Greater: Kindness

This week’s meditation video.

Good morning and welcome to Journey Church.  My name is Phil Human and I’m one of the pastors here on staff.

This summer we are studying how to tap into the greater life offered to us by God through faith in Jesus.  When we come to the place where we think highly enough of Jesus to trust him to govern our lives, then we begin to change from the inside out.

And as we walk with God he begins to rub off on us.   We catch his character.

Some of you know I grew up in New York. And in New York Everyone tawks like this.  What – I thought I was going to tawk like this my whole life – what you gotta problem wit dat?  I didn’t think so…  They talk this – and they rubbed off on me and you know.

Then a funny thing happened y’all.  I moved to Georgia.  I wasn’t fixin’ to pick up a drawl, but you know, after four years of living in Georgia, well I Because I was around people who talked like this, well I recon they rubbed on me.

Then I moved to New England.  And it was wicked awesome.  And I drank water from a bubbla, but the bubbla was leaking water all over the carpet.  It was a real pissah!  I dunno – I guess they rubbed off me.

Then I moved to Omaha and learned how to speak perfect English.  And I find myself using that perfect English to say the weirdest things like, “That’s not cow manure I smell, it’s the smell of money.”  You know it’s actually cow crap, right?  You people rubbed off on me.

The point is this –  the more we hang around God, the closer we get to him, the more He rubs off on us, and we find ourselves imitating God.  Naturally and easily, kindness (loving deeds) flows from us into the lives of others who need it.

This morning we are talking about catching God’s kindness.  God is Kind.  Did you know that?  My guess is if I were to poll a hundred people and ask them what God is like, not one person would begin their list with the word Kind.  And yet, the bible adamantly tells us that God is kind, naturally – easily.  Freely.  Kindness flows from him.

Is this news to you?  Do you view God as an unhappy sort of fellow? Easily agitated?  Perpetually peeved?  Oh but he’s not!  He’s the most joyful being in the universe!  he’s the kindest being in the universe.

Last week we talked about God’s favorite way he describes himself.  Listen to the words he uses to explain to us the kind of God he is…  “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth;  Exodus 34:6 NASB

God is the kindest being in the universe, and he has an infinite supply of kindness.  God sees in us the potential to have immeasurable kindness.

So let’s talk about kindness today.  And the three things we will examine are

  1. What is kindness?
  2. What does Kindness do?
  3. Where shall we display 

What is kindness?

KindnessKindness is loving-deeds. The practical and generous loving-deeds motivated by love for others. It is bearing another’s burden.  Kindness is burden bearing.

Kindness is more than nice.  There are plenty of people in the world that one might call velvet covered bricks.  They are nice – but underneath the niceness lies a hard unmovable brick.  “Oh she’s nice.”  Yeah – nice.  Until you cross her or until she doesn’t get her way, then it’s harshness.  It hardness.

Kindness is far more than the veneer of niceness.  Kindness is practical generosity – it is the willingness to carry the burdens of another by doing something to lessen the load.  Kindness requires us to move out of the realm of words, and into the realm of deeds.

Kindness and good works are intricately tied.  There’s talking and there’s doing.  Kindness belongs squarely in the realm of doing.

So let’s talk now about what kindness does.

What does kindness do?

And the answer is – Kindness delivers healing to a broken, mean world.  It reverses part of the curse of the fall of man.  Kindness restores our world back to it’s truly natural condition.

Let me explain.  In Genesis 3 we read about how Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil to rebel against God’s leadership.  When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, what they were really saying was, “We’ll take it from here.”  We’ve got this.  We will take care of ourselves, thank you.  We don’t trust you enough to allow you to govern our lives.  So we’ll take it from here.

What happens?  The ramifications are immediate.  First – they hide from God.  The first ramification of sin in the world – is spiritual brokenness.  They have separated themselves from God.  And hide from him.  If that describes what you’ve been doing in your life, well, now you know that it’s not unusual – Spiritually, we’ve alienated ourselves from being comfortable and safe in God’s presence.  Spiritual alienation.

The second thing you’ll notice is that Adam and Eve were afraid of God.  They hid because they were afraid.  Up to this point there was no fear.  So sin introducing psychological brokenness – it opens up a world of head games – fear, worry, anxiety, all of these things are a result of sin.

The third thing you will see is that Adam and Eve cover themselves up.  The Bible says they used to walk around each other naked and unashamed.  But sin causes them to break their trust of one another.  They cover up.  There is alienation between one another.  There is relational brokenness.

And the last thing is that because they rebelled, the land itself was cursed, and what once grew freely no had to be cultivated.  Hard work.  By the sweat of your brow you’ll eat.  And so there is introduced a break with nature – and now we have storms, tornado’s, droughts, hardship.  Disease and illness and sickness – all of these things are introduced into the world as a result of sin.

We call them “natural disasters”, but they are actually quite unnatural. Which is why, by the way, when Jesus shows up and he performs miracles – what is he doing?  He is not just doing tricks.  He is restoring things to the way they should have been.  When he heals, when he silences the storms, when he raises the dead, all of these things are simply God putting things back in it’s place.  He’s cleaning up the room, so to speak.  Tidying up the place.  Putting things back to where they should have been.

So where does kindness show up?  If you look at these four ramifications of sin – the first two results of sin – alienation with God and our psychological alienation – fear and worry – these things are remedied by the ministry of words.

Preaching the good news – see this is what I enjoy doing.  I get to speak to you and tell you the good news.  That there is a God who loves you and you need not fear – the ministry of loving words sets people free from the wrong impression of God.

The ministry of words remedies our alienation with God and helps to set us free from a life of worry and dread.

