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Showing posts with label Kindness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kindness. Show all posts

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Transforming Gift of Kindness


Introduction
Today, I want to briefly finish up our Transformers series about the transforming power of the spiritual gifts.  Just as my fictional childhood heroes, The Transformers, could transform from robots into cars, the Holy Spirit transforms us when we trust Jesus Christ and follow Him as Lord.  The Spirit makes us a new creation.  We die to our old sinful ways of living and we become new people.  And the Holy Spirit gives each of us a special ability that we can use to serve and help transform the world.  Listen to the Word of God.

Romans 12:6-8
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Kindness
Kindness.  You probably know what it means to be kind.  But I want you to understand more specifically what this gift of kindness is, from the biblical perspective.  When I think of kindness, I think of a sweet, friendly person who is very nice.  But Paul has something deeper in mind when he says the Holy Spirit gives some people the spiritual gift of kindness.  The word Paul uses for kindness in Romans 12:8 is eleeo and it means divine compassionate mercy.

Eleeo, the Greek word for kindness, is used in other places in the Scriptures.  It's almost always translated mercy and used to describe the mercy Jesus shows people by healing and forgiving sins.  For instance, in Matthew 9:27, two blind men begged Jesus to heal them crying, “Son of David, have mercy on us.” And because of their faith, Jesus healed them. And it is used in Romans 11 to describe how God has mercy on all people who repent, forgiving their sins and welcoming them as His very own people.

All Christians are to be kind—showing divine, compassionate mercy.  Jesus has been so merciful to us!  In divine mercy, He laid down His life on the cross that our sins can be forgiven and we can make a brand-new start and inherit eternal life as daughters and sons of God.  In turn, shouldn’t we also show compassionate mercy to others?

We should all be kind.  However, the Holy Spirit supernaturally enables some believers with the ability to feel and understand the tormented suffering of others so that they can offer God merciful kindness.  When others suffer physical, mental, emotional, social, or spiritual distress, people with the gift of kindness are like the hands of Jesus bringing forgiveness, healing relief, and hope for a better tomorrow.   They have the extraordinary ability to sympathize with those who are suffering.  They often cry with others and feel compelled to share in their pain.  Their heart forces me to console them and help them find relief.  People with the gift of kindness show mercy willingly and cheerfully.  They are glad to do it just as Jesus was glad to pay the ransom for our sins. 

Has the Holy Spirit enabled you with the spiritual gift of kindness?  How could you use it to help His Church transform the world?

Let me end with one more Scripture.  This time from Ephesians 4:31-32.

Ephesians 4:31-32
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Now, go out and show kindness--the divine, comppasionate mercy of God--to one another.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Fruit of the Spirit - Kindness

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit of God living inside them.  The Apostle Paul says the Spirit produces fruit—Christian virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  I challenge you to memorize this list of virtues.  More importantly, I challenge you to seek to have them all more abundantly in your life.

Over the past several weeks, we have already studied:
  • Love – the greatest Christian virtue. We are to love God and love others the way Jesus loves us (even gave His life for us).
  • Joy – a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”
  • Peace – the wholeness that comes when we live in harmony with God
  • Patience – persevering through whatever trials you face while you wait for God to set things right in His time according to His perfect will.
  • Last week, my guest blogger David Crawford, shared a creative message about cooking with the fruit of the Spirit (i.e. tying all the virtues together in your life).
  • Along the way, we have learned that you don’t grow the fruit of the Spirit yourself.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit.  We are called to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and nurture the fruit He produces in us—through worship, prayer, practice, and discipline.

Today we will consider another part of the fruit of the Spirit, which is kindness.

Kindness is simple. Give it a try.  The definition of kindness is:  the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.  Kindness is so simple, even a child can understand it.  The challenge for this virtue is not in understanding, but in doing.

You may not know this, but I have trained in martial arts almost all my life.  I started out learning a Korean form of "karate" called Tang Soo Do when I was just a young kid. My instructor was very kind to me. He recognized my interest and encouraged me to take more classes, but I could only afford one class a week—and that just barely. So, in kindness, my Kyo Sa Nim (that’s the Korean term of respect we used for him) said I could take classes for free! In addition, he even drove to my house every day to give me a ride to class. I was ashamed that Kyo Sa Nim should be so kind to me when I could do nothing in return.  I offered to pay for his gas once and he simply said, “No, no, no. It’s my gift.”  

“But I feel so bad because you’re always paying my way.”

My instructor just looked at me and said, “Don’t worry about it. Somebody was kind to me once. One day, you can be kind to someone else. What you do for them, you’ll be doing for me.”

I think about his words quite often now that I’m older and can afford to pay for my own gas. I’m thankful every time I have the chance to be kind to someone and remember that I am only returning the kindness that was shown to me.  

