Thank you again for being here today. If you came in a little late or are joining us online, my name is Phil and I am the lead pastor here at GracePoint. If you are joining us online, please let us know by commenting in the chat box or submitting a way we can pray for you.
A couple weeks ago we began a new series entitled Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life. God desires for all of humanity to respond to his love and grace and be in relationship with him. As we engage in that relationship our heart, soul, and mind are transformed and shaped into being more like Christ. This should change how we live as we saw articulated in Galatians and our lives will be marked with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This morning, I want to talk about the fifth fruit of the Spirit, kindness.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) Read Out Loud
22 The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
Last week we talked about patience – how did you practice patience?
An article in Dallas wrote of a librarian who had stopped to help a stranded motorist.
She was driving along and saw this man, standing beside his car, trying to flag somebody down. She stopped, and he said the battery was dead and asked if she’d mind giving him a shove to start his car.
“Why certainly,” she said, “but I’ve never done this before.”
“Well, just get your speed up to about thirty, shove me along for a short distance and that should start it.”
“Are you sure that’ll work?”
“Certainly, I’ve done it a hundred times.”
She backed up her car. Backed it up some more. And some more. The she gunned the motor, burned rubber and came barreling like a missile toward the back of the man’s car. He turned white as a ghost, screamed, prayed, jumped to the side of his car and started madly waving his arms. “No! Nooooo! Stop! Stooooopppp!” She slammed hard on the brakes, skidded, and managed to avoid a total disaster. “He did not,” she said, “ever tell me I was supposed to put my bumper up against his first.”
We laugh at this story because it reminds us of situations in our lives where a lack of understanding caused problems. But the story has one sad twist. Most of us cannot fully relate to the librarian because we would never stop along the highway to help a stranger. Our fear of being robbed – or worse! – keeps us in our cars with our windows up and our doors locked. Kindness has taken a back seat to fear.
But fear is not the fiercest foe of kindness. Selfishness is. The natural tendency is to look out for old number one–myself.
During the 25th anniversary concert of the group “Peter, Paul, and Mary” on PBS, Noel Paul Stookey delivered a monolog on our growing obsession with ourselves, and he did so by observing the ever diminishing focus of attention as represented in the titles of our most popular magazines.
In the 1950s the magazine of choice was “Life.” The name represented the breadth of interest in our society. We focused on all of life. Then in the 1960s, another new magazine appeared: “People” While it’s true that people are a large part of life, they are not everything there is in life. In the 1970s another new magazine appeared, and the trend should have been obvious. The new magazine was “Us.” Now ‘us’ is still people, too. Only it’s not ‘them’, it’s only ‘us’. Then in the 1980s, “Self” hit the newsstands.
This self-obsession led to the unthinkable in the 90’s. When Susan Smith let her car role into John D. Long Lake with her two children strapped in their car seats, “Newsweek” reported, “Once again the perversity of human nature has confounded our expectations (“Innocence Lost” 11/14/94, p. 27).
The BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) killer longed for personal attention. At one point he wrote a note: How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper?”
With the focus on me, the love for others grows cold… Jesus warned us about this:
Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold
The opposite of the Spirit-filled life is the self-filled life. The antidote to love growing cold is the Spirit’s fruit of kindness…
SCRIPTURAL DEFINITION OF KINDNESS:
- Kindness in the Old Testament – translated from the Hebrew chesed: acts of kindness or mercy.
This is a term used to describe the actions of God and people. 90% of the time it is linked with the word “show”; kindness is seldom an attribute – always an action.
- Kindness in the New Testament – translated from the Greek crhstos(khray-stot’-ace): kindness, utility, usefulness.
Again, this is a term that describes action. Unless you are doing something, you are not crhstos. Some of you who know a little Greek will be thinking . . . “that word crhstos sounds very much like another familiar Greek word: Cristos (Christos)”
Being kind – crhstos – to someone
is only one letter away from being Christ – cristos – to them.
What does scripture have to say about this fruit of the Spirit, about kindness?
KINDNESS IN SCRIPTURE:
- Show kindness to our ENEMY (Matthew 5.44; Luke 6.27-35; Romans 12.20).
But 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 sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
We should speak kindly to our enemy:
There is a saying…
Always keep your words soft and sweet;
they won’t be as hard to swallow if you have to eat them.
Another saying says…
If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
- Show kindness to the NEEDY (Proverbs 14.21,31; 19.17).
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the NEEDY honors God.
What a difference true kindness can make on a life.
Eric Butterworth tells about a college professor who had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get case histories of 200 young boys. Asked to write an evaluation of each boy’s future, in every case the students wrote, “He hasn’t got a chance.”
Twenty-five years later, another sociology professor came across the earlier study. He had his students follow up on the project to see what had happened to those boys. With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or died, the students were surprised to learn that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors, businessmen, ministers and other professions.
Astonished at these findings, the professor decided to investigate for himself. Fortunately, most of the men were in the area, and he was able to ask each one, “How do you account for your success, especially in the light of your deprived childhood?” Without exception, the reply came with feeling, “There was a teacher.”
The professor sought out the teacher who was still alive. He asked the now retired but vibrant lady what magic formula she had used to lift these boys out of their depressing surroundings into such remarkable achievement. Her eyes sparkled and her face broke into a gentle smile. “It’s really very simple,” she said. “I really loved those boys.”
Mother Teresa counsels: “Spread love everywhere you go – first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor . . . Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting . . . and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other.”
- Show kindness to EVERYONE (1 Thessalonians 5.15; Ephesians 4.32; 2 Timothy 2.24-26).
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong,
but always try to be kind to each other and to EVERYONE else.
-1 Thessalonians 5.15
A beauty product company asked the people in a large city to send pictures along with brief letters about the most beautiful women they knew. Within a few weeks thousands of letters were delivered to the company.
One letter in particular caught the attention of the employees and soon it was handed to the company president. The letter was written by a young boy who was obviously from a broken home, living in a run-down neighborhood. With spelling corrections, an excerpt from his letter read: “A beautiful woman lives down the street from me. I visit her every day. She makes me feel like the most important kid in the world. We play checkers and she listens to my problems. She understands me and when I leave she always yells out the door “I’m proud of you son.”
The boy ended his letter saying, “This picture shows you that she is the most beautiful woman. I hope I have a wife as pretty as her.”
Intrigued by the letter, the president asked to see this woman’s picture. His secretary handed him a photograph of a smiling, toothless woman, well-advanced in years, sitting in a wheelchair. Sparse gray hair was pulled back in a bun and wrinkles that formed deep furrows on her face were somehow diminished by the twinkle in her eyes.
“We can’t use this woman,” explained the president, smiling. “She would show the world that our products aren’t necessary to be beautiful.”
Story of being at McDonalds in Brookings
Story of Steven coming for assistance this week – opening our parking lot
Practical ways that you can exhibit kindness…
“Spread love everywhere you go – first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor . . . Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting . . . and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other.”
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 4:3