Thursday, March 22, 2012

Soft But Strong

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

People are often confused about the fruits of kindness and goodness in a believer’s life. Maybe it’s because different words are used in different translations. Maybe it’s because they stop paying attention to this list as soon as they read “patience”. Maybe it’s because they think they know what it means already. But I want you to see that kindness and goodness are necessary in a believer’s life! Not only does every Christian need these two characteristics, they need each other to work properly!

You see, the fruit of kindness and the fruit of goodness balance each other out.

Kindness is probably the fruit the world expects from Christians. If you were to describe it in today’s terms, this fruit makes you “nice”. This is beyond a smile and cheerful words - this is an action word!

Like all the fruit of the Spirit, kindness is an attribute of God Himself! Ephesians 2:7 says, “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” The riches of God’s grace are given to us in kindness! According to Titus 3:4-5, it was God’s kindness that saved us!
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
Here we see that kindness is attached to mercy!

In Luke 6:35 Jesus tells us that we are supposed to possess the same kind of kindness that God has. “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”
A believer is required to be kind, even to his enemies!

Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind to our brothers and sisters - even if they’ve wronged us! “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” If you’re ignoring, avoiding, and being hostile to a brother or sister because of what they did to you - you’re lacking God’s kind of kindness in your life!

Godly kindness is not optional or disposable! It is absolutely necessary to keep the love of God alive in our hearts. Still, kindness cannot be unbalanced in a believer’s life.

Kindness is not tolerance of sin! It was never intended to be an excuse for compromise. It is never right to be kind to the oppressor at the expense of the oppressed. When injustice is allowed - when the wicked go free in society - it’s not God’s kind of kindness.

You see, sometimes speaking the truth isn’t always the world’s idea of being kind. But is it really a kind thing to let a sinner continue in their sin and not confront them? Jesus was always kind, but He was always good also!

Goodness is an internal conviction of right and wrong. It is a strong uprightness of heart. Today we call it “character.” Kindness is about how we treat others, goodness is about right and wrong! Goodness is sometimes direct, and many worldly people view it as mean-spirited. But goodness is not cruel or mean. In fact, a good person will confront a cruel person about their cruelty!

Goodness refuses to back down to evil. Romans 12:21 says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Luke 23 calls Joseph of Arimathea a “good man” because he openly disagreed with the pharisee’s condemnation of Jesus. Romans 15:14 tells us that a believer’s goodness will admonish, or warn others about sin! So can you see that goodness isn’t always perceived as kind?

Kindness and goodness need each other!

Kindness without goodness to strengthen it  is simply tolerance. It brings no change to the sinner. It brings no conviction. It simply leaves people to the consequences of their own sin for fear of confrontation.

Goodness without kindness to soften it is damaging. We are required to speak the truth in love. When a believer to be brash and arrogant when confronting sin, it usually hurts the hearer. We are never called to condemn the sinner with his sin! There’s a baby somewhere in that dirty bath water!

The cross is the best example of God’s kindness and goodness. At the cross, God’s goodness toward sin was poured out on Jesus. He didn’t ignore the penalty of our sin, but He poured it out on Jesus. He did this to show us His kindness!

No comments:

Post a Comment