In March of 2007, I met and fell in love with a girl named Sarah Hart. Very soon after that, when I couldn’t hold it inside a second longer, I told her that I loved her and I wanted to marry her. Because we lived two states apart the entire time we dated and all the way through our engagement, most of our hanging out was done via mobile phone. Needless to say, we talked a lot. Sometimes we talked on the phone all night long, and I remember telling her over and over and over, probably to the point of exhaustion, that I loved her; but I just couldn’t help it! And anyone who knows our story knows that it was a whirlwind six months from the time we met to the day we got married.
I love Sarah, and I love the story the Lord wrote for us; but for the sake of discussion, let me ask this question: what would’ve happened if I had only said I love you without ever doing anything to prove it? I know it is very special to hear those words in the beginning of a relationship, and, of course, it still is today. But what if I had never proposed, never given her a ring, and never made a vow at the altar with her by my side? Words become meaningless if there are never any actions to back them up. Somewhere along the way, Sarah would have started to wonder if I really meant what I was saying. A year or two of that and, well, I don’t even want to imagine how that sad story would have ended. I like the real version much better. In the real version, I did propose; and I also bought her the fattest diamond I could afford. Some people who don’t go in for that kind of “bling” might find fault with that saying, “A ring like that is all for show.” My answer to them is,
“You’re exactly right.”
I bought the biggest diamond to show her how honored and ecstatic I was to be the man who would marry her. You might be surprised to find out that God Himself is all about The Show.
Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another, and people love hypocritically when their I love yous don’t come with any action to back them up. Simply put, hypocrisy is all talk and no show. This is why our Father was not content to just yell loudly from heaven, “I love y’all!” His I love you came with proof. God so loved the world, and He is no hypocrite. There was no way He was going to say it without showing it.
One of the biggest promises Jesus ever made is found in John 14:21: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” The Amplified Bible says the last part of that verse like this: “I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]” Every man, woman, and child are in need of this one thing: a manifestation of Jesus. A manifestation is simply something that can be clearly seen—a revelation, a show. So what does the lost man need? He needs to see Jesus his Savior. What does the sick man need? He needs to see Jesus his Healer. Every need of every man is met in the revelation of the person of Jesus, for in Jesus is the revealing of God Himself. In John 14:9, Jesus says it like this: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus is, if you will, The God Show. He is God on display, and He is inviting every one of us to come see. Notice in this verse the inseparable connection between “I will love him” and “I will manifest Myself to him.” This is our invitation to The Love Show.
our Father was not content to just yell loudly from heaven, “I love y’all!” His I love you came with proof.
First Corinthians 13 is perhaps the most well-known passage of Scripture on the love of God. It is in this chapter that love, the most powerful force in the universe, is summed up in two words: patient and kind. The rest of the chapter is about what love does, what love doesn’t do, and what love is not. Only these two words are needed to define what it is. When we talk about kindness, we are not merely describing God; we are defining Him. Kindness is manifested love. It’s the part of love that you can see. Titus 3:4-5 nlt says, “But—‘When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.’” The New King James Version says that His love and kindness “appeared toward man.” For generations, God had been trying to tell mankind that He loved us, but when He sent Jesus, through His kindness we could see how much He loved us.
In 2 Samuel 9 we see an account from the kingship of David that, I believe, is a profound revelation of the heart of God, and it serves as proof of the life-changing power of kindness. In verse one David asks, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” When they summon a servant from the house of Saul, David asks him, “Is there not still someone from the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” God had been kind to David, and he knew it better than anyone. Two chapters before this, we see where God promises to build David a house, make his family great, and establish his throne forever. David is overwhelmed by the mercy and kindness of God towards him, and here we see that same side of God coming out in his unrelenting desire to show kindness to someone, anyone, from the house of Saul.
David had found out that his covenant friend and brother, Jonathan, had a son living in Lo Debar, a city whose name means “no pasture, no word, no communication.” People say, “Word travels fast.” Well, not to Lo Debar. This place was, as we say in Texas, out in the sticks. Verse five says, “Then King David sent and brought [Mephibosheth] out . . . from Lo Debar.” Mephibosheth, crippled in his legs from the time he was a little boy, is brought before David and falls on his face, probably afraid for his life. But David says to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually” (v. 7).
This poor, crippled outcast had his life forever changed in a day by David’s determination to show the kindness of God to the house of Saul. There are three things David does to put love on display that I want to make note of. The first thing he does is send for Mephibosheth. The word send means “to reach.” You see; kindness is more than just niceness. Anyone can turn on some niceness when they encounter someone along the way, especially if that someone is in a position to do something for them. But when David’s servants tell him that this kid is living in some remote village, does he balk or back step in his mission because it is becoming a little less convenient? Absolutely not. And Mephibosheth was certainly not in any kind of position to do any favors for David. He is a cripple, but that doesn’t deter this king of kindness. “Go get him!” David commands.
Then it says David brought him out. That word could also be translated “to draw.” If you’ll study kindness in the Scriptures, you’ll see that it has drawing power, the power to bring near someone or something that is afar off. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’” Thirdly, David lifts up this crippled man who cannot lift himself. He restores his family’s land to him, and he gives the man servants and a place at the king’s table for the rest of his life.
Reach Out. Draw In. Lift Up.
The Kindness Show is a three-act play: Act One—“Reach Out”; Act Two—“Draw In”; Act Three—“Lift Up.” The first thing kindness will do is reach out beyond whatever it is that divides and separates it in an effort to close the gap. Separation can be the result of anything from geographical distance to an offense between people. In fact, the word offended literally means “separated,” and offense has the power to drive a wedge between people larger than any number of miles. But when the kindness of God rises up inside believers, they will reach out through the distance that separates, not in an attempt to prove their cases or stake their claims, but with the overwhelming desire to put love on display. Under the rules of the Old Testament, man had to make sacrifices for his sins. It was an animal that represented man’s sin and the distance that sin had put between God and him. To put this animal to death was to put to death the distance between God and men, even if only for a short time. But when our Father gave us Jesus, He reached out in kindness beyond the distance between heaven and earth, beyond the distance between His holiness and our sin, not in an effort to condemn us but because His overwhelming love for us demanded that He do so. And according to Ephesians 2:7, He is showing us “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Verse thirteen says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” When God put Jesus to death on the cross, He was forever putting to death the distance that separates us from Him:
“For [Jesus] Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation… that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:14,16,17).
In a universe-altering display of kindness, God reached out to us, drew us in, and then lifted us up to sit with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).
In the coming weeks and months, we will be heading out with kindness written on our hearts (Proverbs 3:3,4 nlt). From where I sit right now, there are countless hours, many airplanes, and great big oceans between us and the people we are going to see. But we have asked the Lord for the nations of the world, and now we must reach out beyond natural and cultural barriers and demonstrate our love for them by closing the gap between us.
Our assignment in going is clear: magnify Jesus. He said that if He be lifted up, He would draw all men to Him. Remember, kindness is drawing power. We will preach the truth in love, believing that all who hear will be lifted in their hearts, strengthened in their bodies, and that their lives will be forever changed by the manifestation of Jesus. Now it’s your turn. Let the same desire that rose up in King David to show the kindness of God rise up in you. Is there offense between you and a brother? Reach out beyond what separates you. Let kindness draw him back into fellowship, and if there has been any shame, then let love lift his head, his heart, and his whole life. Show him the kindness that has been shown to you, no matter how lame you’ve thought him to be. This may sound funny, but the love of God really is all a big show. It’s the biggest show anyone has ever seen. So who will you invite to The Love Show?