Here is the ninth sermon in a Sunday night sermon series that I’m preaching here at the church I pastor.
THE ART OF BEARING FRUIT PART 9
KINDNESS – LOVE SHOWING MERCY
Galatians 5:22-23 TNIV – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
INTRO: This is part 9 in our Sunday PM series, “The art of bearing fruit.” We are looking at this in a more devotional way than normal. I’m gleaning some insights from W. Philip Keller’s book, “A gardener looks at the fruit of the Spirit.”
Here is what he wrote in his chapter on kindness: Of all the fruits of God’s gracious Spirit kindness is perhaps the one with which most of us are somewhat familiar. We have had this facet of love expressed to us in wondrous ways. In turn there have been times when our own best moments we, too, have shown great kindness to others. This healing, compassionate, merciful virtue that ebbs and flows amongst us is sometimes called the milk of human kindness. Kindness is invariably associated with mercy. It is impossible to be kind without being merciful. Likewise to be merciful is to be kind. It implies that there is a deep and genuine concern for another. This concern is one of compassion and mercy. We are moved to be kind because we care. Caring is the essence of God’s selfless love expressed to another. Kindness is also bound up tightly with honesty and respect. It embraces the whole ideal of dealing with another person in deep integrity. Because I regard and respect others as individuals, regardless of their culture, creed, color or social standing, I treat them in a kindly manner. I endeavor to be helpful and understanding because of a genuine interest in them. True kindness is not tainted or tarnished with haughtiness. It is leveling with others in love, reaching out to help where it hurts.
I want to emphasize something he said in that quote. “Caring is the essence of God’s selfless love expressed to another.” That phrase, “God’s selfless love,” really just pierced my heart as I read it. God’s kindness toward us is an extension of His selfless love. God’s love is not selfish – but self-giving. The evidence of this is Jesus coming to earth and laying down His life for us while we were still sinners. That’s what it means to be kind.
Kindness isn’t produced by conceit, but humility before God. Kindness reaches out to others in love to heal hurts and restore the broken.
Let’s look deeper into this subject tonight.
1. God’s great kindness.
Kindness of course is another manifestation, or facet of love. Kindness is not mere play-acting, but love-giving. It gets involved with the personal sorrows and strains of others. It bears the pains of others. It identifies with them.
True kindness is a characteristic of God our Father. He cares for people. He sent Jesus to live on this earth and share in our suffering.
Hebrews 2:18 AMP – For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].
Through the sufferings of Christ we become enriched, or abundantly supplied because of God’s kindness toward us.
2 Corinthians 8:9 AMP – For you are becoming progressively acquainted with and recognizing more strongly and clearly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favor and spiritual blessing), [in] that though He was [so very] rich, yet for your sakes He became [so very] poor, in order that by His poverty you might become enriched (abundantly supplied).
His kindness is extended toward us.
Psalm 117:2a NKJV -<!–strong> For His merciful kindness is great toward us…
This verse should be a reminder that the mercy, compassion, and kindness of God flows to us freely and abundantly everyday.
Here is what W. Philip Keller further wrote concerning kindness: “It is the kindness of God, expressed in Christ and revealed to us by His Spirit that supplies my salvation. His kindness makes provision for my pardon from sins and selfishness at the cost of His own laid down life. It is His kindness that forgives my faults and accepts me into His family as His dearly beloved child. His kindness enables me to stand acquitted of my wrongdoing, justified freely in His presence. God’s kindness removes my guilt and I am at one with Him and others in peace. His kindness enables me to be re-made, refashioned, reformed gently into His likeness.”
The kindness of God not only enriches us spiritually, but wholly, or morally and physically as well. Because of His kind love toward us, all we have and experience from Him is an expression of His kindness.
James 1:17 TNIV – very good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
2. Living in Christ-like kindness.
Matthew 5:43-48 TNIV – 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Verse 48 AMP -<!–strong> You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It is easy to be kind to friends and those who like you. But Christ-like kindness goes beyond that – it expresses kindness to those who don’t deserve it. How? By loving our enemies; Praying for those who persecute you; Blessing those who curse you.
To live this way is not weak, but courageous! It means that we extend kindness, even though we won’t receive it back. It also means that we must be kind to those who misunderstand us and what we say and do. People can be very miss trusting, but we must be kind to them even in the midst of mistrust.
3. The gracious side of kindness.
When God by His gracious Spirit begins to produce the fruit of kindness in the garden of our lives, He is producing His character in us. God is kind and He cannot be otherwise. It is His very nature, His character. When we surrender our lives to Him and allow Him to work on us as a garden, it will start to become part of our character as well.
4. Counterfeit kindness.
With everything – there is true and false kindness. Kindness does not tolerate sin. It seeks to correct and gently restore the sinner.
When parents correct their children – they are really doing it from a kind heart for 2 reasons: To warn them that they are on the wrong path; and to gently restore them to the right path.
So counterfeit kindness (which allows sin and wrong desires) is really not kindness at all. Why?
Because it shows a lack of love and care for the individual.
5. True kindness is caring.
Caring enough to warn others of the wrong direction they are taking. Caring enough to gently restore when repentance is brought forth. Caring enough to bear one another’s burdens. Caring enough to thing of ways to brighten and bring joy to people’s lives.
CONCL: We could go on, but we are going to stop here. Here is a final quote from W. Philip Keller: “Kindness need not be anything grandiose or complicated. But it does take time and thought and love. A powerful sure way to promote its production in our lives is to remind ourselves often of the great kindness of God toward us.” Seek to be selfless and kind in a selfish, kind-less world. Next time we will look at goodness.