’re like, “That’s nice; they don’t really know the flaws.” She knows it all and speaks life/speaks kindness. You do, honey; it’s just amazing.
Ann: Thank you.
Dave: I also, Bob—what you just said—I know why—because I’m an amazing guy! [Laughter] No, that is not why.
I walk down every day, and I walk into the kitchen; and there she is with the Word of God, often on her knees, hands raised, singing/praising God, being filled up with the love and kindness of Christ in her life, and then she overflows it to me. It’s beautiful; it doesn’t happen apart from Christ.
Ann: I was going to say it’s because I’m desperate for Him, and I know that I can be mean.
Bob: We all can. That’s where the regular disciplines of the Christian life are how we go and make sure that we are perpetually filled up. This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit/to walk in the Spirit. It means that you spend time with God, filling you up: you’re aware of His presence; you’re aware of His power in your life; and when you are empty, you go to Him to get filled up. You don’t go to your spouse and say, “You need to fill me up so that I can pour some of this back on you,”—no. You go to the Lord, and He fills you up with this.
You know, my burden here, as I wrote this book, just continued to increase—first, for my own marriage—the more we press into God’s design for what love is supposed to look like, the better your marriage becomes. All of us have room to grow in this area. I mean, anybody who’s been married, like we have, more than four decades—or you’re just starting on the journey—there’s room to grow; there’s increased capacity for you to expand your love for one another in marriage.
When you do—when you start to align with what the Bible describes for real love—your marriage gets better. I promise; it gets better. Even if it’s, it gets better. If it has some rough spots, those start to get worked out as you start to do what the Bible says we’re supposed to do in how we love each other.
My hope/my prayer for this book is that this will help a lot of couples move to a new place in their marriage, where love deepens, where they move deeper into oneness with one another, and they experience the kind of real joy that comes with doing marriage God’s way/loving each other God’s way.
The book is called Love Like You Mean It. It has just released this week, and it’s available right now for order. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to get a copy of the book, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. There’s an e-book available; there’s an audiobook available. Again, if you’d like information about how to order any version of the book, Love Like You Mean It, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I think any time we look carefully at 1 Corinthians 13, we all kind of flinch; because we all fall short of the standard of love that’s described here. David Robbins, who’s the president of FamilyLife®, is with us. You’ve felt that as you’ve read through this passage, right?
David: Yes; I came into the studio confessing to you, “That was really convicting for me!” I love where you took us at the end, Bob; because so much transformation happens as we pursue kindness in our marriage. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.
David: I found myself listening, being convicted about how much I’m not pursuing really intentional, ruthless intentionality in being kind to Meg. I found myself praying an old spiritual breathing illustration and exercise I learned in college from Bill Bright. It’s that exercise of exhaling sin that God is convicting us of, and acknowledging God’s forgiveness of that sin; and then moving to depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit to inhale by appropriating the fullness of God’s Spirit by faith, trusting Him to control and empower me.
God has put His Holy Spirit inside of those of us who believe in Jesus so that we wouldn’t have to depend upon our own strength and our own efforts; so that we can constantly and continually draw from His divine resources to live with supernatural kindness, especially the relationships that matter most to us.
Bob: Boy, and it’s never been lost on me the fact that right in that passage, where Paul addresses marriage, in Ephesians, Chapter 5—just before he gets to talking about marriage—he says, “Be filled with the Spirit,”—because we can’t do marriage the way God wants us to unless we’re filled with the Spirit. Thank you, David, for that.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about really the opposite of what we’ve been talking about today. We’re going to talk about abuse in a family situation. Jennifer Michelle Greenberg is going to join us to talk about the family she grew up in—a churchgoing family with a dad, who was an elder in their local church—and who was coming home and abusing his daughter physically. It’s a sobering story. She joins us tomorrow to share her experience with this. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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