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Sermon 6/8/08
Colossians 3:12 - Kindness

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Sermon 6/8/08 – Colossians 3:12 – Kindness

Kindness

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12)

In this series on the “fruit of the Spirit,” as found in Galatians 5:22; we have seen “love, joy, peace (and) patience.” Now we will look at “kindness,” appearing not only in the “fruit of the Spirit,” but also in Colossians 3:12, our Scripture for today.

Sandy Simpson said “Mark Twain wrote about ‘Kindness, (that it) is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can read.’” Sandy continued, “He was right, of course. Everyone can understand the language... It can be spoken in any dialect and still be comprehended by a person of any nationality, by the rich and the poor, by the old and the young, by both male and female. "Kindness" is a universal language for it does not speak to the intellect, but directly to the heart.

An example of kindness in Scripture is found in Luke 10:30-37 - "Jesus... said, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.' Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands? And he said, ‘The one who showed mercy toward him.’ Then Jesus said…Go and do the same.’"

It is an interesting example of kindness because the Samaritans were hated by the Jews. The Jewish neighbors of the Samaritans ridiculed them whenever possible, shunned them and in general, treated them with contempt. That’s why the actions of this Samaritan man are so compelling - A "human" perspective would have been to glare at the Jewish man who was “half dead” and then pass by like the others did, feeling a certain warmth as he ignored him. But instead he treated the man with kindness.

And that’s what “kindness” in Galatians 5:22 and Colossians 3:12 is all about. This is not some type of emotion or response that we can create in ourselves and feel proud about what we have done. This “kindness” is a “fruit of the Spirit” – it comes from God.

In the context of our Scripture for today, we find that He is enabling us to “put… aside anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.” We are drawn to be kind and honest because “Christ is (our) all and in all” (Colossians 3:8-11). It is God who has chosen you and me, not that we have chosen Him; and because He is with and in us, we are becoming like the Samaritan, acquiring “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you…” (Colossians 3:12-13).

A look at the people of this world will reveal that attitudes and behavior like we see in those verses in Colossians are extremely rare. It continues that we are to be men and women like the Samaritan, letting “the peace of Christ rule in (our) hearts” (Colossians 3:14-15). But let someone take away our spouse, harm our child or steal our money, and kindness may quickly go; except that the Lord imparts HIS kindness into those who trust in Him.

The Samaritans were descended from a mixture of Jewish, Assyrian and other assorted ancestors. They hadn’t chosen to be that way. They were just born into the situation of their lives like everybody else. But they were victims of the bigotry, pride and spitefulness they encountered, and like the victims of abuse everywhere, they responded in kind, whenever possible. And that’s just it – it was impossible for them to be any other way; but the Samaritan man acted in "kindness" because the "fruit of the Spirit" that came from God was in him.

The words of Jesus were often hard for his listeners and they are difficult for us today. Jesus had just told His disciples that rich people have a hard time handing over their lives (and their money) to God. Most people have in mind that if they turn to and trust in the Lord, it will be because He lets them keep what they have.

And Jesus’ disciples, reasonably good men that they were, had trouble with this. “Who then can be saved?” they demanded. Jesus answered them with words that should take root in our hearts and lives: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 20:26). In much the same manner, it is humanly IMPOSSIBLE to respond with kindness to those who have done us great harm. But as reported by Jesus, we see the life of one Samaritan who could, in the power of God, do the impossible. We can, too. Part of the reason why the kindness toward our enemies we call “forgiveness” is so difficult, is that the one who hurt us injured our pride. He or she made us feel bad about ourselves. They embarrassed us. We want to be special and they took it away. Here’s an anecdote from the internet about former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln:

Despite his busy schedule during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln often visited the hospitals to cheer the wounded. On one occasion he saw a young fellow who was near death. ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ asked Lincoln. ‘Please write a letter to my mother,’ came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down and wrote as the youth told him what to say. The letter read, ‘My Dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father...’ The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: ‘Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.’ Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. ‘Are you really our President?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ was the quiet answer. ‘Now, is there anything else I can do?’ The lad feebly replied, ‘Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.’ The tall, gaunt president granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.” The kindness in his heart was greater than the pride of his office.

Please fill us, Holy Spirit, with the "fruit" that comes from God. Help us, like the Samaritan and the President to be kind to others; even those who do us harm. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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