Be Kind

Fruits of the Spirit  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  59:02
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We’re continuing our journey through that beautiful list of Fruits of the Spirit from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. My goal in spending so much time on these verses this summer is not to get ourselves caught in the weeds by digging down. Instead, my hope is that as we look at these words we might recognize their nuances and how they all point us back to the character of God.
Our passage comes from Galatians 5:16- 26, and in particular we’re focusing on the list we find in verses 22 and 23.
Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Today we’re focusing on the words “kindness,” and “goodness”.
Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Those two words are similar in the way that people experience us. If I’m kind to you; I’m good to you. If I’m good to you; I will be kind to you. They are linked.
“Be Kind” has become a sort of catch phrase in today’s culture. I see it on billboards, marquees, t-shirts, mugs. I think it was Ellen Degeneres who ended each show with “Be kind to one another.”
The challenge in our current climate is that kindness has been reduced to agreement; disagreement is considered unkind. I’ve often quoted John C. Maxwell where he says, “If two of you agree on everything, one of you isn’t necessary.”
So for the time we have together we’re going to explore kindness and goodness in an effort that we might develop these two fruits of the Spirit in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ filled empowered by and fill with the Holy Spirit, and move beyond the errant idea that disagreement is unkind.
Kindness is part of the character of who God is.
In the 23rd Psalm verse 6 we read:
Psalm 23:6 ESV
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I remember first hearing this verse as “Surely goodness and loving kindness,” so the words “loving kindness” were in the place of “mercy”.
Psalm 23:6 (ESV)
Surely goodness and [loving kindness] shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
So one of the aspects of kindness can be said to be mercy. Kindness is merciful. That’s good.
The Hebrew word here is HESED, and it is translated: steadfast love, loyalty, mercy, favor, and simply love.
We’ve been discovering a lot of these fruits of the Spirit have a lot in common with the godly kind of love recorded by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4
1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)
Love is patient, love is kind...
Love was first on our list, The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control...
It’s important to note love is kind, but like many equations it does not necessarily flow both directions.
Let me share an example: The sky is blue. Yet blue is not the sky. Or a more biblical example from 1 John 4:8, and 4:16. “God is love.” This is truth, but love is not God.
When we try and put an equal sign so that the two sides of the equation are the same thing we diminish the greater. The sky is much more than blue. Blue is only a descriptor of the sky. God is much more than love; love though is a descriptor of God.
As we are learning in going through this list of fruits of the Spirit, love is broader than the romantic love we may have thought. It is broader than the friendliness we may have thought it to be.
In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome he writes this phrase:
Romans 2:4 (ESV)
God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.
Think about that. for a moment. We think of repentance as what it takes for us to be able to come to Christ. In fact, I’ve heard good intentioned Christians ask people to change their lives BEFORE they could come to God. That is the antithesis of the reality of what Scripture tells us. If I were to expand our view and put this quote into context we would read:
Romans 2:1–4 ESV
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
It is God’s love and God’s kindness that call us back to that relationship. As sinners (and that includes everyone of us), according to Scripture we are not capable of following God on our own. These verses speak to it in that we are very quick to become the judge of others but not ourselves.
It has been said we judge others intentions based on their actions, but we judge our actions based on our intentions. How often have we heard the excuse “I didn’t mean to...” which speaks directly to our intent.
God’s kindness was demonstrated perhaps best in Jesus forgiveness.
In his book, The Orthodox Heretic, Peter Rollins writes:
“Jesus’s understanding of forgiveness was so radical because he did not need people to repent before he accepted them. He did not require a change in behavior before he loved, respected, and related to them. Yet, it was precisely this unconditional love and forgiveness that seemed so potent and transformative, often being the very act that drew people to repentance.”
Again, “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
God’s wrath, punishment and judgment are not exactly a magnet to draw people - unfortunately too often it is what people hear from the church EVEN WHEN THAT IS NOT WHAT THE CHURCH IS SAYING!
Judgment does not draw people to Christ.
That’s important enough to repeat. Judgment does not draw people to Christ.
Yet for many people both within and outside the church that is what they sense coming from those who would profess to be followers of Christ.
The Sermon on the Mount contains Jesus most famous words. Within that sermon, Matthew records Jesus in his gospel as saying, Matthew 7:1-3
Matthew 7:1–3 ESV
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
And Jesus’ brother James wrote to the church:
James 4:11–12 ESV
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
I share these verses for two reasons:
It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.
As Christians filled with the Holy Spirit we ought to exude the same kindness.
All too often our default setting is to judge.
As you and I encounter the loving kindness of God it shines light into our lives. As we encounter the one true God we cannot help but recognize that God is decidedly other. We see the differences between God and ourselves, between Jesus and ourselves.
Recognizing those differences and the darkness that lies within us and the light that is Jesus we cannot help but desire to turn from our ways. And God’s kindness leads us to repentance and turning from our ways.
That’s one step. The next then is for us to extend the same kind of loving kindness to others - not to reach out with the hand of judgment, but with a hand of kindness, a hand of goodness.
To be kind in a very real way is to be good. Let’s not just be kind to one another, let’s be good to one another. Let’s be merciful when seeing the weaknesses in others and recognizing similar weaknesses in ourselves and repenting.
Jesus said,
Matthew 7:4–5 (ESV)
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Part of kindness then is recognizing the logs in our own eyes and “working on our own stuff” as a good friend of mine often says. We can all become better whittlers.
As you go from here today, my hope would be not only that you would be kind to others, but that you would be kind to yourself. This morning we’ve thought a lot about the phrase
Romans 2:4 (ESV)
God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.
When you see those things in your life that you know are not God like, repent - turn to God. Then when you see those things in others that are not reflective of God you’ll be more able to extend a godly kindness to them as well.
To God be the glory! AMEN!
Let me pray for you.
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