"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness." I Galatians 5:22
I got a journal in college, and I had to laugh when the inspirational inscription inside quoted Galatians 5:22. The last two attributes of the fruit of the Spirit--gentleness and self-control--were cut off, I'm assuming inadvertently. My roommate joked that it was perfect for me--I wasn't exactly known for my gentleness.
By nature I am a truth-teller. People in high school who were friends didn't like telling me if they started dating someone, because without question I would analyze their dating compatibility and then tell them what I thought of their decision.
I've gotta be honest. I don't think this is a good match for you. Is this God's best for you?
And most times, I was right--my friends had terrible taste in dating partners. I could see all the ways their personalities could clash and how their beliefs didn't line up and that it would just end in heartbreak. So I told them the truth. Bad idea. Don't date that person.
I thought that's what I was supposed to do. Speak the truth in love, right? I told them things honestly because I genuinely cared about them. But being right was more important than being kind.
I didn't get that an important aspect of truth is the relationship in which it is shared.
My friend Heather texted me last week:
Do you think it's more important to be truthful, or to be kind?
At first, I was inclined to answer truthful. But the more I thought about it, I decided it was more important to me to be kind.
If I know one thing, it's that God is kind.
Over the past 10 years, God has convinced me deeply that he is kind. The kindness of God is a treasure to me, even to the point where I have been told that my whole persona changes when I talk about it. My voice gets quiet and soft, and I say the words "God is so kind" with delight and joy as I reflect on his tenderness toward me.
That doesn't mean that he doesn't have hard conversations with me. But the truth that he speaks is always soaked in kindness. They are inseparable--these two attributes of God.
He is truthful and he is kind. And the truth that he speaks to me sometimes hurts, but it is a severe mercy.
I learned something about physics today that made me think about kindness and truth, and it has to do with the nature of light, and whether a cat in a box is dead or alive. But suffice it to say, that it is a great paradox that light is both a wave and a particle, but somehow it is true. (Here's a photo of it!)
God is both kind and true. His kindness is infused with his truth to the point that you can't have kindness without truth, and his truth is infused with his kindness to the point that you can't have truth without kindness.
What does God's voice sound like to you?
Maybe it sounds harsh, because that's how you've always been spoken to. It's hard to keep listening to a voice that always sounds disappointed and mad. (Did you know that God's not disappointed with you?)
But I think, if you can listen with a softened heart, even for just a moment, you will hear his voice soft and tender, like a mother comforting her beloved child on a stormy night.
(For more discussion on this, make your way to my Facebook page and check out what my smart and savvy friends are saying!)