While thinking about the opposites of kindness, I keep going back to the verse I chose for the Verse of the Month, Ephesians 4:32:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
The verse (v. 31) that comes right before that talks about the Biblical opposite of kindness:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
As I was researching this verse, I came across some of Wesley’s notes, and I really appreciate how he has gone into more detail about these opposites of kindness. I can’t get over how perfectly he describes these evil things.
He calls bitterness “the height of settled anger,” which may be the best definition of bitterness that I’ve ever run across. It’s anger that has settled into your bones and changed who you are. Describe any bitter people you know? Rage is defined as “lasting anger” and “anger” itself as “the very first risings of disgust at those that injure you; opposite to forgiving one another.”
Brawling says, “I am not angry…but it is my way to speak so.” It is the outward form of anger that tries to act macho. And slander is evil speaking, “Be it in ever so mild and soft a tone, or with ever such professions of kindness.” How often is our gossip draped in false kindness and compassion?
Wesley says of verse 31: “Here is a beautiful retrogradation, beginning with the highest, and descending to the lowest, degree of the want of love.” I would add “kindness” to love, as well.
How amazing are his definitions of the opposites of kindness? When we see people speaking maliciously to each other, I think one of our first thoughts may be “how unkind.” And to think how all forms of kindness can be removed from our hearts when we retain bitterness to people or circumstances. And how we can fake kindness, while all the while we hold contempt or pity or sarcasm in our hearts.
And then, the verse tops it all off with “malice,” which covers all of the other evils mentioned in this verse, but also has an aura of intent and deceit. Because apparently I’m all over the commentaries this month, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says malice is “fires fed within, and not appearing to by-standers from without…[they are] are the most formidable.” And Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible says malice is “settled, sullen, fell wrath, which is always looking out for opportunities to revenge itself by the destruction of the object of its indignation.”
Definitely not kind, eh?
What do you think the opposites of kindness are? Did I miss anything here?