The word lovingkindness intrigues me. “Loving” I understand. “Kindness” is obvious. But why the two together? Aren’t they mutual? If you’re loving, you’ll be kind; if you’re kind, you’ll be loving. How can you have one without the other? How is lovingkindness different from the definition of loving or kindness? I turned to Webster for help.
Kindness: friendly, generous, warm-hearted, sympathy, understanding, humane, considerate, forbearing, tolerant, generous, good-hearted, tender, considerate
Lovingkindness: tender and benevolent affections
How do I wrap my mind and understanding around this attribute when I read of God’s judgment, fury, and anger toward the rebellious? How do I become the object or recipient of His affection? Can I really earn it? We’re taught: “No, it’s all one-sided. We love Him because He first loved us.” Without His initiation, we would not respond to Him.
But my part is necessary too. It’s not just one-sided. It’s not that I earn His love, but that I respond to His. I don’t turn away from, but toward, His love. He has offered me relationship. And when I embrace it and accept it, He responds back in relationship—and lovingkindness.
When someone spurns God’s love, He is patient, kind, and tender. He continues to woo and invite. But at some point (God knows the heart and the intents), He must exact consequences or punishment or judgment. That is His right.
If someone spurns the love I offer, I can leave him or her in God’s hands and turn away. But when someone spurns God’s love, knowing the consequences thereof, they have no one to blame but their own choices.
I can experience all of God’s lovingkindness or benevolence. It’s there for my heart. But I have to do my part and turn toward the warmth and light, not away from it.