Today I have the honor of pointing you to Mary Beeke’s new book, The Law of Kindness: Serving with Heart and Hands (Reformation Heritage: 2007).
My wife and I have enjoyed brief but precious time with the Beeke family and have benefited from Mary’s display of kindness. As the mother of three kids and the wife of a busy seminary president, author, and pastor — Mary’s many duties are fulfilled in a display of selflessness and kindness. She is, in the words of Sinclair Ferguson, “Mrs. Kindness personified.”
Her new book was written to help the reader cultivate kindness. The book covers topics such as understanding kindness and its root (chs. 1-3), learning kindness as a wife, parent, or teacher (Mary was a teacher), and helping children and teens learn kindness (chs. 4-9). Finally, she concludes with chapters on the display of kindness: kind thoughts, kind words, and kindness displayed toward the needy (chs. 10-13).
It’s a book intended for a broad audience, not limited to wives and mothers.
The Kind Husband
The Law of Kindness features a very helpful chapter (ch. 5: “The Kind Husband”) written by Mary’s husband, Dr. Joel Beeke (also an example of kindness). His chapter sets out to help husbands understand and apply Ephesians 5:25-29. Dr. Beeke begins his chapter with a proper awareness of the Cross.
We are to show our wives loving-kindness because we are to treat our wives the way Christ treats His bride, the church. This is what Paul is saying in Ephesians 5:25-29. Here are three ways we are to show our wives loving-kindness:
1. Absolutely. Christ gives “Himself” for His bride — His total self (v. 25). He holds nothing back. That is obvious from what He has done (think of Calvary), is doing (think of His constant intercession at the Father’s right hand), and what He will do (think of His Second Coming). We, of course, do not merit salvation for ourselves. But in terms of the consistent, absolute giving of loving-kindness, Christ is our mentor. We, too, are to give ourselves to our wives. That is a call to consistent, absolute loving-kindness.
2. Realistically and purposely. Christ shows kindness to His bride to sanctify her so that He might present her without spot or wrinkle to His Father (vv. 26-27). Christ realizes that His church is far from perfect; she has many spots and wrinkles. She has numerous shortcomings. So we as husbands are to love our wives as if they were perfect, even when we know they are not. Our call and challenge is not to show consistent loving-kindness to a perfect woman but to model Christ in showing consistent loving-kindness to an imperfect wife who has numerous shortcomings. Our purposeful goal must be to influence our wife to good, hoping that our kind love may remove some of the shortcomings, so that our partners may receive freedom to flourish, basking in our kindness.
3. Sacrificially. Christ nourishes and cherishes His bride at His own expense (vv. 28-29). So ought we husbands treat our wives at our own expense with the care that we treat our own bodies. If you have something in your eye, you don’t say to yourself, “I think I’ll take care of that tomorrow.” You give it immediate, tender care. So we ought to treat our wives, sacrificing, at times, our own time and desires. We must care for, protect, nurture, and respect our wives as we would our own bodies.
Are you showing your wife the exemplary loving-kindness of Christ absolutely, realistically, purposely, and sacrificially? “No,” you confess, “that is impossible.” You are wrong, my friend. Yes, you will always fall short of the mark of perfection since you are not Christ, but by Christ’s grace and His Spirit, you can learn to treat your wife with Christlike loving-kindness (pp. 72-73).
The majority of the chapter explains very practical ways that husbands can display loving-kindness towards their wives.
I believe The Law of Kindness is Mary Beeke’s first official book project. Her writing style is very energetic and engaging. She is unafraid to discuss personal issues and offers much practical advice for wives to display kindness towards their husbands and children. Her words in chapter nine challenge children and teens to display kindness, too. And her expressed appreciation for her husband is itself a model of kindness. For example, she concludes the introduction with these words:
“Words fail to express my gratitude to my dear husband, Joe, for his steadfast love and tenacious support of me. He has encouraged me to continue writing about this subject that I love so much, in spite of times when I felt completely unworthy to do so. He has overlooked dust and clutter and has offered to take the family out to eat more times than he probably should have, so I could have time to write. I am deeply grateful to God for this man who lives by the law of kindness” (p. 7).
Whether in wise counsel, practical illustrations, or even in the way they talk about one another in the book, the Beeke family displays the law of kindness. It’s a rich blessing for the church to now have their influence in book form.
Title: The Law of Kindness: Serving with Heart and Hands
Author: Mary Beeke with one chapter by Joel Beeke
Reading level: 2.0/5.0 > readable and engaging
Dust jacket: no
Paper: white and clean
Topical index: no
Scriptural index: yes
Features: 17-pages of study questions
Text: perfect type
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Price USD: $ 9.00 from RBH