************ Sermon on Galatians 5:22e ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 15, 2004
"The Fruit of the Spirit is ... Kindness"
Topic: KindnessWe would have to say that Mr. James showed kindness.
Subtopic: Examples of
One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African-American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her (generally this was unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s). The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him and drove away.
Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant combination console color TV and stereo record player were delivered to his home. A special note was attached. The note read:
"Dear Mr. James:
Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.
Mrs. Nat 'King' Cole."
We continue our study this morning of the fruit of the Spirit. The Lord tells us that Spirit-filled Christians and churches – and I don't need to remind you that there are no other kinds of Christians and churches – have the spiritual fruit of kindness. Don't forget, the Lord is a Gardener. He walks through His garden, His church, and He looks for the fruit of the Spirit. He looks for kindness in your life and my life. Does He find it?
I The Weed to be Rooted Out
A "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... kindness." In our flower and vegetable garden at home we can expect to reap a harvest and collect fruit only when we hoe out the weeds. We need to hoe out the weeds because they prevent growth and maturity. Likewise, to cultivate the fruit of kindness, Christians need to hoe out the weeds that prevent growth and maturity. When it comes to kindness the weeds that needs to be rooted out are pride and selfishness and jealousy. You see, pride and selfishness and jealousy all prevent kindness. The Bible gives us a couple of examples of this.
John's third letter tells us about Diotrephes. Diotrephes always wanted to be first (3 Jn 9). His selfishness led him to reject the words of John. But soon he went beyond this and began to "gossip ... maliciously about us" and refused to welcome brothers and sisters in the Lord (vs 10). This reminds us that no one can feed their own ego and look after the needs of others. Diotrephes was not a kind man. He was a bully, a liar, and a rebel against God's order in the church.
The book of Numbers tells us about the time Aaron and Miriam were unkind to their brother Moses. Out of jealousy and some sort of sibling rivalry they said to each other, "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn't he also spoken through us?" (Num 12:2). Their jealousy led them to rebuke their brother at a time when he needed all the encouragement he could get as leader of an often difficult and rebellious people (Num 12:1-3).
The Apostle Paul was usually an example of godliness and holiness. But there is at least one instance where he too failed in terms of kindness. When Barnabas and Paul set out on their first missionary journey they took John Mark with them as their helper (Acts 12:25; 13:5). For whatever reason, Mark defected before the journey was half over (Acts 13:13). Perhaps he was homesick, afraid, or ill. When the time came to start the next missionary tour, strong disagreement arose between Paul and Barnabas over taking John Mark with them. Paul didn't want to take John Mark because he had deserted them once before; Barnabas wanted to give John Mark another chance because he wanted to encourage the young man. The disagreement became so sharp that Paul and Barnabas parted ways. Perhaps if Paul would have been more bending, perhaps if he would have been more gentle and kind, there never would have come this break between the two men. Certainly Paul was sorry, since later he asked John Mark to join him in Rome (2 Tim 4:11). And, after this Paul filled his letters with admonitions to be gentle and kind.
B To harvest the fruit of kindness we not only have to remove the weeds of pride and selfishness and jealousy but we also have to get rid of artificial fruit. POINT TO THE GRAPES ON THE COMMUNION TABLE. We all know this is not real, that it is artificial, that you cannot eat them. Likewise, we can't be satisfied with artificial kindness. This is kindness that is shown in order to manipulate people.
The Bible gives us a number of examples of this artificial fruit. Think of Jacob who showed kindness to Esau with the bowl of stew (Gen 25:27); but his purpose was to take Esau's birthright. Think of Jael who treated Sisera to a bottle of milk and a place to sleep (Judges 4:18ff); but her purpose was to kill him by pounding a tent peg through his temple. Think of Delilah who spoke words of love and devotion to Samson (Judges 16:4ff); but her purpose was to cut his hair and rob him of his strength.
