With Father’s Day coming up and with it being the first one that we’ll be celebrating without my dad, I wrote a blog earlier this week about what he taught me about humility. (Click HERE to read it).
Since that blog was so well received I thought I’d write another one. And just like the last one, while this blog will be a tribute to him, I am writing it in such a way to apply to your life and mine. Here goes…
In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul wrote: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23
While we would love to bear all nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit listed above, there are a few that we tend to demote in order of importance.
We all want more “love” and “joy” and “patience” but “kindness” is most likely not at the top of your prayer list of things to ask God for.
And yet, here is what Paul wrote to the early church in Rome: Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? – Romans 2:4
I love that Scripture because it points out how we often get it wrong. When it comes to wanting people to repent and turn to Jesus, Christians often use fear or guilt or manipulation or the threat of God’s wrath and hell.
But this verse says God’s kindness is the key to everything. God’s kindness is intended to lead people to repentance.
In Jesus in the Mirror, fellow Vineyard pastors Tri Robinson & Jason Chatraw write, “God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. It’s that important. When we’re kind, we’re reflecting the ingredient that draws us to God . . . Given the importance of kindness in reflecting God’s desire to draw people to Himself, it is essential that we take time to examine where we are with kindness in our own lives.”
So with that in mind, let me ask you some questions…
How do you tend to treat people who are there to serve you? Like when you go to a restaurant, how do you treat a waitress? If you go to Wal-Mart, how do you treat the cashier? Think about how you treat them and does the word “kind” describe your behavior?
Next question. How would you treat others if you were rushed to the emergency room due to shortness of breath and severe pain?
Next question. Let’s up the ante. How about if you were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer? Would you be “short” with those around you after getting that diagnosis and prognosis?
Would you feel like you earned a free pass to be less than “kind” toward your loved ones and anyone else that crossed your path?
As you all know unfortunately that series of questions is not hypothetical, but questions I began to ask myself over the last 2 months of my dad’s life as I saw him in action.
Because over and over and over again, my dad was kind to me, to my mom, to my brother, to our kids. And he was kind anyone else that crossed his path, from the ER doctors to his oncologist to the nurses to the orderlies.
One example of this still stands out in my mind. It was the day that dad went to the ER for the final time. By this point he knew he was very sick and intensive care was on the near horizon.
He had already been in the ER a half dozen times, and because of that he began to recognize the staff. And that’s something you hope never happens. Recognizing staff in the ER because you are there so often. But that’s what happened to us.
So a nurse came in the room, someone he recognized, someone who had worked on him in past trips to the ER.
And she was trying to poke him to draw blood. As she was struggling to find a vein, he said something to her along these lines: “I know you’ll get it. You always do.”
In Life on the Vine, Phillip Kenneson writes, “Because the Greek word for ‘Christ’ (christos) was so similar to the word for ‘kind’ (chrestos) apparently many people mistakenly (though perhaps fittingly) called Jesus’ early followers not ‘Christians’ but ‘the kind ones.’”
And that quote lead me to think this: We would be way more effective at reaching the world for Christ if we were simply more kind.
Kind to one another. Kind to other Christians who don’t believe every single thing point of doctrine that we do. For Protestants to be more kind to the Catholics. For Catholics to be more kind to the Protestants.
We would be way more effective at reaching the world for Christ if we were simply more kind. Kind to people of other faiths. Kind to people of no faith. Kind to our parents. Kind to our children. Kind to our spouses. Kind when we are sad. Kind when we are mad. Kind when we are angry.
After all… Because the Greek word for “Christ” (christos) was so similar to the word for “kind” (chrestos) apparently many people mistakenly though perhaps fittingly called Jesus’ early followers not “Christians” but “the kind ones.”
***In light of the horrific nightclub shooting in Orlando, I am changing my sermon up a bit. The new title is “Does God Ordain The Bad Things That Happen?” It will still be part of our Building a Wall of Faith series but its application will be broader than originally planned. Here is a sneak preview: When an accident or tragedy happens or when someone gets sick or diagnosed with a disease… Do you get mad at the devil? Do you lament the fact that we live in a fallen world? Or have you found yourself saying (or thinking) something like this: “The Lord works in mysterious ways” or “Everything happens for a reason.” While those quotes make for good sound bytes on greeting cards, do they actually provide comfort for those grieving? And more importantly, do they line up with what the Bible teaches? Please join us on June 19th at 10:30am at The Eastside Vineyard Church. More info at tevchurch.org***