Even more important, Jesus is infinitely kind to us.  He came to live with us, walk with us, teach us, empower us, live, die, and rise for us. We never deserved his kindness, but he was kind to us anyway.  Whenever we are kind to others, we are simply thanking Jesus for being kind to us. Pray that the Holy Spirit will cultivate the fruit of kindness in you more and more.

Don’t Just Act Kind; Be Kind
Jesus told a short parable in Matthew 21:28-31 that encourages us to follow through on kindness.
28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.
31 “Which of the two obeyed his father?”
They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.

Some people are polite and look or act kindly on the surface, but they aren't really kind.  They are like the one son in the parable who politely says "Yes sir", but doesn't really obey.  Others are like the other son who initially said "no", but eventually went and obeyed his father.  They are like some people you meet who look rough or speak rudely, but are truly kind down deep inside.  I would encourage you to do both--speak kindly and follow through by acting kindly.

Practical Steps to Nurture Kindness in Your Life
  1. Make a commitment to be kind throughout your day.  Start your day off with a prayer that God would help you be kind throughout the day.  Keep your thoughts focused on it.  If you mess up (as we all do sometimes), just ask God for forgiveness and try again.  Focusing on kindness will help you remember to be more and practice will help you improve, with the Holy Spirit's help.
  2. Genuinely care for others. When I was a young man, I was so overwhelmed with how kind Jesus was to me.  I wanted to see the world with more compassion like Christ sees us.  And so, I prayed that God would help me and fill me with more compassion like Christ.  Through the years, God has helped me become more compassionate, to truly care more about people. I still have a ways to go, but I am more caring today than I was twenty years ago.  How about you?  Ask God to help you genuinely care about others and you will start to be more kind.
  3. Don't be kind for the sake of getting what you want.  There is a type of kindness that says, "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine."  But that's not the type of kindness the Holy Spirit wants to grow within you.  Jesus specifically said to be kind to people who can’t do any for you.  For he said, "If you are kind to those who will be kind to you, you already have your reward.  However, if you are kind to those who cannot do anything for you, God will reward you." (At least, that's a loose paraphrasing of Luke 6:32-26.)
  4. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes, we are our own harshest critics.  I am amazed sometimes at how hard I can be on myself.  My inner voice sometimes says things to criticize me that I would never in a million years say to someone else.  I have to stop myself and say, "Be nice!"  So don't be so hard on yourself.  Give yourself a break.  Cut yourself some slack.  Be kind to yourself.  If you mess up, ask forgiveness and forgive yourself! And remember, it's the Holy Spirit's job to grow fruit in your spirit; your job is just to nurture it with love and tenderness.  So be kind to yourself (and this may also help you be kind to others).

Spiritual Gardening
Throughout this series, I’ve tried to relate the Fruit of the Spirit to gardening.  You can’t make a garden grow.  Only God can make a garden grow.  However, there are some things you can do to help nurture the Holy Spirit's work--fertilize the soil, pull up some weeds, water the garden, protect it from pests, etc.  And of course, nothing is likely to grow in your garden if you don't plant some seeds.  Showing kindness it like planting seeds.  Kindness is often just a small thing, but it can grow into something beautiful and even reproduce and spread like wildflowers that color our world.  I challenge you to look for ways to color your world with kindness as much as you can.  Here's a video to inspire you.

Closing Prayer
"Father, thank you for being so kind to us through Jesus Christ.  Help us to focus on kindness throughout every day.  Fill us with Christ's compassion that we may truly care about people.  Help us to be kind to everyone--especially those who don't deserve it or can't do anything to return the favor.  Help us even to be kind to ourselves.  We ask in Jesus name.  Amen."

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sound Different

Introduction
            I will never forget the first time I said "I love you" to Kelly.  She was only 16 and I was 18.  We'd only been dating for a short time.  I walked her to her door after on of our date and said good night and then it just came out, "I love you."  I said ti as much out of habit as anything (that's the what we said when we told each other good night in my childhood family).  There was an awkward pause... and Kelly did not reciprocate.
            Back in the car on the drive home, I was kicking myself.  Why did I say that?  It wasn't appropriate because we hadn't been dating long enough and I didn't really mean it; it just slipped out.  When I got to my house, the phone rang and it was Kelly.  She said, "I think I should explain why I didn't say I love you back.  Those are very important words to me and I don't use them lightly.  I think you should really know that you love someone before you tell them "I love you.""
            Now that sounded different--so much more mature and honest than most 16-year-old girls I knew at the time.  And it impressed me that Kelly had a deeper understanding of love and was willing to stand up for what she believed in and to call me and explain.
            Well, we are supposed to sound different than the world.  You see, long ago, God chose you to be holy different--to think different, to act different, to look different, and to sound different.  How You Sound--what you say--is serious business.  Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences."  Proverbs 15:4 says, "Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."  And Proverbs 12:18 says, "Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing."  And listen to what Jesus said about the power of what holy people say. 

