SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 19, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
In this edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we want to turn our attention to the aspect of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT ‘KINDNESS.’ We have so far discussed Love, Joy, patience and peace. What I want us to remind ourselves of is the fact the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned by Paul is one set, and can therefore not be separated. One cannot bear some aspects of the Fruit and claim to be a Christian. We need to bear all aspects of the Fruit. However, we should admit that we cannot bear the fruit unless we allow the Spirit to have full control over our lives. Without him, we can do nothing. Therefore even as we try to bear the Fruit, we should submit fully to the Holy Spirit. Let us now focus on KINDNESS as an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit.
The Greek term for kindness χρηστότης (chrēstotēs) appears 10 times in the New Testament. The King James Version translates it in Galatians as “gentleness,” but as “kindness” on four other occasions. The New International Version translates the word as “kindness” in 9 of 10 occurrences. Like the word love (agape), kindness (chrēstotēs) is closely related to Hebrew חסד (chêsêd) in the Old Testament, which stands for God’s covenant love. This means that the kindness the Christian is supposed to bear as part of the Fruit of the Spirit is like the loving-kindness God has demonstrated to us through his son Jesus Christ and continues to show to us because of our covenant relationship with him. As we all know, no one can quantify how much loving-kindness the Lord has shown and continues to show us. Through his loving-kindness, God provides all our needs even if we don’t ask him. Think about the sunshine, the rain, the food, the air, the water, the accommodation, the people around us, and so many other things we receive from God which flow from his kindness towards us.
It is very important for us to remember that we do not deserve the kindness of the Lord, but God through his grace has brought us into a covenant relationship with him and has been so kind to us every moment of our lives. Who can count his blessings? All the kindness the Lord shows to us is not just because we have done anything good for him; it is because of his unconditional love and compassion for us. This should be emulated and demonstrated to the rest of the world. Christians are to be kind to our neighbors just as God through Christ has done for us. Jesus showed kindness to the poor, the needy and the outcast in his ministry. Therefore every Christian must learn to be kind to others just as Jesus did. This is because OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE THE SAME AS Christ (Philippians 2:5).
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he taught about kindness towards those who are in need. He taught in Matthew 6:1-2 that we should give in support of the needy (an act of kindness) but we should not go out and announce to the world that we have shown kindness to the needy. According to Jesus, announcing publicly what we have done for the needy implies that we have already received our reward and should therefore not expect any reward from the Father . In Luke 6:35 Jesus taught:
“BUT LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, AND DO GOOD, AND LEND, EXPECTING NOTHING IN RETURN, AND YOUR REWARD WILL BE GREAT, AND YOU WILL BE SONS OF THE MOST HIGH, FOR HE IS KIND TO THE UNGRATEFUL AND THE EVIL” (ESV).
This is very challenging to us because we mostly show kindness expecting something in return. Because we mostly show kindness expecting something in return we sometimes show kindness to people who may not be in real need of our kindness, leaving those who are in real need because we may not get anything from them. According to Jesus, this will not make us Sons of the Most High who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Let us begin to evaluate the motives behind most of what we describe as kindness to others and find out whether we are really doing what is acceptable before the Lord or not. If we are showing kindness with the wrong motives, we should allow the word of God to change our hearts before we are rejected by the Lord.
In his parable concerning the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, Jesus showed one of the criteria for the selection of those who will be on the left side of the Father. The key issue Jesus stressed on was kindness. According to verses 41-43, the Father will say to those on his left:
“THEN HE WILL SAY TO THOSE ON HIS LEFT, “DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO ARE CURSED, INTO THE ETERNAL FIRE PREPARED FOR YOU, THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS. FOR I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME NOTHING TO EAT, I WAS THIRSTY AND YOU GAVE NOTHING TO DRINK, I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU DID NOT INVITE ME IN, I NEEDED CLOTHES AND YOU DID NOT CLOTHE ME, I WAS SICK AND IN PRISON AND YOU DID NOT LOOK AFTER ME” (NIV).
Beloved people of God, this should stir our hearts. I do not know how much of the above you are doing as an individual, a Church or a Christian organization.
