Candy blogs: The Fruit of the Spirit … is kindness. No one can argue with the virtue of kindness. The Greek meaning for this word is a tender concern for others. A desire to treat others gently. I love this one: the grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would be harsh and austere.
The Father’s tender heart toward us is so evident in this verse:
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
God quiets and calms our fears out of His loving’kindness’. I don’t know about you, but I have to force myself to picture me as the child being quieted, to lay back at rest to receive the kindness of my Father in Heaven. I relate more to being a parent, the one who does the comforting. But God’s heart knows the intense pain of intense love. His heart hurts when we hurt. He longs to tender kindness; He has a tender concern toward us.
There are so many around us who need to know kindness. I see a lot of angry, selfish, biting, impatient people out there who need a gentle, tender response or touch. You know, Jesus could have healed anyone with his thoughts or his words at any time when he was on this earth but often he chose to heal through a physical touch. Sometimes a gentle touch on a hand or arm or an arm around the shoulders or a double handed, lingering handshake can make all the difference to someone in need of tenderness in the midst of their pain. We don’t know what that impatient grocery clerk is going through when they’re not at work.
But remember kindness is a grace which pervades the whole nature. It starts in our hearts and extends out through our senses in the form of the next attribute of the Fruit of the Spirit … goodness. That’s our next post. Jesus invites us to allow the Holy Spirit to develop kindness in our hearts, to look beyond our own needs and schedules and circles and see into the pain of someone else.
I would remind readers that this series on the Fruit of the Spirit is based on the Beth Moore study, Living Beyond Yourself. These postcards and blog posts are my way of processing this incredible Biblical study into my thought process and the way I interact with others. Re-stating concepts and phrases helps me do that. So these posts are all adapted from Beth’s insights. I wanted to give credit where credit is due.
Candy blogs: Ah, but you can’t talk about God’s holiness without talking about God’s mercy. Let’s define some new words.
Beth Moore says one definition of patience is the quality of a person who is ABLE to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so. Much like exercising patience with children, we don’t rush in with extreme punishment for a toddler who spills their milk or a teenager who makes their first poor choice. These things often make us angry, and we COULD avenge ourselves because we are the authority but we REFRAIN from doing so. This kind of patience is motivated by …
-compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power
-compassion, pity, or benevolence
-something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing
Forbearance: (not a word we use much these days)
-the act of forbearing; a refraining from something
-patient endurance; self-control
-an abstaining from the enforcement of a right
That sounds like God, doesn’t it? Patient, merciful, forbearing
He could avenge Himself …
He could strike us down because of the sin in our life but instead he shows us tender mercy.
I Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
I Peter 3:15
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation!
I am SAVED because mercy prompted God’s patience! I am even ALIVE each day because God is refraining, holding back the judgment I deserve, patiently allowing more time for more to repent and be reconciled to Him.
When I think about God constantly withholding punishment and judgment, exercising profound patience on my behalf, I realize that to be allowed into the presence of such a God … whose ways are so high above mine, is more humbling than I can fathom. I skip into the gym on Sunday mornings, anxious for worship as I know it. Anxious to sing and see friends and encourage others. And this is as it should be.
But if I was truly aware of the holiness of God Almighty,
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine … in the presence of such a God.
(‘I Can Only Imagine’, written by Bart Millard of Mercy Me)
Here’s the kicker: God hasn’t changed. He’s still the same God in both testaments. His nature, His character still require justice. The New Covenant doesn’t change the fact that punishment for sin is death. It doesn’t change the fact that any accommodation with evil invites God’s wrath. It just means that Jesus took the punishment instead of me. THAT is where holiness meets mercy.
Here are some beautiful word pictures of where holiness meets mercy.
It was said of Aslan, King of Narnia – “He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion,” Mr. Thomnas says. “No,” replies Lucy, “but he is good.”