The Lord knows how people can use kindness in order to gain one's ends. Therefore He forbade the judges of Israel to receive gifts from the people. This way no act of kindness could turn the eyes of the judge from the issues to the people involved.
We too should never try to manipulate each other with acts of kindness. There is one method for gaining our goals in this world. And that method is prayer to Almighty God.
II The Fruit to be Cultivated
A "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... kindness." Throughout his letters Paul uses a number of words to describe God's love toward us: rich in mercy, great love, grace, kindness (Eph 2:14ff; Titus 3:4). The point is, kindness is an attribute of God, and this attribute is re-created in people at the moment of their new birth.
Ask believers and unbelievers alike the single quality that strikes them most about Christ, and chances are they will speak of His understanding, tenderness, gentleness, or kindness. As far as sinful man is concerned, this is one of God's primary attributes. That's why people love to hear what Isaiah says:
(Is 40:11) He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.And for the same reason they love what David says in Psalm 23:
(Ps 23:1-4) The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. (2) He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, (3) he restores my soul ... (4) ... your rod and your staff, they comfort me.The rod was used to beat off wild animals attacking the sheep, but the staff was for a far different purpose. At the end of the long staff there was a hook just large enough to fit snugly around the sheep's breast. When a sheep would fall off the path into one of the deep gullies the shepherd would reach down with his staff and lift him. Or, when a sheep would begin to stray, the shepherd would hook him with his staff and gently pull him back onto the path. What David did for his sheep, God did for David. God is kind!
The greatest act of kindness, of course, is the cross (Is 54:8; Rom 2:4; Eph 2:7; Titus 3:4). In a incredible act of kindness the Lord Jesus died on the cross so we could be forgiven and granted eternal life.
You and I, born again by and filled with the Spirit, are to imitate God.
B Probably no passage speaks more clearly to kindness than does the parable of the Good Samaritan.
A lawyer asked Jesus how he might inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him, "What does the Bible say?" The lawyer replied with the law of love – love God above all and your neighbor as yourself. The lawyer, wanting to justify his unequal treatment of people, then asked, "Who is my neighbor?" The Pharisees, don't forget, taught that only some and not all men were neighbors. Samaritans, Gentiles, tax-collectors, shepherds, tanners, and others were considered as enemies and therefore no love needed to be shown to them.
In His parable Jesus spoke of a man who had been robbed, beaten, left half-dead. Who would show him kindness? Not a priest, not a Levite. These were the leaders among the Jews; the lower classes were expected to follow their example. The priest and the Levite were neither kind nor merciful. But the Samaritan was! He was moved with compassion, treated the man's wounds with oil and wine and bound them up, and then brought him to an inn for recovery. He even paid the injured man's expenses.
When it comes down to it, the lawyer asked the wrong question. He asked, "Who is my neighbor?" as though he could make a list of those who are and those who are not. Jesus raised and answered the real question: "To whom should I act as a neighbor?" His answer: "I should be a neighbor, I should be kind, to whoever needs me."
The Parable of the Good Samaritan helps us to define kindness. Kindness means availability, usefulness, benevolence, and care to anyone with a need. Kindness means selflessness instead of selfishness. Kindness means we give ourselves to and for others.
III Cultivating Kindness
A "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... kindness." No farmer can expect to reap a harvest, no gardener can expect to fill a freezer or pick a bouquet, if the seed is not cultivated. Boys and girls, I'm sure you remember that on Pentecost Sunday we planted some pea seeds in jars. HOLD UP JARS OF SEEDS. Notice the peas that are growing. What it comes down to is this: to get peas, I have to cultivate for peas. In the same way we must cultivate the seed of new life the Spirit of God has planted within us if we hope to reap a harvest of kindness. Now, what exactly can we do to cultivate kindness?
B "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... kindness." First of all, we must make or take time for kindness. Consider the case of the Good Samaritan. He could have rushed to his next appointment in Jericho. He could have said he had neither the time nor the money. Yet, he took the time and the trouble to help the wounded man. This is Jesus' point to the lawyer who prompted the parable. After telling the parable Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." "Go and be a neighbor." "Go and take the time to be kind."