Mark 11:22-25
22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

In the Passage, Jesus Implies 3 Ways Holy People Will Sound Different.
            First, holy people have faith to speak and move mountains. Holy people use their words to change lives and change the world. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. looked around and found a world full of racial discrimination and segregation. It seemed like an impossible mountain to move, but King knew it was not right and he was a Christian leader, a holy man. So King began to speak and what he said sounded different from everyone else. He urged non-violent protest. He spoke about how segregation and racial bigotry was hurtful not just black people, but also to white people and oppressors. King preached that we all need healing--even those who are mistreating others.
            Holy people don't just sound different when they speak out on momentous social justice issues.  Mountains are moved in small ways every day.  David Crawford is the music minister of our church.  Not only is he talented, but he also has a Christ-like attitude that blesses so many people in so many ways.  David started attending my church decades ago when Tom Dickson invited him to come.  Tom's invitation was just a small thing, but it has made a world of difference for everyone David blesses at my church is linked to Tom's invitation.
            Holy people pray.  Philippians 4:6 says, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."  When others get made, get sad, get worried, get discouraged, holy people pray.  Negative emotions produce more negative emotions.  Worry and stress produce more worry and stress.  Everyone gets to talking and dwelling on their worries and stress and all the negative emotions just get worse and more intense.  But holy people sound different.  Holy people pray and God gives them peace.  And peace gives birth to more peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers…”
            Holy People forgive.  When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he looked down at the soldier gambling for his clothes and said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)  Holy people sound different because they forgive.
            On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof gunned down 9 Christians in a church in Charleston, SC.  The relatives of the slain had a chance to speak directly to the gunman at his first court appearance. One by one, those who chose to speak did not turn to anger. Somehow—by the grace and power of God—they were able to speak life even in the presence of the man who brought death to their loved ones.  [i]Nadine Collier, the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, said at the hearing, her voice breaking with emotion. “I forgive you,” she told him. “You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”
            Forgiveness sounds different. It brings healing—first of all to you. Bitterness will poison you from the inside out. Holding a grudge will tear you apart and damage all your other relationships.   Forgiveness helps you heal and move on to the brighter future God want to give you.


Are You Ready to Sound Different?
            Thankfully, most of us will never experience the tragedy of our loved ones being gunned down in a church prayer meeting.  But there are still some practical things that everyone can do to sound different than the world.  First of all, get in the Word f God.  Your conversations are not scripted.  They are spontaneous.  It's not practically to measure every word you're going to say and how you say it.  Most of what you say just comes from your heart.  Jesus said, "What you say flows from what is in your heart." (Luke 6:45).  So fill your heart with God's Word.  Dig into the Bible so that you are more and more like Christ in your heart.  Then everything you say will flow from your Christ-like heart and you will sound different and holy.
            Second, refuse to use abusive or vulgar language.  Don't try to tear people down in order to make yourself feel better or right.  There is already too much of that going on in our world.  Holy people should sound different.  Refrain from cutting remarks or trolling on Facebook.  Refuse to gossip or talk about people behind their backs.  Instead of texting or emailing, call or visit and talk to people directly. 
            Third, encourage people with love and grace.  Be kind.  Be positive.  The world has enough negativity and darkness.  Sound different.  Speak light, not darkness.  Speak life, not death.
            Fourth, use your words to invite people to church.  People need to be in the church.  We need Jesus and we need each other.  The Church is the place Jesus chose for his holy people to gather.  Let us gather as many here as we can. 
            Some will say, "But I've already asked everyone I know."  Jesus told a parable about that--the parable of the great banquet.  A master sent his servants to invite people to a great banquet.  One by one, all the guests made excuses why they couldn't come.  So the master sent his servants out saying, "Go out into the highways and byways and compel everyone you can so that my banquet may be full.”  It may be that the people you are asking just don't feel they need to be in church.  But there are many others out there who realize they're in desperate need.  So go.  Invite them!  They may be different from you, but different is OK.  Jesus loves different.  In fact, God chose us all to be different and holy.  So build some relationships with different people.  Invite them to lunch.  Get to know them.  And invite them to church.
            Are you Ready to Sound Different?  Good!  Because God wants you to be holy different--to think different, to act different, to look different, to sound different, to be different.  You are His holy people, a royal priesthood set apart for His special purposes to go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ to build His Kingdom.  Amen.


[i] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/06/17/forgiving-dylann-roof-is-taking-a-heavy-toll-on-those-left-behind-but-theyre-not-giving-up/?utm_term=.411ff81dd2f0