But the third and fourth ramifications of sin?  Alienation with one another, and with the earth?  These things are remedied in large part by the loving deeds.  They require deeds, not just words.

So here’s the deal – the ministry that God has tasked us with is to repair the brokenness of the world.  Jesus has forgiven us in order that we might be his vessel to repair the broken-ness of this world

It is requires both -the combination of loving words and loving works.  It’s not enough to just talk about God’s love.  Jesus didn’t do that – he wasn’t a traveling preacher.  He displayed kindness – loving deeds, as he ministered.

The ministry of kindness is just as important as the ministry of preaching.

There’s this wonderful scene that we read about in Luke chapter 4 – it’s the day that Jesus announces his public ministry.  And he is worshipping in the synagogue and he stands up to read and he unrolls a scroll to the book of Isaiah and reads…

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. 

This is the ministry of words, right?  He’s preaching.  But he’s doing far more…

He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.

And then he sits down and tells the synagogue that this scripture is fulfilled through him. What does he tells us?  Jesus came to preach – words – and to heal, set free, demonstrate the kindness of God.  To not just talk – but do.

Later on Jesus tells people in Matthew 5 that he is going to transform us into the kinds of people who will display not just loving words – but loving deeds – “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Kindness is the practical expressing of loving deeds.  It’s doing something to help alleviate the burdens that result from a sin swept world.

Where is Kindness practiced?

Three areas where kindness should be directed.

Firstly, kindness should run like a river in the church.  Loving deeds.  Caring for one another.

The fruit of the Spirit is love joy peace patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  These things should flow like tap water inside the security of a church.

It’s amazing – check this out.  The church is an amazing institution.  It ought to be.  i know it’s common to hear people say that they love Jesus but not the church, but I think we’d have to say that’s not a healthy church.  Within a healthy church we not only hear the good news – the ministry of words, but we also see the ministry of works.  We carry one another’s burdens.

The church ought to be an alternative city within the city.  There is a Gretna inside of Gretna.  And this city is marked not by the thorns and thistles listed in Galatians 5 –  sexual immorality, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition…

Rather – the church is a place known for love and joy and kindness.  Practical displays of care.

Galatians 6:Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

Love the way the Lord is willing to give us an attitude adjustment when needed.  Get over yourself and be part of the church.  Care enough about people to do something to alleviate their burden.

The church is the first and really, I’d say only institution in the world that has been able to gather together groups of people and place us on level playing fields.  So much so that by 60AD the Apostle Paul can write things like, in the Church, there is no longer any dividing lines.  There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, man or woman.  We are all sinners saved by the kindness of Jesus.  And in this room the only thing that matters is Christ.

In this room we are all sinners saved by grace.  And so we care about one another.  We treat one another with kindness, which means when we see someone in our church family carrying a burden? We do what we can to bear that burden.

Not only though within the church – we also show kindness to an unbelieving world.   A world that sees your kindness and ends up thanking God because you are there.

In about 360AD – The Roman Emperor Julian, the last Pagan Roman emperor – had this to say about the Christians – people he felt were dangerous because they pulled people away from worshipping the roman Gods.  He wrote this…    [Christianity] has been specially advanced through the loving kindness rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single one who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.

I’m so thankful that we here at Journey have evidence of both ministry of the word but also the ministry of good works.  We volunteer to help the hurting at Heartland Hope.  We have an assistance fund that allows us to genuinely say to people – if you need help paying a bill let us know and we will do what can to assist you.

That assistance fund pays for our counseling service with Spence – providing counseling at an affordable rate to whomever desires it.

Overseas, we send money each month to Christopher’s Hope orphanage in Haiti.  We’ve contributed money to help bring health care to people in the remotest parts of Mali Africa.

Now let me simply ask – I say “we”.  But does that include you?  Have you financially contributed to help people in need?  Oh, Phil I’m strapped!  We don’t have the wiggle room to help others.  Well, you know it’s not a burden if you don’t feel it.  Some people say, I’ll help when I can afford to help others.  Well, then you are really saying, I’ll help others when it’s no burden to me to do so.

How can that be considered carrying another’s burden if we don’t ever feel the burden?  Doesn’t carrying a burden imply a level of hardship with it?

No someone might think I’m trying to use this as a fundraiser – I’m not.  If you don’t trust us, then find an organization you do trust – but for heavens sake please give some of your money away to help the poor – to take care of the widows.

Neither, by the way, am I advocating for giving money to people standing in the street corner looking for money.  I don’t ever do that – but what we do is give money to organizations who are helping others.  We are being proactive, not reactive when it comes to helping the poor.

The bottom line though is I should be doing something to care for the poor.  That’s christianity.  James puts it this way

James 2

14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

James is railing on people who want to put all their eggs in the ministry of the word – and not do anything about the ministry of works.  Both are required – and if these words make you uncomfortable – then do not under any circumstances, read what Jesus says in Matthew 25.  When he talks about the day of judgment.  And he tells us that one of the defining characteristics of a life lived for God will be care for the least of these.

Matthew 25

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

This is what kindness looks like.  It is a burden carrier.  It moves and works.  And it was meant to flow like a river in the church, and through the church to a broken world.

But for some in here, and with this I’ll close – perhaps this week it needs to begin to flow in your family.  Students?  Are you kind to your parents?  Spouses, are you treating your husband or wife with kindness?  Is kindness flowing through you?

If not, then bring your brokenness to the Lord and ask him to help you love people enough to treat them kindly.  Repent – change the way you are thinking, and ask God to allow his kindness to rub off on you.

This week’s meditation video.

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