Arrogance is overpowering. It’s deafening. It’s painful. It’s damaging to those around you. These are all things I know but here me when I say on my best day I don’t care at all.
For far to long I’ve relished my identity of someone who moves in silence. I’ve been moving in silence alright. So silent God hasn’t heard my voice much. We’ve heard it said that real G’s move in silence but real prideful people do too.
People say admitting your issues is the first step in recovery. It usually comes after mass amounts of denial. We all have acceptable sins. The sins we classify as easier to express. The sins that are easier to deal with. The ones that come with the least amount of shame. The ones where the image you spend your days carefully crafting can still survive. I’ve spent years walking the tight rope between carefully crafted identity and failing fragile facade. This has led to sin of all kinds, distractions, and drowning myself in sorrows alone. When you spend more time hiding yourself than you do seeking God you lose your footing. You become discontent. You become shackled to chains that were broken on the cross. How this looks can be different from person to person but for me it was the green eyes. Eyes coated with envy. Envy of things that I wanted that everyone else around me seemed to have. You can't love people rightly when you’re too busy wanting and idolizing the very people they are. I wasn’t jealous of material things. I don’t want people’s families, fame, or fortunes. I most envied freedom. The confidence to be yourself. The strength to be vulnerable. The love for self that allows you to walk without shame. The beauty of really believing what God says about you. The faith to know that your prayers matter. The fierceness to trust the giftings of God. The hope that makes you trust Godly community. But I wasn’t that woman. I’m learning to be her but it took me awhile. Envy has robbed me of a lot over the years. Envy has no place in relationship. Envy weighs your heart down even when the things you envy are things you should rightfully desire. Envy paralyzes your command to love.
Scripture says, “ ….love does not envy or boast” 1 Corinthians 13:4
Loving people requires you to be genuine and you can’t do that when you’re envious. Even when the things you’re envious of are good things they change your view of your surroundings. Have you ever had the need to subtly insult someone? To be petty? To exclude someone? To throw shade on their victories? This is envy. It may be difficult to articulate. It may be even harder to accept but acknowledging the deceit in your heart is a required step towards freedom.
Envy unchecked becomes a slow catalyst to a constant flow of unloving decisions. Envy jades our hearts toward people we are commanded to love. If I envy you I stop encouraging you for fear your success will overshadow mine. I stop fighting for you so I can remain a champion. I stop being your cheerleader because I’m no longer on the same team. I stop being a safe confidant because I’d rather tear you down. I stop being dependable because I abandon your need for support. I stop being sacrificial because I’m more concerned with my feelings than your well being. I stop bearing your burdens because I want you to cave under pressure.
None of this is how we were created to deal with God’s creation. We are called to pursue one another in love. Pursuit of love is active. It is diligent. It is a constant will to do better and be better. Fight to be open and honest. Trade in your green eyes for Christ eyes. Be ruled by love and not envy. Seek to love others enough to confess your envy and to let it go.
No Envy. No Lies. Just Love.
- Jenean Elizabeth
I’ve wanted to be many things in my life but kind was never on the list. I pride myself on being intelligent, reliable, loving, dependable, witty, competent, and so many other attributes. My mental picture of who I should be has never included kind. Kindness has always been associated with weakness for me. I know people who are kind without hesitancy, but do I immediately associate these people with success, strength, or intellect. I think not. Mainstream society has given me phrases like: “nice guys finish last’, and“don’t take my kindness for weakness”, it’s a wonder anyone strives for kindness. Jaded, ill informed, and encouraged to be less than humane I succumbed to being a jerk. This is not the storyline I ascribe to have. Renewal of mind is necessary. I had been given a false narrative on kindness. I must now seek earnestly to understand what kindness is.
1 Corinthians 13:4 states, “ Love is patient and kind”
Let’s break this down practically.
- We know from Scripture that God is love. God tells us that Kindness is also a characteristic of love. This makes it an attribute of the creator. God has been kind to us in many tangible ways. He gave us life, he gave us eternal life, he gives us grace, mercy, and relationship with him. We can rely on the knowledge of God’s loving example to know that being kind to people is not only something He commands but something he embodies. In the struggle to be kind remembering how God has been kind to us will be helpful. No matter what you have been told don’t believe the lie. Being kind is what God wills as part of our love to all people.
- We don’t have a choice. If we belong to God then kindness is apart of the cross we take up daily. It is an integral aspect of our mission to die daily to our flesh and live for and in Him. Kindness is not based on how you feel. You don’t have to feel like being kind. You don’t have to agree with being kind. You don’t get to decide who is worthy of your kindness. What you get to do is be obedient. You get to trust that God’s kindness is His stated will and that it won’t change. He will always be commanding you to kind to each of His creations.
- Between the many people who will discourage you. Your flesh’s natural inclination toward self, and misguided counsel being unkind is easy. The real strength is in standing for righteousness especially in being kind. You will have to fight to overpower what is easily your nature. The war within will be vicious but the growing pains of learning kindness toward your fellow man is character and strength building. Taking the high road when you can be callous, initiating kindness, seeking ways to go above and beyond will train your spirit in unmatched ways. Kill the unbelief that has set in about kindness.
- Kindness isn’t about you. It is about God. It is about serving. It is about leading. It is about whomever the kindness is being bestowed upon. If you can remove yourself from the equation kindness can become a way of life. It doesn’t matter if the person was kind to you, or if they will be in return. What matters is that you believe when God calls you to be kind He is called you to love people in a way that denies self. He is calling you to be aware of humanity and showing kindness as often as you can to others.
- Counter Cultural
- Culture teaches us to be self centered, ambitious, look out for your star player, put yourself first, and many other common things. Kindness will call you to put some of these things on the back burner. This doesn’t mean seeking to reach your goals, or to aim for good achievements is sin. This means that you as a believer shouldn’t step on other people to get there. It means that you have to be willing to go against the grain. You will have leaders, mentors, friends, and even fellow believers discourage you in kindness. Culture and people aren’t the standard. Jesus is the standard. Let his example guide your view of kindness above all.
Kindness is love in its purest form. If we are called to be Christlike we are called to kindness. This is a daily wrestle that I am learning to view properly. It doesn’t matter how people perceive my kindness. It doesn’t matter if I feel like pushover. It doesn’t matter if I receive kindness in return. It doesn’t matter if I believe this person is worthy. It doesn’t matter if I agree with God’s call to be kind moment to moment. What matters is that I submit all of that in submission to the Lord. Be encouraged that He is here willing and working in your through his loving kindness. His kindness enables you to be kind to others.
Be Loving. Be Faithful. Be Kind.
- Jenean Elizabeth
The measure of your patience is not necessarily only in how much you succeed but in a willing heart submitted to God. It is often hard for me to display this to people because I don’t want to. There are times when I simply fail but there are other times when I stand in my own way. I stand in God’s way. Instead of allowing Him to love His people and reflect His character through me I choose myself and sin.
My salvation didn't come with strings and shortcomings so community shouldn't either. So when people fail me I should cut them right? Wrong.
Stop pushing your single brothers to pursue every woman that comes around who meets the requirement. Although many may perceive this as a sign of encouragement, it isn’t always encouraging. Honestly, it opens the door for many things: discontentment and fantasy being just two of them.
But, there is another type of heartbreak the scriptures don’t directly mention that is a reality, particularly for single men- The heartbreak of pursuing a woman.