Monday, March 09, 2009
Current Study: A to Z
Today’s Topic: Kindness
Today’s Scripture: Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Yesterday as I drove home from south Dakota, I was listening to a Christian radio station out of the Twin cities. In between two of the songs the voice of a phone caller to the station was heard. She told a story of kindness. She had been praying for days that God would reveal Himself to her in a meaningful and undeniable way. That day, one her way to work, she noticed a tire on her car going flat. She stopped by the auto shop to have it repaired. When the mechanic came back with her keys he told her that there would be no charge. He said that he had gotten in her car to drive it into the shop and noticed that she was listening to a Christian radio station. He felt the Lord saying to him to pay for the tire repair himself, which he did. She was overwhelmed. God had revealed Himself to her at a time when she was starting to doubt Him even more. Just when she thought things were getting worse, God showed up.
As Paul writes to his pastoral trainee named Titus, he tells him how bad things are for all of us. He says, At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. In another place, writing to the people at Colossae he says, Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. Can it get any worse than that. Our sin made us the enemy of God and completely alienated us from Him. Our sin put us in a position of deserving the wrath of God. But instead of revealing Himself to us in wrath, God chose to reveal Himself to us through kindness.
Here is the central theme of Christianity. When we were in a place of hopelessness because we were unable to do anything to change our condition, God determined to change our condition for us. When everything we were stood opposed to the holy nature of God, and we were by nature the objects of His wrath (Eph. 2:3), His mercy took over. He poured out His love on us through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ and has given us eternal life. We could do nothing to earn it. It was totally His kindness that conquered our condition.
A couple of weeks ago I made a huge blunder in one of my sermons. It happens to all pastors occasionally. This time it caused quite an uproar. I made a statement, that while theologically correct, had very little foundation in the context of that sermon from which to be made. It appeared, from the statement, that I was negating the love of God. It appeared that I was directing people to approach witnessing from a standpoint condemnation and judgment, rather than from the mercy and grace of God. I am doing neither. I made a huge mistake by including that particular theological truth into a sermon without providing proper time to unpack it for our understanding. If you were one of the people offended by my statement, I sincerely apologize and ask for your forgiveness. It is the kindness and love of God that provides us with the opportunity for salvation. It is His mercy that saves us.
It is the example of God in His treatment of His enemies that becomes the foundation for our treatment of people. The wisest man ever to live – King Solomon – knew well how to win people, especially enemies. He said, If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. Centuries later, in his letter to the church at Rome, after quoting this saying of Solomon, said, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. In these words, and in the example of Christ, we find the foundation for the sharing of our faith – kindness. Acts of kindness to people will open their hearts to Christ. Our enemies need to see the love and kindness of God. It is His kindness that draws people to Himself, and His kindness has only one dispenser – YOU!
We have a strong tendency to be judgmental. We seem to take some kind of pleasure or find some kind of personal fulfillment in condemning the activities, behaviors, and even appearances of others. If God, who alone is holy and has every right to condemn, chooses to be kind, then shouldn’t we? Read carefully these words from Paul in Romans 2. You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
Do you see it? It’s right there at the end. God’s kindness leads us to repentance. That is to be the basis for our ministry to others who need Christ. We are to be kind. I can’t wait to hear some of your stories of how that has worked for you. I can’t wait to hear how this truth changes some of your lives. Let the kindness and love of God show up in your life. People will get saved.