Pastor Edward Brouwer 5-6-18 Galatians 5:13-25 Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Paul is giving pastoral advice to the churches in Galatia and is showing how the gospel leads to true freedom to peace—peace with God and peace with others. Don’t live for yourself he says, as though it’s a dog eat dog world—but rather live by the Spirit. Allow the Spirit to produce the fruit of Christ’s character in you. And the fruit we are looking at today is kindness.
Read Galatians 5: 16-25
We recognize kindness when we see it and we like it. Glen Campbell wrote a song “If you try a little kindness, then you’ll overlook the blindness, of the narrow minded people, on the narrow streets.”
I saw this at work last weekend when I was at a couples wedding shower. People were asked to give sage advice for a happy marriage to the young couple. Things like “have a sense of humor, don’t take yourself too seriously”. But one piece of advice struck me for its brevity and simplicity. “Be kind”. I think we can all resonate with that advice. Don’t be a jerk. Be thoughtful, be warm and give fully of yourself. Not only will you be a happier person but also I can guarantee that you will make the people around you happier. Kindness, like so many things, operates on the principle of the harvest. Jesus spoke of it this way “what you sow you will also reap”. And the law of the harvest is the principle that you typically reap more of whatever it is you sowed. One potato yields handfuls of potatoes. One bean yields a mess of beans. One act of kindness usually evokes other acts of kindness. So be generous with your kindness.
Paul wants the people of Christ to be a community of God’s people that are different than the world. He reminds them of how they used to operate. Take a look at the list, and as we look at this list thinking in terms of kindness—how many of these acts or scernaios, are born out of a selfish, me-centered attitude rather than an other-centered heart of kindness?
Sexual immorality, impurity and sensuality—the focus here is on self, of using others for personal gratification, objectifying others for self—these are the antithesis of kindness because they are not focused on the best interest of the other.
Idolatry, and sorcery—these may seem to not be issues for us today but I would submit that these are still real today because they focus on worshipping self or things, or believing the subtle seductive lies of Prince of darkness—living and operating out of an attractively deceptive reality that is not centered on Christ. Today in our culture that may be that your personal comfort becomes an idol—pamper yourself and above all avoid pain! By placing yourself on the throne of your own life you are worshipping yourself and your own interests. Kindness is others focused. I’m not saying don’t be kind to yourself—for sure Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself” You do need to have a healthy understanding of kindness to self—getting the rest you need, eating healthfully, a balance of work and play—and yes even appropriate boundaries with others—so that you do not become a doormat. In another place Paul puts it this way “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also the interests of others”— in a word “have this way of thinking among yourselves: the mind of Christ” (Phil 2:3-5)
This counterintuitive (non-worldly) way of thinking that stems of kindness definitely applies to the rest of the list—every one of the following characteristics of “me-first” thinking can lead to these: strife, jealousy, anger, rivalry, dissensions, divisions, and envy”
Paul is saying don’t go there! You will only regret it. That path is strewn with broken hearts, broken relationships and yes, even broken bodies! RATHER the better way is to live by the Spirit! Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in your lives! Application: practice acts of kindness today. Purposefully and intentionally go out of your way to be friendly, courteous and generous with others today. Start with your spouse. Sow the seeds of grace and kind words and thoughtfulness that no marriage can do without. Kids: apply the golden rule to your siblings by treating them the way you want to be treated. How about at work? Think of concrete ways to be kind to your co-workers. Instead of plotting their demise because they took your last drink from the staff kitchen—go ahead a stock the fridge!
I have to say this, and I often say this. Our new life in Christ is not some new taskmaster driving us to “do-more and try harder” as though this is some religion with a long lists of does and don’ts and “if it’s going to be it’s up to me” kind of thinking.
Jesus Christ wants to, indeed He enables you and me, He empowers you and me, to grow in HIS character. And a fundamental quality of the nature and character of Christ is kindness. Now on some level every one of us, made in the image of God, is able to reflect kindness. Every human has the potential for this quality because it reflects the character of God. Mind you, that image was fundamentally marred in the Garden of Eden. That quality was profoundly damaged–yes there are hints of it but it’s only in Christ that that image is restored. Let me give you a picture of the way Christ wants to restore that in us. Our family was talking about color blindness yesterday. Evidently the eye has numerous cones and rods that basically absorb and interpret three main colors—blue, green and red. Color blindness is the inability to differentiate certain colors. But science has come up with a way to compensate. Have any of you seen the YouTube video of a boy receiving corrective glasses from his parents? It brings tears of joy to my eyes. Now for the first time this young lad can see, in true vivid and living color what he’s not been able to see before. He is beside himself with joy. In a way, that is what Jesus has done for us by faith. He comes into our life and restores the true image of God in us—he enables us to see and experience for the first time, things as they really are—without the distortion of sin.
Paul summarized this quality and act of Christ’s kindness to his dear friend Titus (3:-45). “But when the kindness and goodness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, NOT by any deeds which we had done, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit”.
In mercy Christ came to this earth in the Incarnation, to save us. We were lost and we could not find our way—blinded by sin and Satan. But the Good Shepherd came, leading us beside still waters, restoring our soul. He did that by paying the price for our sins, sacrificing his life to redeem our life. In kindness HE who had the riches of heaven, became poor for us, that WE might become rich toward God. Christ is the embodiment of God’s kindness, and he welcomes you to taste and see that He is good. He invites every believer who truly trusts in him to come to this table and experience His life.