WE MAY PREACH THE GOSPEL TO SINNERS AND TURN MANY HEARTS TO THE LORD, BUT WE SHOULD NOT IGNORE THE NEEDS OF THE POOR, THE NEEDY, THE ORPHANED, THE IMPRISONED, THE SICK AND THOSE AFFECTED BY NATURAL CALAMITIES SUCH AS THE VICTIMS OF THE TYPHOON IN THE PHILIPPINES. THIS IS WHAT IS CALLED ‘HOLISTIC MISSIONS’! JESUS DID NOT ONLY SHOW CONCERN FOR THE SPIRITUAL NEEDS OF HIS HEARERS, HE WAS ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR PHYSICAL NEEDS AS WELL. THIS IS WHY HE FED MORE THAN 5000 PEOPLE WITH BREAD AND FISH. WHAT CAN WE ALSO DO FOR THOSE CRYING FOR HELP TODAY?
The Apostle James also encourages us to be kind by giving to those who are in need. In James 1:27, we learn what true religion is all about. According to James:
“RELIGION THAT GOD OUR FATHER ACCEPTS AS PURE AND FAULTLESS IS THIS: TO LOOK AFTER ORPHANS AND WIDOWS IN THEIR DISTRESS ….” (NIV).
Apostle Paul has also said a lot about kindness. In his teaching to the Ephesian Christians, Paul exhorted:
“BE KIND AND COMPASSIONATE TO ONE ANOTHER, FORGIVING EACH OTHER, JUST AS IN Christ GOD HAS FORGIVING YOU” Ephesians 4:32.
This shows that forgiving the sins of those who offend us is an act of kindness. God has forgiven all our sins through his son Jesus Christ and does not count them against us. But many Christians still find it very hard to forgive our offenders. Sometimes we claim to forgive but cannot forget. Is that true forgiveness? Well, I do not know the answer myself, let us all think through it. But the Bible provides the answer in Hebrews 8:12 as follows:
“FOR I WILL FORGIVE THEIR WICKEDNESS AND WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE” (NIV).
If God forgives our sins and remembers no more, why should we keep records of the sins committed against us as Christians? LET US LEARN TO FORGIVE AND FORGET AS PART OF OUR KINDNESS TOWARDS ALL MEN. According to Proverbs 11:17:
“A KIND MAN BENEFITS HIMSELF, BUT A CRUEL MAN BRINGS TROUBLE ON HIMSELF” (NIV).
Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, I will NOT pretend that showing kindness is something very easy to do, especially to those who are cruel or unkind to us. As human beings, it is always difficult. Sometimes we want to show kindness but we also think about our needs for the following day or the near future. This discourages us from showing kindness. But it should be pointed out that eating today and storing up food for tomorrow while others are hungry today is not a Christian virtue unless we have no means of reaching out to the hungry. Inasmuch as it is not easy to do so, absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit can help us to show kindness to all men and the Giver of all things shall supply our needs on daily basis.
TODAY I WANT TO CHALLENGE ALL OF US TO THINK OF THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED ESPECIALLY OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE PHILIPPINES. IF IT IS POSSIBLE, WE SHOULD SEND OUR DONATIONS THROUGH ACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS THE RED CROSS AND THE UNICEF AND THE MANY CHURCHES WHO ARE COLLECTING DONATIONS TO SUPPORT THE VICTIMS. But we should also think of the needy ones in our families, churches and communities. Think of the orphans, those in prisons, the homeless, the sick, the distressed, the abused and all those in need of our help. You can pray for them even if you don’t have anything to give them, for God will reward you for your heart for the needy ones we may or may not know.
One issue that discourages us when we want to show kindness is the way some people pretend to be in need of our help only to end up stealing from us or harming us in other ways. This is discouraging many people from showing kindness as a result of the fear of being victimized in the end. But I want to encourage you today not to fear being kind because of what some people have done to you in the past or to others. We should also allow the Lord to help us discern those who are really in need from those who are not and grant us the heart of kindness in our daily lives.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Be Kind to One Another!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.