Friday, March 25, 2011

A Conspiracy of Kindness

I left this lesson in outline format but it's still understandable I think.

Ephesians 4:32-32; Col. 3:12f; Romans 12:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Luke 6:35f
 
Conspiracy- agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful act.

It’s getting to the point where unkind actions & words are the norm in our country.

A train was filled with tired people. Most of them had spent the day traveling through the hot dusty plains and at last evening had come and they all tried to settle down to a sound sleep. However, at one end of the car a man was holding a tiny baby and as night came on the baby became restless and cried more and more. Unable to take it any longer, a big brawny man spoke for the rest of the group. "Why don’t you take that baby to its mother?" There was a moment’s pause and then came the reply. "I’m sorry. I’m doin’ my best. The baby’s mother is in her casket in the baggage car."
Again there was an awful silence for a moment. Then the big man who asked the cruel question was out of his seat and moved toward the man with the motherless child. He apologized for his impatience and unkind remark. He took the tiny baby in his own arms and told the tired father to get some sleep. Then in loving patience he cared for the little child all through the night.

Kindness will influence more than eloquence.

Kindness seems to be a thing of the past. Our culture is swept more and more into the mindset of an “eye for an eye.” Every day there are more and more examples of just how cruel people can be to one another. Our society is filled with road rage, getting revenge, bullies in our schools and workplaces. And then there are all the movies and television shows which glorify getting revenge.

Can we really make a difference in our society? The answer is yes and the difference that we can make begins with being examples of simple Christian kindness. Let me ask one question: “What does it really mean to be kind?” 

Kindness Is A Calling

The Apostle Paul said, And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 
Col. 3:12f NIV
Do you have a favorite shirt, pair of jeans, or suit? We all know how good our favorite clothes feel to us!

A. The meaning of kindness
1. The basic meaning: Chrestos is the Greek word we’re discussing.
a.)  Means to be good, fit for use, useful and helpful, considerate and gracious in all situations regardless of circumstances, mild, pleasant as opposed to harsh, hard, sharp, bitter.
b.) This is indeed a difficult calling to answer but it is an essential one to grow more like Christ.
2. The deeper implications
a.) Acknowledgment: Kindness means that we care for the feelings of others and feel with them.
b.) Activity: Kindness shows caring and gets right into the situation with the person
c.) Awareness: Kindness suffers with those who suffer, struggles with those who struggle and works with those who work.

B. The motivation of kindness
1. Three key terms
a.) Kindness: The Greek term for kindness comes from the same word that we get our terms kin or kindred. This literally means that we are to treat others like our own family
b.) Compassion: This means to show mercy, understanding, love and tenderness. It means to be aware of a person’s hurts, sufferings and problems. Compassion is the first step to being kind.
c.) Forgiving: This means to be gracious towards others and not to hold grudges or seek vengeance for wrongs committed against you. It is to pardon others for the wrongs they have done and no longer hold it against them.
2. The key to kindness
a.) The key point that Paul is attempting to drive home here is that we are to treat others with a genuine kindness because of the kindness that God has shown to us through Christ.
b.) It is important to remember the simple fact that without Christ we might be the same kind of person who has done us wrong. Jesus died for those that have done us wrong and loves them just as much as He loves you.
c.) Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.
d.) The next time someone gets on your nerves, treats you badly, gets on your case or mistreats you in any other way, remember that Christ died for them. 

To be continued.

 I first preached this lesson in April 2004. I "borrowed" some of this study from a fellow preacher.
I am forever grateful for what I learned from him.