We’ve looked at love, joy, peace, & patience over the last 2 weeks. This week we turn to kindness and generosity.
When you hear the word ???kindness??? you may have a few things that quickly pop into your head. Let me hear from some of you this morning, very quickly: what image comes to you when you hear the word ???kindness???? For me, I think of my grandmothers. I think about how they have always treated me with a kind hand and a kind heart. That kindness made such an impression on me that as I went through life, I found myself always looking for other people that had that kind of life. I wanted to see it, experience it, I wanted to be around it because it affects you. Real kindness instills a kind of trust, a kind of comfort and reliability. You feel cared for, loved, protected. The most redeeming quality about true kindness is never having to sense any harm.
John Wesley had three rules for living that he believed his communities could best learn and grow from. The first was ???do no harm.??? Wesley wanted to create an environment both inside and outside Christians that gave people every reason to trust God and to actually be successful in their pursuit of living a godly life. Doing no harm or exhibiting a lifestyle of kindness creates an atmosphere of trust and safety. One of the worst feelings most people have is feeling as if they are not welcome or are unsafe. We experience great angst and discomfort when when a situation turns unkind.
St. Paul said, Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4.29. Our words have the ability to turn this around very quickly. But still, kindness must go beyond simply words.
Kindness is essential to living a successful Christian life because it captures the very presence of Christ himself as he dealt with those around him. Jesus was able to approach anyone in need because of his kindness. Jesus was approachable by many because of his kindness. Remember when I described my grandmothers, how it was that safety, that trustworthiness, that gave confidence in the relationship? They approached in kindness, to help and heal; they were approachable through kindness for guidance and counsel. This is how it is with Christ.
To be brief, generosity has more to do with being generous with yourself, not simply your resources. Making your heart and your life available to others is the key to generous living. Generosity comes from someone who has all the other fruit we???ve talked about but also understands sacrifice. For real generosity, there is no greater example than that of God himself.
God gave his only Son. Sacrifice. It pleased God to give of himself in such a way. But Christ also laid down his life for us. Sacrifice. It pleased Jesus to go to the cross for all of us. Why? Go back to what we???ve said about joy a few weeks ago, that for the sake of the joy set before him, he endured the cross, just as the scripture tells us in Hebrews 12.2. But notice here that the ransom God paid for our sins wasn???t monetary. He didn???t write a check for the debt. God gave of something much deeper than his resources. God gave of himself.
As we look to this example of godly generosity, forget the money, forget the resources. It isn???t the stuff that God wants us to give of; it is of our selves. I love what David says in Psalm 51 when he says, For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. When we give of ourselves, that is when we get it; that is when it is clear that our giving has come from depth, from our center.
Kindness is a presence. Generosity i
s a sacrifice. Bless you all this week.
s a sacrifice. Bless you all this week.
Rev. Whit R. Martin