There’s a word you’re listening for; listening for with all of your heart. The doctor might give you ten thousand words, but no other stands out like this one; none gives you such clarity and relief. It is the kindest word of all.
Upon hearing that single word, one of two things happens. We hear – and hear with truer clarity – what follows far better than we ever could. Or, all of the other words now fade for we have heard what we wanted and needed to hear most of all; we have heard what matters most.
“The results show the mass is such and such … and is benign … blah, blah, blah …”
You turn the word over and over, again and again, in your mind. It simply will not go away, and how glad you are for that fact. You think: is there a more beautiful word?
You have likely heard of the name John Wycliffe, a Christian in the 1300’s. He was the first to translate the New Testament into English. And for doing so, remarkably, he was reviled. By many. With great power. So much so that even nearly half a century after his death, religious authorities had the remains of his body dug up and burned.
Is there even a word for that sort of darkness? If there is, surely it is …
Which leads me to note: when John Wycliffe translated the texts in the New Testament that speak of the thought of kindness, he used the word “benign.”
* “… love ye your enemies, and do ye well, and lend ye, hoping nothing thereof, and your meed shall be much, and ye shall be the sons of the Highest, for he is benign on unkind men and evil men.” (Luke 6.35)
* “Knowest thou not, that the benignity of God leadeth thee to repenting?” (Rom. 2.4)
* “Charity is patient, it is benign …” (1 Cor. 13.4)
* “… the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy … benignity …” (Gal. 5.22)
* “… be ye together benign, merciful, forgiving together, as also God forgave to you in Christ.” (Eph. 4.32)
* “Therefore ye, as the chosen of God, holy and loved, clothe you with the entrails of mercy, benignity …” (Col. 3.12)
Benign is beautiful for benignity is godly.
And so, let us choose not to be malignant to others in any way today, or any day the One true and kind living God gives us. Let us seek to be benign/kind in every big and small way, fleeing from every desire, impulse, thought, word, or way that even hints of anything malignant.
For in doing so, we will not merely bring better health to ourselves, or even give relief – great relief – to others, but will do what we were made to do in the beginning and are being remade in Christ to be now …
Bearers of the likeness of the Christ who is kind to us.