To be honest, until recently, I had no idea what this word meant. I am a lover of words but I have to confess that I never realized the connection between the words, “malice” and “malicious”. We just don’t use the word, “malice” much these days, do we? I certainly didn’t grow up using or hearing the word and as an adult, I can probably count the number of times that I’ve said that word on two fingers.
Malice: intent to hurt someone with words or deeds, either because of a hostile impulsiveness or out of a deep-seated meanness.
Hm…now that I think about it, we do have a word for malice in our culture – BULLYING…and I definitely grew up with that. Back when I was a child, it wasn’t common that kids’ parents were divorced. When my mom got remarried for the second time, she decided it would be easier if my brothers and I had our last name officially changed. So, one day, I was Diane Irwin and the next day I went to school, I was Diane Chown. I will never forget what happened at recess. A group of boys and girls cornered me against a fence in the playground, ridiculed me for not having two parents, spat in my face and well….bullied me. That happened so many years ago and yet, I can still remember what I was wearing at the time.
Malice is all about being mean spirited. We all knew mean spirited kids when we were kids – I’m sure you remember them by name – but without intervention, these kind of kids grow up to be mean spirited adults; and there are a lot of them around too. Malice is knowingly choosing to pull another person down. It is often premeditated and deeply entrenched in the heart.
Kindness is the opposite of malice. Where malice wants the other person to suffer, kindness is occasioned by grace. Doing kind things is a big thing these days with Ellen ending her daily TV talk show with, “Be kind to one another” and the constant reminder from the media to “pay it forward” with acts of kindness. However, being kind is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5.22) The way I see it is that kindness is not prompted by the good which the other person has done, but by the good that God has done. God’s Spirit prompts us to be intentionally kind – we can be kinder than we feel because of His Spirit’s power within us. With His help, we can find, make and take the time to be a kind person.
This strengthens the soul. Being kind to others is never wasted time.
And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4.32 NIV