Romans 2:4b ....God's kindness leads you toward repentance
I know, it sounds strange - totally paradoxical - how does kindness kill? Before I answer my own question (which may be your question), let me describe the certain death that harshness delivers to its recipient.
Harsh words and tone of voice are well-worn weapons in my arsenal of relating to others. When I am feeling insecure, annoyed or displeased, the contempt in my demeanor spews at the victim like a spurting artery. I am quick to speak, slow listen and adept at diminishing my perceived enemy to a stunned and silenced soul. Yes, I am aware that that response is completely the opposite of what we are taught in James. It leaps out of my heart before my lips can close. When correcting my 3 year old daughter with that unpleasant tone and reminding her we don't speak harshly, she looked me squarely in the eyes and said, "What about your harsh heart?" Nailed it.
Harsh words kill intimacy. They murder trust and bury warmth in relationship under a pile of fear, anger and sadness. I can see the pain and confusion spill from my family's eyes when they receive my wrath. Herein lies the paradox.
Kindness also kills. First and foremost, God's kindness towards us killed His Son. He lovingly offered His Son on the cross to cover for the atrocities of our sin - harsh words and deeds alike. Kindness also kills harshness. My husband tells me that nothing disarms him and leads him to humility and godly sorrow more than a kind word or gesture from in the midst of an argument. I'm sorry to say he is probably a bit Pavlovian in his response to me during conflict after years of harsh responses. He is prepping for the onslaught and I am seeing some glimmers of hope - I am not unkind every time. Hmmm...that same kindness that God shows me TIME and TIME again when I sin is being extended to my husband and my kids. My kindness kills defensiveness and offers grace. It rescuciates relationship with gentleness. It leads me and those I love to the foot of the cross where God's kindness pours out like a fountain and we can all repent.
WOW - what a concept.