A Life of Kindness
A LIFE OF KINDNESS
Part 6 of The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. December 17, 2017.
BIBLE READING & PRAYER: Galatians 5:22-25
INTRODUCTION: KINDNESS NEEDED
Our youth group just finished a teaching series called SOCIAL. We were talking about following Christ when we're online. We talked about using positive words and we talked about bullying. About 25% of students have been bullied online; about the same as offline.
In these days of always-on social apps and instant communication, it's become too easy to be mean and nasty in posts and comments. Some folk seems to think they can say stuff online they'd never say face-to-face. It's like a war of words.
The Bible tells us to stop all that because the fruit of the Spirit is KINDNESS. The Dalai Lama, the Buddhist leader, once said, "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." That's absolutely true for Jesus-followers because God's Spirit is filling us with kindness.
What is kindness? Kindness is about relating to people - feeling what they are feeling. Kindness is being sensitive to people, sort of like empathy, sympathy, compassion.
When I was a younger pastor, I tried to keep my distance from people, not because I didn't like them, but because I could feel their pain. And I didn't know how to deal with it - it scared me. My heart would burst, tears would well up. I think that's kindness.
Kindness is giving people a break when they mess up, reaching out to people who reject us. Kindness is the opposite of being a bully, using harsh or negative talk, criticizing, looking down on people when they don't live up to our "high standards."
Today, I want to give you two reasons to live a life of kindness and then some examples from the life of Jesus:
A. BE KIND TO OTHERS BECAUSE GOD IS KIND TO YOU.
When we had messed up and walked away from God, he could have blasted us into oblivion. But he didn't. He chose to pour out kindness on us:
Titus 3:3-5 "We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us."
"The kindness and love of God our Savior" is Jesus - he embodies God's heart. His kindness saved us. It nailed him to the cross. It set us free from guilt and shame.
Did we deserve any of that? Was it a reward for the good things we have done?NO! Salvation is a gift. He took pity on us. In his heart, he felt the pain of our lives, wrecked and ruined by our sins. He felt kindness welling up inside and that led to an outpouring of grace:
Ephesians 2:6-7 "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."
Instead of rejecting us, God has raised us up with Christ. That's G.R.A.C.E. - God's riches at Christ's expense. And grace flows out of God's kindness to us. God's kindness to us should result in our being kind to others:
Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
That's just saying, since you've received kindness, show kindness. The church should be the kindest place on earth.
How do we "be kind" when people are so "basic." They mess up, they let us down, cut in line, lie, hurt us. Ask Jesus to give you his heart of compassion and empathy for people, to feel what they feel, to walk in their shoes. Everyone's going through something. Feel their heart. Then, bring it all to the cross and leave it there. Let Jesus take the blame. Just like he did for you. Then, "chillax" and give them a break. Be kind. God is kind to you.
B. BE KIND TO OTHERS BECAUSE GOD IS WORKING IN YOU.
Kindness is really something supernatural:
First, it's a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It's what the Spirit works into our hearts - we don't create it, we just cooperate with it. Our kindness comes out of the huge supply of kindness the Spirit has deposited inside us.
Then, here's something really interesting: the apostle Paul claimed that one proof of his apostolic anointing was his "kindness." It's part of a list of apostolic qualities:
2 Corinthians 6:4-8 "As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and KINDNESS; in the HOLY SPIRIT and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the POWER OF GOD; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;"
That's amazing. Apostles had power from God; they manifested Holy Spirit signs and wonders; that is, a supernatural anointing. And one of the signs of that anointing, according to Paul, was kindness. Not so surprising since Jesus was the kindest ever.
If you want to live a supernatural life, then let the Spirit work his kindness into your heart until you feel empathy and compassion to unlikely people - such as enemies. That's not natural, only the Spirit can produce that attitude. Jesus told his followers (that's us):
Luke 6:35-36 "Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
Loving enemies isn't natural. Being kind to the ungrateful and wicked - that's a God-thing. Showing mercy to people who hurt us or bug us - that's a supernatural work of the Spirit in our lives. And it has supernatural impact:
Rosario Butterfield was an activist, feminist, Lesbian, English and women's studies professor at Syracuse University. In 1999, to everyone's great surprise, she turned her life over to Jesus Christ. Why? Because a pastor and his wife reached out to her with great kindness. They invited her into their home. They became friends. That's supernatural kindness. And that's how God's work gets done.
C. BE KIND TO OTHERS BECAUSE JESUS WAS KIND TO OTHERS.
Let me give you three very brief examples of Jesus showing kindness:
The first example is very surprising and I'm not sure many of us should try it. Jesus said this to the Pharisees and teachers of religious law:
Matthew 23:33 "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?"
Yes, that was kind. They needed to know they were lost. Jesus felt their lostness and their secret fears and he wanted to warn them and to offer them a way out of hell. I don't think most of us should speak that way. But all of us should be kind to spiritually lost people.
This next example of kindness is beautiful. Jesus came to the town of Nain:
Luke 7:12-13 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don't cry.”
The phrase, "his heart went out to her" is often translated as "compassion," literally, "a punch in the gut." Jesus let this woman's grief and pain "get" to him. He reached out.
The final example would have been totally shocking in the day. It was so awkward and socially unacceptable and his kindness drove him to do it.
John 4:7-10 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Jesus couldn't help himself. His kindness compelled him to reach out, to make a connection, to offer life.
This is the kind of people we should want to be. Let's make the Cornerstone church the kindest place on earth: a community to is full of compassion and empathy for lost, hurting people.
We're living in a very hostile and divided culture. People are mean to each other over the least thing. We have a tremendous opportunity to show the difference Jesus makes. And all it takes is this: we release what the Spirit has put in us: kindness. Showing mercy and love and compassion to people we might not find very likable. That opens doors to God's supernatural work in people's lives.
Do you remember the big to-do over Chik-Fil-A COO, Dan Cathy's, refusal to support gay marriage? I found a very interesting story about how Mr. Cathy responded to the boycotts and hate aimed at him:
"While we were busy fighting, Cathy slipped unnoticed into potentially hostile territory—but not for a counter-attack. Campus Pride director, gay activist, and openly gay man Shane Windmeyer, "came out" as Cathy's friend in an article he wrote for Huffington Post last month, describing how Cathy had reached out to hear more about LGBT concerns regarding his company. In the midst of this unprecedented dialogue, Windmeyer writes, 'Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level. He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being 'a follower of Christ' more than a 'Christian.' Dan expressed regret and genuine sadness when he heard of people being treated unkindly in the name of Chick-fil-A, but he offered no apologies for his genuine beliefs about marriage.'"
CT online. February 2013. https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2013/february/chick-fil-as-lesson-on-loving-your-enemies.html
You know what that is? Yes, it's kindness. If anything will ever draw Shane Windmeyer to Jesus, it will not be criticism and hatred and condemnation. It will be kindness, friendship, and love.