It is possible to so wrap oneself in a cause, a job, a hobby, a sport, that there is no time for kindness even for loved ones.
There is a tragic story about Lenin that illustrates this. Lenin wrapped himself in his revolutionary work until he lost almost all capacity for tenderness and kindness. Those about him said he was a most miserable man.
Although married, Lenin gave little love to his wife. One evening she rose exhausted from looking after her dying mother and asked Lenin, who was writing at a table, to awaken her if her mother needed her. Lenin agreed and his wife collapsed into bed. The next morning she awoke to find her mother dead and Lenin still at work. Distraught, she confronted Lenin, who replied, "You told me to wake you if your mother needed you. She died. She didn't need you."
Title: John Brown
Consider also the case of John Brown. Many of you might know how John Brown worked mightily to free Afro-Americans from slavery. What many don't know is that his wife and 13 children were back in the mountains starving. History records for us that 9 of his children actually died of malnutrition and 2 more were killed by raiding parties when he was not around to defend his family. Here was a man dedicated to a noble cause. Yet, he could not take the time to show kindness to his own family. As Christians we cannot admire someone like this.
Contrast these two men with the Lord. Jesus was important. He was busy. Often He was tired and hungry. Yet, we see Him taking the time to be gentle and kind to the small children crowding around Him. He visits with the woman at the well and sparks a fire in her heart. He stoops in the sand to restore a fallen woman. It is heart-warming to think of how much time Jesus spent just being tender and kind with people.
Kindness takes time. Great people not only have a heart for kindness, but also make the time for kindness.
C "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... kindness." Sometimes the kindest act simply requires a tender touch. It seems strange that in an age when we can reach the moon, bounce signals off far planets, and receive pictures from whirling satellites, we have great difficulty with reaching out and touching someone. We need to learn again the value of the tender touch.
Topic: KindnessThe Good Samaritan was not content with helping from a distance – telling the inn keeper or the authorities about someone on the side of the road. No, he applied the personal touch to the injured man.
Title: A Gentle Touch
In her memoirs Concert Pianist Marta Korwin tells of her volunteer work as a nurse during World War II. Late one night going through the wards, she noticed a soldier whose face was buried in his pillow. He was sobbing and moaning into the pillow. She quickly realized it was a gentle touch, not medication or food that would help him. She took his head in her arms and held him. His sobs quieted down, his hands released their grip, and he fell asleep. This is the power of the tender touch. For hurting, lonely people it is an act of kindness.
I remember a young people retreat when I was 16 or 17. At the retreat a girl and I had a run-in with each other about something – I don't remember what it was about. We avoided each other and had little use for each other after that.
The retreat ended with a hugging line. I came up to that girl. I looked at her. She looked at me. We hugged and apologized to each other – it is hard to be unkind to someone you have just hugged. This too is the power of the tender touch.
We need to learn the power of the tender touch in the home again – for it is especially in the home we should see the fruit of the Spirit. Husbands and wives, walk hand-in-hand or with your arms around each other. And families can hold hands around the dinner table when they pray. Again, it is hard to be unkind to someone you have just hugged or touched or held hands with.
A retired judge said he has seen hundreds of juvenile offenders and their parents in his courtroom. Yet, never once in all those years had he even seen a parent touch a youngster, or put his arm around his shoulder, or show any physical sign of affection.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is ... kindness." There is so much hardness in the world. No one, as far as I know, as have ever responded to the Gospel because of legalism, or because of a judgmental attitude, or because of harshness. People respond to love and kindness. Yes, people need to hear about sin and judgment. But they also need to know there is a God Who loves and cares for them and they need to experience that God's people are loving and caring and kind.
I repeat what I said before: Spirit-filled Christians and churches have the spiritual fruit of kindness. So I ask you: is that fruit to be found in your life?; is that fruit to be found in Trinity?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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