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Learning from Opposites

We can learn even more about kindness when we look at its opposites. For instance one of the opposites of showing kindness is arguing. Certain behaviors signal to us that we are not walking by the Spirit or prac­ticing God’s kindness, and one of those flashing red lights is arguing. In 2 Timothy 2:24, Paul says that the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all. Therefore, when you or I find ourselves striving or quarreling, arguing or quibbling, we can be sure that this behavior “is not that which comes down from above” (James 3:15), but is instead coming from our own flesh.

Galatians 5:20 even lists strife, disputing, and dissension among the evil deeds of the flesh.

Imagine the home… the office… or the church without any arguing! And imagine the same energy that contention, strife, and arguing consume channeled toward kindness instead. Exactly what would you and I have to do to help make that happen? Here’s a short list.

  • Love others more than ourselves.
  • Care for the comfort and welfare of others more than our own.
  • Consider others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • Forego quarreling.

Matthew 11:28-30 helps us gain even greater insight into kindness from another pair of opposites. Speaking words of comfort to His followers, Jesus issues a gentle invitation: “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy [that is, kind], and My load is light.”

It’s helpful for us to under­stand that a yoke was a wooden frame placed upon a person’s shoulders that was meant to make his load easier to carry. However, if the load was unequally distributed or simply too heavy, that yoke would begin to chafe and rub and wear the person down. Here Jesus is contrasting His yoke and the burden He asks His followers to bear with the yoke of trying to keep all of the rules laid upon the Jews by Israel’s teachers, and He says that His yoke is “easy”— which is the same word as “kind.” In fact, one scholar translates the verse “My yoke is kindly.”

I have to admit that the vividness of this mental image caused me to ask some hard questions about my relation­ships with others—and maybe you would like to do the same. For instance, what is it like to be yoked with me at home, on a committee, in a project, or in a ministry? Am I an asset to those around me, a person who doesn’t chafe? Am I easy to be with and kind, a person who makes it easier for other people to bear their burdens?

Or am I an additional burden which others must bear, causing their yoke to chafe and rub, making it more difficult for them to pull their weight because they are yoked to a harsh, quar­relsome, wearisome woman? Do my manner and lack of kindness chafe, rub, and wear others down? Kindness means making life easier for others—not harder—just as Jesus makes your life and mine easier.

A Prayer to Pray:

Lord, I want to live like one who is truly transformed. I want to be a joy, not a burden, to those I am yoked to. I want to be a woman who shines with kindness, authenticity, integrity, and a deep understanding of Your truth.

For more encouragement for a woman’s soul, read A Woman’s High Calling, where you will find God’s 10 most important priorities for women – priorities that reveal the character qualities that He values most.

Read Learning from Opposites on Elizabeth & Jim George.


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