Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back To Basics – Part 4

(This week we continue our series on “The Fruit of the Spirit” with a discussion on the word “kindness.”)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The other day I went out to lunch with a close friend who I have not spent much time with lately. I was eager to sit down with her and catch up with the events of her life, and share with her my latest happenings.

As we entered the restaurant, and walked up to the greeting area to get a seat, we both looked at the woman who stood in line directly in front of us. It was obvious that she was homeless, and she was trying desperately to talk to the hostess who was paying her little attention. I believe the woman may have had a stroke at one time or another because she spoke with a slurred kind of speech usually seen in such patients. The hostess started to help us, and I thought for a moment that she was being rude in ignoring this poor woman, but only a moment passed before another hostess came and led me and my friend to a table.

I immediately forgot the incident, but my friend didn’t. She indicated her displeasure about the woman being disregarded. That is when I thoughtlessly said something about us not knowing the whole situation.

My friend and I had a wonderful lunch and we both promised each other that we would not let so much time pass before we had lunch again. As we prepared to leave, my friend spotted the little lady who had previously been ignored, sitting at a booth and sipping a cup of coffee.

My friend excused herself, and with a look of displeasure clearly written on her face, she walked up to the hostess who had previously disregarded the woman and whispered something to her. Then my friend pulled out her wallet and paid to have lunch brought to the woman.

Of course I immediately felt about one inch tall. I’m a minister and I cast a blind eye to the woman’s plight. In hind sight I know that I should have been the one to offer to do something, but I didn’t. It was a wakeup call for me. I now know that I need to start paying more attention to the people around me. Especially my dear friend who has a compassionate heart that reaches out to anyone in need.

How wonderfully ironic that I am writing about “kindness” this week? I suppose God felt He needed to humble me a bit before I wrote this post. Thank you, Lord!

The Bible is full of passages that tell us about the word kindness. These passages describe God’s kindness to us and how we are to be kind to others. They teach us that we are to be especially kind in our speech and with our substance. They also provide us with examples of people who have been kind to others, or who have been blessed by the kindness of others. We can all learn from their wisdom.

Kindness in the Scriptures

God’s Word provides us with many examples of God’s kindness to us. Some of these scriptures include:

• Nehemiah 9:17 which tells us how God is kind to us even when we are disobedient … “They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them…”

• Psalm 31:21 tells us how God is kind to us when we are in trouble … “Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.”

• Psalm 117:2 tells of us how great His kindness is … “For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.”

• Isaiah 54:8 tells us that His kindness is unending … “In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the LORD your Redeemer.”

God’s Word also provides us with many examples of how we should display kindness to others. Some of them include:

• 1 Corinthians 13:4 which tells us how to show kindness as a demonstration of our love … “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

• Ephesians 4:32 tells us how kindness was given to us first … “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

• Romans 12:10 tells us how kindness to others means thinking of others first … “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

• Second Peter 1:7 tells us that kindness is evidence of Christian growth … “and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”

Kindness in Our Speech

Have you ever been out in public and heard some loud obnoxious person saying horrible things to their spouse or children? You are almost afraid to look at them for fear that they will turn on you and start spouting ugly words in your direction.

Our speech is a very important place for kindness. Unfortunately, more people have been hurt by cutting words than ever were harmed by man-made weapons.

The way we speak is a test of our genuine Christianity. James 3:9 tells us about the contradiction of kind and cutting words. He wrote: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.”

Harshness of speech is extremely harmful to the cause of Christ. What kind of example are we showing non-Christians when we talk about the love of Christ one minute, and then the next minute we are saying mean and hateful things?

Remember this:

• Harsh words cannot be recalled.

• Harsh words wound those we love.

• Harsh words can even divide a church.

Instead we should speak:

• Words of comfort

• Words of encouragement

• Words that build faith

If someone walked around with you all day, recording your conversations, what would those recordings reveal about your speech? Think about that for a moment.

Kindness with our Substance

As Christians we are called to be kind with our substance. Examples of this type of kindness can be found in verses about the early church. Acts 2:44-45 tells us that members of the early church were very generous to those in need. It reads, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

The Apostle Paul took up regular collections for those in need. We find in his letter to the Corinthians that they were to take up a collection for God’s people just like the Galatian churches were doing. (1 Corinthians 16:1)

Kindness in giving is spoken of in the Bible. Just look at the following verses:

• Mark 9:41 reads, “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”

• Ephesians 4:28 reads, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”

• Matthew 25: 35-36 reads, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Kindness is another dimension of love, and is essential if we are to practice Jesus’ Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matthew 7:12)

An Excellent Example of Kindness

Jesus gave us an excellent example of how we are to show kindness to one another. Luke 10:30-37 records the story of the Good Samaritan. It reads:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

When I look back on the events of the other day, I can not help but compare it to the story of the Good Samaritan. Here was a woman who was in need of help. She was ignored just like the man who was robbed and beaten. It was the actions of my friend (a modern-day Good Samaritan) that reflected the true meaning of the word kindness … a fruit that we all need to start bearing more of if we truly want to be victorious in our walk with Christ.

As for me, I have to admit that I played the role of the priest who passed by the helpless stranger. Thankfully, God saw fit to pull at my shirt tail, and allow me to witness my friend’s selfless act. The priest in Jesus’ story was not as blessed.

It is important for us to understand that kindness reveals our degree of surrender to the Lord, while selfishness reveals our degree of carnality. When it comes to the bearing the fruit of kindness, we need to ask ourselves a simple question every once in a while … Do others see the kindness of Christ in me?

Next week we will continue this series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Until then, may God bless you!

1 comment:

  1. I continue to be encouraged reading this series.

    Thank you.

    My Thought-filled Journey