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By Pastor Glenn Pease
Allen Emery, one of Billy Graham's associates tells of his experience as a boy back in 1937.
He was travelling on a train with his father.
One of the porters had a limp and was obviously in pain.
When they inquired about it, they learned he had an infected ingrown toenail.
After breakfast Allen came back to his car and noticed the porter coming out of his parents room.
He was crying, so Allen followed him to the men's lounge and sat down beside him.
"Are you crying because your toe hurts?", he asked.
"No," he said, " it is because of your daddy.
Your daddy could see my toe was in pain and suggested that I let him lance it and clean it out."
The porter explained what his father did, and he began to cry again.
"Did it hurt that much?" Allen asked.
"It didn't hurt at all and it feels fine now," he responded.
"Then why are you crying?"
Allen asked.
Let me finish the story in Allen's own words.
The porter made this reply-
Well, while he was dressing my toe, your daddy asked me if I
loved the Lord Jesus.
I told him my mother did but that I did not
believe as she did.
Then he told me that Jesus loved me and had
died for me.
As I saw your daddy carefully bandaging my foot,
I saw a love that was Jesus' love and I knew I could believe it.
We got down on our knees and we prayed and, now, I know
I am important to Jesus and that He loves me.
With that he started crying again, happy and unashamed.
When his sobs subsided, he earnestly burst out, "you know,
boy, kindness can make you cry."
I understood.
I also
understood that a living illustration like this can never be
forgotten and the privilege of seeing such events is a
responsibility of life.
One father, by bearing the fruit of kindness, led a man into the kingdom of God, and gave his son a lesson in love that changed his life forever as well.
Kindness is no wimp among the virtues.
The reason we tend to think so is because it is a virtue that even pagans can manifest in a strong way.
Paul, who makes a great deal of the importance of kindness in the Christian life, recognizes just how kind pagans can be.
In Acts 28 when the storm wrecked the ship, and all were forced to swim for their lives to the island of Malta, we read in verse 2, "The islanders showed us unusual kindness.
They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold."
In verse 7 we read, "there was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island.
He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably."
In verse 10 the story ends with these words, "they honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed."
These pagan people treated Paul and Dr. Luke as kindly as they were ever treated by their Christian friends, and far more kindly than what they received from some Christians.
This kind of competition has, instead of challenging the Christian to a higher level of kindness, led them to minimize its importance.
It is embarrassing when a non-Christian is more kind than a Christian, and so to save face the Christian says it is no big deal to be kind.
Kindness is just a natural gift of some personalities, they say, and so, even though it is nice, it is of no credit to anyone, anymore than it is to have blue eyes.
Kindness is just the luck of the draw, and a matter of genetics, and should not be given much value as a Christian virtue.
If my pagan neighbor is kinder than me, it is due to his or her heritage, and does not make them better than me.
With this kind of rationalizing, Christians have been able to send kindness back to the minor leagues.
The only problem is that the New Testament stresses that kindness is a major league player.
It has a contract with God to play on the highest level, and we can't fire it or push it out of the big leagues.
Paul settled this once and for all when he said in his great love song of I Cor.13, in verse 4, "love is kind."
God-like love is kind.
There is no escape from this fact, kindness is a primary virtue and part of the image of God in man.
The fact that this image can still be reflected in non-Christians is no excuse to minimize it, but rather a reason to recognize that God's people should display it in its purest form.
The non-Christian may beat you on the level of natural kindness of personality, but there is no kindness superior to that of the fruit of the Spirit kindness.
This is not merely man produced, but it is God produced fruit.
Like all the other fruits this one too grows out of love.
Jesus went about doing good and showing kindness to everyone in need because He loved people.
It is hard to be kind if you do not love.
It is easy if you do love, for love is kind by its very nature.
This is where the Christian can compete and win, for the Christian filled with the Spirit can love his enemies and those who do not deserve love.
This is not natural, but is the fruit of the Spirit.
If a Christian is not unusually kind he or she will not make much of an impression on the world, where people experience kindness from others whom they know are worldly.
We need to make a commitment to magnify rather than minimize this fruit of kindness.
Henry Frederic Amiel said, "Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us.
Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!"
The opportunities to be kind are very numerous we can show kindness almost every day, and often several times a day.
Seneca, the Roman philosopher, whose brother Gallio set Paul free in Acts18, said, "Wherever there is a human being, there is a chance for kindness."
Paul was shown great kindness by his brother, and Paul was fully aware just how kind pagans could be.
That is why he stresses that Christians be kind, for if they are not, they are less than the pagans they are trying to reach.
In Col.3:12 he urges Christians, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
When a Christian gets up in the morning to dress for the day they are to put on kindness along with all else they wear.
Ask yourself before you head off to work or to school or to wherever, did I put on my kindness?
To walk out of your home unprepared to be kind to people who cross your path is to be unprepared to be a Christian.
We should be as embarrassed to leave our kindness at home as we would be to leave our shoes or shirt.
You have seen the signs on the doors of many stores that say, no shirt, no shoes, no service.
If Paul ran a restaurant his sign would say, no love, no kindness, no service.
He would be embarrassed to see Christians running around with no kindness on.
He sees kindness as one of the undergarments, for in Col.3:14 he sees love as the outer garment that covers all.
He writes, "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
Paul is saying if you take off into your day not clothed with love and kindness you are practically naked, and will probably be a spiritual embarrassment before the day is over.
Paul is not worried about you leaving home without your credit card, but he is saying of kindness, don't leave home without it.
How does a Christian dress?
With the fruits of the Spirit.
We are to cover the flesh with these fruits, so that, just as the defects of the body are covered by clothing, so the defects of our fleshly nature are covered by these beautiful garments of the Spirit.
You are what you wear in the spiritual life.
If you wear these fruits you are Christ like.
The Greek word for kindness even sounds like Christ.
The noun is Chrestotes, and the adjective is Chrestos.
We are to wear Chrestotes to be Christ like.
If we wear this garment we will be conspicuous for our courtesy in a world where rudeness is often the norm.
Courteous language and behavior should characterize the Christian in the daily walk.
Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is chrestos..." Jesus is saying my yoke is kind.
He does not make a yoke that is rough so that is cuts into the neck of the oxen as it plows.
He makes His yokes smooth so they do not irritate.
They are easy to wear and make the job easy.
This is being kind and considerate, and that is the way Christians are to treat other people.
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