Christianity 201

October 31, 2013

Counterfeit Kindness

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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Today’s readings are from the devotional ministry of the late Selwyn Hughes, author of the Every Day With Jesus series of devotional materials published by Crusade for World Revival (CWR) in the UK. What follows is a three-day sample of the online devotions available at Every Day Light. They are currently in the middle of a series on the fruit of the Spirit.

Warm goodwill to others

Colossians 3
“… clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (v.12)

The fifth virtue listed in the fruit of the Spirit is kindness. The King James Version uses the word “gentleness” but there is little doubt that “kindness” is a more faithful translation of the original Greek word — chrestotes. “Kindness” is a very beautiful word; it means “a kindly disposition, or warm goodwill toward others.”One commentator says that if you wanted to express Christianity in one English word, you would use the word “kindness.” To speak, for example, of an “unkind Christian” is almost a contradiction in terms. There is some evidence that in the early centuries of the Church, non-Christians used the words “kindly” and “Christian” as synonyms. Tertullian, one of the Church Fathers, said, “The words were so allied in meaning that no harm was done by the confusion.”I once asked a church youth group, if I had the power to give them just eight of the fruit instead of nine, which one would they be willing to do without. Almost everyone in the group said “kindness.” When I asked why, they explained that for them, the word conjured up a picture of weakness and sentimentality. I told the group that they were obviously unaware of the true meaning of the word “kindness,” and that a kindly disposition does not necessarily mean maudlin sentimentality. So let’s be quite clear what we are talking about when we use this word: kindness is a supernatural virtue endowed upon us by the Holy Spirit, engendering within us a warm goodwill to others. How much of it, I wonder, will flow out to others today from you and me?

Prayer:
Gracious Father, help me today to be clothed with kindness. Make me a person who can show warmth and goodwill to others. I ask this for Your own dear Name’s sake. Amen.

For Further Study
Romans 12:1-101 Corinthians 13:4Ephesians 4:32

What kindness is not

Ephesians 4:17-32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another …” (v.32)

We saw yesterday how a group of young people had a wrong concept of kindness, viewing it as just maudlin sentimentality. It is surprising how debased the word “kindness” has become, in both Christian and non-Christian thought.

Some Christians accept the word because it is used in Scripture, but have no real desire to acquire the virtue because, to them, it smacks of sentimentality and weakness. The world uses the word but, separated as it is from any thought of God, “kindness” comes out as a mild compensation for a lack of firmness and clear thinking. People say, rather patronizingly in some cases: “Oh, he’s a kind fellow” — and they leave it there. The word has come to wear thin in the currency of the world (and in some parts of the Church), so there is a great need to see it minted afresh and gleaming bright in the commerce of modern-day Christian life.

Think with me still further about what kindness, the fruit of the Spirit, is not. Kindness is not being a “do-gooder.” In fact, the word in the original Greek does not imply active goodness but a disposition of goodwill, although active goodness may be one expression of it. Many think of kindness as giving money to people who have a financial need, but just giving money to people who appear to need it, without being guided by the Spirit, can result in great harm. Giving to people at the wrong time can take away from them something more precious than is being given. There are few things in which we have more need of the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit than in our giving.

Prayer:

O Father, help me to discern between what is true and what is counterfeit. I want my kindness to be genuine kindness — the sort of kindness that helps people, not hurts them. Amen.

For Further Study

2 Peter 1:1-71 Thessalonians 3:121 Peter 1:22

A debased word

Romans 2 “… not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (v.4)

We continue looking at counterfeit forms of kindness. Kindness is not indulgence. Supernatural kindness can be severe — severe because it loves so deeply that it can come up with a hard refusal. It is based on God’s kindness, which can cut when, just like a surgeon, He insists on cutting out of us moral tumors that threaten our spiritual health. But always God’s severity is our security. It is redemptive; He loves us too much to let us go. Kindness, which is the fruit of the Spirit, is like that.

Again, kindness is not a substitute for clear thinking. In being “kind” to one person, people can often be unkind to another. The wrong kindness — that is, kindness which does not operate on clear guidelines and right thinking — can deride justice. For example, a businessman remarked to his wife that he was dismissing the chauffeur on the grounds that he was an unsafe driver. “He nearly killed me today,” he said. “That is the third time.” His “kind” wife answered: “Oh, don’t dismiss him, dear — give him one more chance.”Another example of misguided kindness comes out of the law courts. A woman on trial for murdering her husband was acquitted chiefly because of the efforts of one “kind” lady on the jury. Explaining her attitude to someone after the trial, she said: “I felt so sorry for her. After all, she had become a widow.” By such examples as these, “kindness” has become a debased word — a fact that can hardly be denied. People have found it easier to be “kind” than truthful. How desperately the word cries out to be redeemed.

Prayer:

O God, take my hand and lead me through the fog and confusion that surrounds this word. Help me understand that true kindness can be a cutting kindness — kindness that gives life and not lenience. Amen.

For Further Study

Isaiah 63:1-9Psalms 17

Today`s two-for-one special: Enjoy the song Sacred Invitation as recorded by Seth Condrey.

2 Comments »

  1. Awesome! Love this. very true :) Too many people also dont make their entire persona as kind, and rather are just kind to certain people.

    Comment by Hope — October 31, 2013 @ 6:58 pm | Reply

  2. Some non-Christians can put some Christians to shame when it comes to real kindness in action. Ought not to be!

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — November 3, 2013 @ 6:46 pm | Reply


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