Mercy Came Running
Written by: Dave Clark; Dan Dean; Don Koch
Once there was a holy place
Evidence of God’s embrace
And I can almost see mercy’s face
Pressed against the veil
Looking down with longing eyes
Mercy must have realized
That once His blood was sacrificed
Freedom would prevail
And as the sky grew dark
And the earth began to shake
With justice no longer in the way
Mercy came running
Like a prisoner set free
Past all my failures to the point of my need
When the sin that I carried
Was all I could see
And when I could not reach mercy
Mercy came running to me
“Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail …” Zeph. 3:5b
“Yet this I call to mind and, therefore, I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:21-23
Let this be so in me:
Holy and merciful God, thank you that I can come boldly into your very presence because you see me through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Give me a new awareness of the beauty of your holiness and the tenderness of your mercy.
Candy blogs: I recently spoke on the subject of one of God’s almost forgotten character traits … that of His HOLINESS. I preface this by saying that God’s holiness is only one of many of his character traits. I happen to be calling out this one in particular to take a look at today.
I experienced, what some might label, a more “severe” religious upbringing. I wasn’t allowed to wear pants to church or have my ears pierced or go swimming on Sundays or play games with a regular deck of cards or go to school dances. We didn’t say gosh or gol or darn or dang. And when the PG rating for movies first came out when I was in high school, I wasn’t allowed to go to them. I was taught that these things were part of living a “holy” life. I had my little run-ins with these “rules” growing up but my perception of God was never stern or harsh or unfeeling. Somehow I was able to understand the co-existence of God’s holiness and God’s grace and mercy. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
Even though I moved away from those types of severe behaviors when I grew up, I believe that, in the pursuit of being palatable to the culture, the Church today has lost much of the reverence that God’s holiness requires.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the Church didn’t need to make some changes to stay relevant. I don’t believe we should stay stuck in one place. There are many ways to live out the Christian life and many ways to “do” church and many ways to reach out to pre-Christians. But somewhere along the way, I believe the holiness of God became a bit like this scene from the Wizard of Oz … (click on the link to view)
Notice how their initial reverence and respect and awe, and even fear, turned to casual conversation and even confrontation and demands when they discovered that the wizard was common and approachable. In their eyes, when “that veil was torn”, the wizard had lost his awe and mystery.
Let’s clarify the meaning of these words … holiness and reverence and respect and awe.
-specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated
-HOLY refers to the divine, that which has its sanctity directly from God or is connected with Him
a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe
esteem for, or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person
-an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, produced by that which is grand, sublime or extremely powerful
-power to inspire fear or reverence
-to influence or restrain by awe
Wow, we really don’t think in these terms anymore, do we? There aren’t a lot of people or things we feel this way about anymore. Everything is so accessible now. We use these words so flippantly, so non-chalantly today … Holy (holy cow!) … awe/awesome (you’re so awesome, dude). The way we use these words in our culture have nothing to do with their true meaning. They’ve lost their impact.
In the Old Testament pleasing God was very black and white. God’s presence was represented in the Ark of the Covenant. If you were in the presence of the Ark, you were in the presence of God. Thus, the Ark was holy because God dwelled there. God gave very clear instructions how to treat the Ark, and thus how to respond to Himself.
• When the Philistines captured the Ark in battle, so many horrible things happened to them, they couldn’t get rid of it fast enough. (I Sam. 4-5) God rained down judgment on them because they were treating the holy Ark with such disrespect. And since the Ark represented God, they were disrespecting God himself.
• Uzzah just touched the Ark and God struck him down (II Sam. 6) He didn’t wait to consider that Uzzah’s intentions were good. God had said that the Ark wasn’t to be touched, and when it was, punishment and justice were immediate. The comments in my study Bible say that this event is a reminder to those of us who claim to serve God that we must acknowledge His rule with absolute seriousness. I had to sit with this awhile.
In our culture we tend to have a very blasé view of sin. We tend to justify our sins and dismiss them as “mistakes”. But the holiness in God still hates sin and requires justice. God will forgive the sinner, but He will, He MUST, still judge the sin.
Ah, but you can’t talk about God’s holiness without talking about God’s mercy. Stay tuned for part II! Mercy came running …
I’ve missed you all! I’ve been busy writing new talks. Pray for me.