Friday, May 10, 2013

Ingredient #2 - Kindness (Love - Part 4)

" is kind..."
I Corinthians 13:4

If she said it once, my mother said it a thousand times - "You treat your friends better than your sisters!"  Now, I can quote my mom here or I can own the statement, as I'm sure my children have heard this declaration leap from my lips in the past.  But it's a very true statement - families tend to treat others with more kindness than they treat themselves.

Really, Kristen?  I don't think that happens in our home.

How about a few examples?
  • Do your children fight over where they sit in the car?  Do they fight with their friends over where they sit in their car? at school? when the friend comes over to your house?
  • Last doughnut in the box on the kitchen counter.  Do your children offer it to their siblings or snatch it away without a thought?  How about when a friend is over?  Do they offer the doughnut to them first?
  • Do your children call each other names? Do they call their friends those same names?
  • Okay, time to really get personal - quick are you to forgive your husband?  Do you need a cool down time so that he can sit in the awareness of what he's done to you?  How about with friends? Do you forgive quickly when they ask forgiveness or do you make them suffer a bit, too?
  • Husbands - are you as impatient with your co-workers when they tell you a story as you are with your wife when you get home?  Do you turn up the volume on your computer when they're talking to you, like you do on the television when you're wife is talking to you?
  • Believers - why is it easier to forgive and extend kindness towards an unbeliever but when someone in the church hurts you, you struggle to get over it?  
The second ingredient we are now going to add to our pot is kindness.  Kindness is defined as being considerate, helpful and generous by nature.  So what are some acts of kindness?
  • giving up your seat on a crowded bus to a pregnant woman
  • picking up the tab for dinner when out with friends or inviting someone to your home for dinner
  • doing something to be helpful for someone in your house - cleaning, organizing, reading, finding, washing, editing, head-massaging (I threw that in just in case my daughters were reading this)
  • using edifying words rather than critical words
So, considerate, helpful and generous acts of kindness should flow out of your love.  It's easy to love our friends, because we don't live with them.  But day in and day out, through the good and the bad, to show kindness to our family when sometimes they are just downright annoying - that's true love.  And showing kindness to our enemies?  Is that even possible?

By the way, kindness has been modeled to you:
  • "The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds." (Psalms 145:17)
  • "For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy..." (Titus 3:3-5) 
  • "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4)
God is considerate (sending His Son), helpful (sending His Son) and generous by nature (sending His Son).  His kindness towards us leads us to repentance and salvation. And remember, even while we were His enemies, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:10).  So if we desire to imitate Christ and be conformed into His image, we need to foster a considerate, helpful generosity towards not just our friends and family, but also towards our enemies.

A person who has experienced the kindness of God has the ability ( through the power of the Holy Spirit), the desire (to be like Jesus) and the motivation (glorify the Father) to be kind. It's a gospel concept, friends.  Choose to be kind.  

Choose to be considerate of all people - after all, they are image bearers of God, just as you are.  Don't grab that last doughnut, don't hog the remote and don't push your way to the front of the line.  Put others before yourself - be considerate of others feelings, circumstances and limitations.

Choose to be helpful - last week I saw an elderly man frantically searching the pharmacy shelves for something.  After a few minutes, I walked over to him and asked if I could help him find something.  Of course, as my life would have it, he needed to find the stool softener - but in God's gracious timing, it was right within my reach and that awkward moment was over quickly.  But it was an act of kindness - seeing a need and being helpful - being the arms of Jesus.   Friends, be aware of your surroundings and be helpful.  

And finally, choose to be generous - with your time, your money, your energy, your smiles and hugs, your home, your talents and your life.  You have been greatly provided for and as you steward His resources, be generous with them.  

Kindness like this is only going to make your love richer, deeper and more Christ-like.

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