God’s kindness toward us stems from grace. Grace because without Jesus, by His death, paying the penalty of sin for us we could only experience God’s wrath. With the penalty of sin out of the way, grace flows freely. God’s kindness inspires Him to care for and nurture us. These are actions toward us … God’s goodness.
God entrusts and equips us with gifts to do good for others. Our gifts are given to benefit those He loves and to glorify Himself.
BEFORE THE KINDNESS OF GOD … 3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
AFTER THE KINDNESS OF GOD …4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8
Our culture encourages self-absorption, ever increasing extreme activities and entertainment to please ourselves, spending our time and money selfishly. We cling to what is “mine”.
Beth Moore used the following in part of her definition of goodness:
Goodness does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good in others. A person may display his goodness, his zeal for goodness and truth, in rebuking, correcting or chastening.” She goes on to say that the purpose of this quality of the Fruit of the Spirit is to do or bring that which is most beneficial, whether or not it is that which is most popular, fun, easy or pleasant. Speaking truth to bring about good can be difficult to say and even harder to receive. But a tenderhearted attitude of kindness provides the spoonful of sugar for those awkward yet necessary times.
Beth asks, “Can you think of a time when you were either the object of kindness and goodness through a loving rebuke or the vessel of such kindness and goodness to another? Did good come from the confrontation?” I remember a wise mentor rebuking me as a young leader and teen Sunday School teacher. My teaching and leadership skills were raw and arrogant and abrasive. She knew this wasn’t my intention and saw the potential in me. In a spirit of kindness, she extended goodness to me by showing me how I appeared to others. It was beneficial to me to see the truth about myself. The change it brought has been beneficial to many others.
God’s word says not to grow weary of doing good. Share with others what you’ve been entrusted with. Spend yourself doing good.
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: If you know me, you know that I love to be a moment catcher … noticing meaningful moments and celebrating them … and hopefully with the camera! I’ve always called them “moments” and they are always unexpected so you have to be ready at all times to “catch” one.
I was inspired by a fellow blogger’s post, Elaine, at Peace for the Journey. It made me stop and think about my own, what Elaine calls, “sacred intersections”. I’ve had them. I even look for and anticipate them. What a wonderful tag for such moments! Sacred intersections … I’m not talking about the kind of moments where the music starts to build like in the movies and your moment unfolds dramatically. Like this one for me:One evening during our 20th anniversary weekend in Sun Valley we opened the door to the condo to go to a romantic dinner only to find huge snowflakes falling softly all around us among the aspen trees; it was silent … it was magical … it was unexpected. And it really happened. I could almost hear the music. It made us feel young and helped us remember when our love was young. (insert sound of scratching LP record)
Nice moment but I’m talking about moments when God interrupts our plans and routines and helps us remember HIS purposes for the day. On days when we are well into the details of a busy day, He comes to remind us that we have a higher purpose than checking off the items of a to do list. He interjects eternity into our day.
Our attitude, our interactions, our reactions, our kindnesses speak volumes throughout eternity. Why does the world give Christians such a hard time when their words or actions don’t reflect Christ? Because people are wanting to see if Jesus Christ truly makes a difference. How we treat the servers who wait on us in restaurants, the bank tellers, the grocery clerks, the floor sweepers, the person ahead of us in line, the customer service agent on the phone speaks loudly to the world. We can be demanding, impatient and condescending one minute, and then if God interjects eternity and we learn that person just lost a loved one or they are going through a painful divorce, our attitude instantly changes. Suddenly we’re thinking about their need and their eternal soul instead of how long it’s taking for our meal to arrive.
Recently God sent me some sacred intersections, some moments from eternity.♥ This week I went to have my haircut. The person ahead of me was finished right on time. I was thinking, “Good, we’ll get started on time and I can get on to the next thing before Scott gets home.” But this person was very chatty. She was chatting on and on about her illness and the conflicting advice from her doctors. I kept my head down reading a magazine but inside I was thinking, “Great. How long is she going to go on about all that?! She isn’t even concerned that my appointment time has come and gone. How rude. I would never do that to someone.”
