Communicable Attributes: How Kind of You !

Sharon Sampson

Kindness is one of God’s communicable attributes, those He shares with humans in some measure. We use the word often when we speak of a kind person or a kind gesture.

THE SOURCE OF KINDNESS

If we are called to emulate God’s character, we must go to the Teacher himself. We must be thoroughly acquainted with the kindness of the Lord, which is very much tied to his goodness and mercy. The Psalmist says, “The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works,” and “The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Ps. 145:13,17). We see in these verses a connection between who God is and what he does.

Those who are the best models of kindness are those who understand, model, and wisely teach others what the Teacher Himself has taught. As Paul reminded Timothy, “the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach,” etc. (2 Tim 2:24). We are told of the Proverbs 31 woman, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Prov. 31:26).

THE APPLICATION OF KINDNESS

We are called to “trust in the Lord and do good” (Ps. 37:3). David gave us a wonderful example in 2 Samuel 9:1 when he said, "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"

Kindness must express itself in action. This might include providing for the needy (Ps. 68:10), offering hospitality, even when needed on a moment’s notice in the cold and rain (Acts 28:2), or when kindness means sharing one’s trouble (Phil. 4:14).

We also show kindness when we are invited to share the gospel and we, like Peter when he was invited by Cornelius, are “kind enough to come” (Acts 10:33).

THE REQUIREMENT OF KINDNESS

In a former post, I reflected upon the idea that we often desire God’s incommunicable attributes (like his omnipotence and omniscience). It’s interesting to consider, on the other hand, how often we want to run from the attributes the Lord expects of us. Paul reminds us, however, that we must “put on kindness” (Col. 3:12) and be kind, since “love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4).

One aspect of kindness is mercy and forgiveness. God shows “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7), and when a brother sins against us, repents, and seeks our forgiveness, we also are to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave [us] (Eph. 4:32).

And as the Lord is good to all and has compassion on all he has made (Ps. 145:9), so we must “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).

THE CAUTION OF KINDNESS

We must remember, however, the source and example of our kindness and what kindness is not. Psalm 119:65 says, “You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word.” Our kindness toward others shouldn’t be any less or any more than the kindness we see in Scripture. We need to make sure we don’t equate God’s kindness with getting what we want. Nor should we equate the kindness we show to others with giving them what they want. We need a truthful, Word-centered kind of kindness.

Our kindness should never mean failing to point people to Christ or failing to help a brother see his sin. "Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart” (Zec. 7:9-10). Likewise, let us never turn our backs on the kind correction of a friend and call it unkind. We are reminded in Psalm 141:5, “Let a righteous man strike me-- it is a kindness; let him rebuke me-- it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.”

SUMMARY

As Christians, we should never be discouraged by the commands of Scripture, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). We can ask the Lord to grow this kindness, this fruit of the Spirit in us, knowing that he is faithful to complete the work he starts (Phil. 1:6).

Sharon L. Sampson holds an MTS with a biblical counseling concentration from the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. She is a certified biblical counselor and is an active member of the Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Mark, since 1985, and they have one married daughter.