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The Fruit of the Spirit (Pt. 6): Kindness

I must confess that writing a blog about kindness is really hard. The principle is easy to understand yet hard to apply to real life. Acts of kindness are prevalent when things are going well and life is great.   Yet kindness becomes a profoundly difficult task when I am having a bad day or dealing with people that irritate me. I heard a story the other day about a guy who was having a tough day. Nothing was going right and he was running way behind. He had to stop at the store to pick something up, and on his way out of the store he saw a woman just sitting in her car. He was running late and so he pushed past her and kept moving to his truck. He could not afford interruptions now.  Yet the Holy Spirit kept nudging his heart, and he finally gave in.  He returned to the store, bought some flowers and took them over to the woman. He realized the woman had been crying and he was able to encourage her and reveal the love of God to a woman he had never met, and likely will never see again.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you”(Eph 4:32). We recognize that kindness like all the fruits of the spirit is not something that we are able to do in our own strength.  It can only be achieved by abiding in Christ (John 15). Our job then becomes the obedience to act upon his promptings in our lives. God doesn’t override our hearts and force kindness, he gives us the ability and desire, but the act of faith is to obey and act in kindness when He reveals opportunities to us.  Christ also encourages us to be kind even to our enemies (Luke 6:23) or those people that just drive us nuts. Lastly, God marks us with His kindness, so that it just radiates in our lives (Proverbs 3:3). It is as if we are branded with Christ kindness. Literally, God call us to “outdo” everyone in kindness.

I take away two things for the story above. First people all around us need to see God through our kindness. God gives us a wonderful opportunity to minister to people and share the gospel by our life and works of kindness.  I call this lifestyle evangelism.  Next, there are people in each of our lives that are hard to love and be kind to.  This could be a family member, friends, coworkers, clients/customers or even someone with a goal to irritate us.  We do not naturally offer kindness to enemies, yet God wants to show Himself real by transferring His love into our hearts and giving us the desire to be kind.  Ask God to help you if you are struggling to be kind to your enemy, and watch God do something exciting. 

           

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Stop Talking!

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Ever have those times when God just smacks you in the face with His Word? For me, this came in the form of a Proverb this week. I was reading in Proverbs 10 and ran across this: “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise” (verse 10). As someone who has apologized to three different people in the last two weeks for unintentionally saying hurtful things, I had to stop and ask the question, "Is the problem simply talking to much?"

For me the trouble goes something like this: I am in a conversation with someone and in an attempt to be funny or unthinkingly sharing what is in my mind, without checking the value of that comment, I end up saying something that is hurtful to the other person. In either case it was an avoidable situation by simply slowing down the mouth and tuning up the ear.

In the book of James, the author tackles this very topic. He spends a great deal of time in chapter three on the destructive, sinful nature of speaking. Even before he lays out the case for this he gives us the answer in chapter one, verse 19: “My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak…”.

We will never regret what isn’t said. After all, if it’s important you can always say it later. Regret, however, is the regular companion for those of us who talk to much.

Listen, this Christmas season, let’s all give our ears a good old fashion workout!

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