Suddenly I noticed that the conversation had turned to where she could find a good Bible Study. (I didn’t hear the transition because I was talking to myself.) And my hair professional was saying, “Candy can help you with that. Candy, where would you recommend she find a good Bible Study?” God had interjected eternity into this moment! My “training” took over and I asked her a few basic questions to get some background. She was someone who loved God but didn’t feel comfortable calling herself a Christian. She had negative experiences with the Church and with Christians when she was young. She studies the Bible and her heart longed to know God.
Instantly my attitude had changed. I was thrilled to point this chatty woman to Jesus. All of a sudden I realized she had been chatting about her experience with CANCER. What was I thinking?! Here I was, a professed Christ-follower, only concerned with how long my haircut was going to take when this woman had come back from the brink of death and was reaching out to a loving God with her questions and her yearnings.
I was humbled by eternity.
♥ I looked around the room. I didn’t see any newcomers and few young women at this speaking engagement. I was wondering how God could use this event if everyone already knew Him. I didn’t want to play girlie luncheon. Then right in the middle of a very crucial part of my talk, a young woman walked in the door and sat down. There was some commotion as a place was made for her at a table, and I skillfully brought the audience back to attention. “Great,” I thought. “Another moment ruined by an interruption.”
Afterwards as we looked through the comment cards, there was a card from this woman who had arrived so late. She was from a local retirement center and had come to pick up one of those “older women” who already knew the Lord. This young woman had checked the box asking for more information about becoming a Christian!
God had interjected eternity. I couldn’t see His plan. But He was busy working his purposes, moving people into position to be touched in answer to prayer … I and the event leaders were just cogs in the wheel always in motion. Once again I had forgotten that God is ALWAYS at work. I don’t have to know or see all the details; I’m only responsible for my own obedience.
Eternity touches us when obedience meets opportunity.
Will you join me in taking time today to notice the sacred intersections (thanks for that beautiful tag, Elaine), the moments when we have the chance to touch eternity? We are God’s hands and feet and heart. The way we move through today does matter … forever.
Candy blogs: I have always had some favorite words that evoke certain emotions. They are words that I try to think about and use because they have such a positive impact on me. Words have become even more important in this high tech world; once you send them “out there,” they never go away. One of my favorite words is fragrance.
If you read through the historical books of the Old Testament in reference to required sacrifices, you’ll find this phrase repeated over and over … a pleasing fragrance to God. The definition of fragrance is the quality of being fragrant; a sweet or pleasing scent. Catching a whiff of a winsome fragrance always makes a person stop and take notice … lilacs in the spring, a good-smellin’ man, smoke from a fireplace somewhere in the neighborhood, popcorn in the next cubicle, the air after a rain, a roast in the oven, freshly cut grass.
Sometimes it’s just in passing and sometimes it fills the room but fragrance is always noticed. It is never ignored even if words are never spoken. We want to breathe in a lovely scent and stay close enough to the source to keep breathing it in. Fragrance always leaves an impression. It is usually an indication of cleanliness. Encouraging words, a patient and understanding attitude, acts of kindness, taking time to really know others, spreading cheerfulness, giving perspective … these things leave a pleasing fragrance.
A similar but, oh, so different word is odor. The definition is a disagreeable smell. (I don’t think I’ll make a list here of smells that are disagreeable!) Many of the same things can be said about an odor. It is always noticed and always leaves an impression. One will usually go searching for the source of an odor as it indicates the presence of decay and even death. We tend to avoid odors if we can and a whiff is more than enough. Cross or belittling words, a critical spirit, purposefully hurting another, a demanding attitude, insisting on your own way, gossip … these leave an odor behind.
I am thinking today about which word lingers around me. Jesus, let your presence in my life leave a winsome fragrance everywhere I go.
2 Corinthians 2:14
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent (having or emitting fragrance; aromatic) with life.
For those of you reading from elsewhere: