By Jim Willis
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:35 – 36; Ephesians 4:30 – 32
As you know from other articles I don't do New Year's Resolutions choosing instead taking a focus word to and stress during the coming year. I have found over the years that I am more likely to be reminded each day of keeping that focus word over something like "Lose 100 pounds in 6 months or go to Health Works every day." In many cases I find that the focus word leads me to improving my lifestyle in other ways. I have been getting my FOCUS WORDS from Galatians 5:22ff "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness ..."
In past years it was, LOVE, JOY, PEACE, AND LAST YEAR IT WAS PATIENCE...I have to be honest PATIENCE taught me just how impatient I am! This year my focus word is KINDNESS.
God wants to bring about some changes within all of us, for He is trying to make us better men and women. To do this God sent his Son to save us from the consequences of sin and to demonstrate the quality of life that he intended for humanity from the beginning. He also sent his Holy Spirit to dwell within us to deliver us from the power of evil in the world. This precious Holy Spirit has come to reproduce within us both the CHARACTER of Christ and the ABUNDANT LIFE that Christ makes possible for those who trust him.
Christ came to do more than die for our sins...Intending to do more than taking us to heaven when we die and saving us from eternity in hell with the devil and his angels, Christ purposed to help us break with attitudes, ambitions, and actions that are both self-destructive and harmful to others. He came to give us a new pattern of thinking and a new program of action that lead to abundant life in the here and now. By doing our best to put into practice the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, we are welcoming the Holy Spirit to dwell in us in a dramatic way.
Christ achieves his purpose in us through the gift of his Holy Spirit. Paul encouraged the Philippian Christians to work diligently because God was at work in them (Phil. 2:12 – 13). God sent his Holy Spirit to bring about a divine change within us. This change occurs when we look to the Lord and cooperate with him as he works out God's good purpose within us (1 Cor. 3:18).
Paul listed the inward graces or virtues that the Holy Spirit wants to produce within us. These graces include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, etc.
The famous poet William Wordsworth said, "The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love." Washington Irving described the kind heart in beautiful words: "A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles." Mark Twain declared that "kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." Paul described Christian love by saying, "Love is patient and kind" (1 Cor. 13:4 RSV).
Paul's list of the fruit of the Spirit provides us with a verbal portrait of what Jesus Christ is like and what his disciples can be like with the help of the Holy Spirit. We must not only verbalize the message of Christ, but by the lives we live, we must reveal the reality of Christ within us. Our actions must speak louder than our words.
Jesus is noted for his many acts of kindness throughout His ministry. Time and space would not allow me to list all of them but a few of them are such things as at the Wedding Feast of Cana when the party was about to be an embarrassment because the win had played out. How about when He raised the only son of the Widow of Nain from the dead? Then there is a poor leper whom Jesus touches...a touch the man had not experienced in a long time (at that time you just didn't touch a Leper!) Even at his death he showed kindness to the thief on the cross who was dying next to him.
The Holy Spirit seeks to lead us to act kindly toward others. To be unkind is an act of godlessness.
Have you seen the commercial on TV by the Pass It On group? In it different acts of kindness is displayed. The part of the commercial that caught my attention is a little boy is sitting on a bench eating an ice cream cone; the song is saying "Always be humble and kind" behind him is a little girl and the little boy reaches out and gives the little girl a lick of his ice-cream cone! Other acts of kindness are shown, such as a man helping an older lady with her bag of groceries get on the bus, a group of people helping push to push a stalled car. Other things said are: Don't expect a free ride, don't hold a grudge, Keep away from bitterness and ends with reminding us that Kindness is in you. I have to stop doing whatever I am doing and watch that commercial. In the harsh world we live in this is such a sweet reminder to be KIND!
Jim Willis is standing in for Scott Johnson this week.