“WISDOM OF LIVING (49): BE KIND”                      By Pastor YAU

Ephesians 4:29-32                                                           January 14, 2007

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A heroic soldier: Before he enlisted in the Union Army to fight during the US Civil war, Joshua Chamberlain was an unassuming college professor. In the crucible military combat he distinguished himself for his heroism in holding the line on Little Round Top during the famous Battle of Gettysburg. He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

2)   A kind soldier: To recognize Chamberlain’s contribution to the Union victory, General Ulysses S. Grant designated him to receive the first flag of surrender at the Appomattox Courthouse. The troop of the defeated South expected to be ridiculed and humiliated. But Chamberlain showed them kindness and respect. For this the chief commanding officer of the Confederate Army wrote in his book that Chamberlain was “one of the knightly (kindly) soldiers of the Federal Army.” As a committed Christian, Chamberlain reflected the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

WHY IS BEING KIND IMPORTANT?

1)    It reflects the image of God: When God created man He created him in his own image. (Genesis 1:26-27) The word “image” is not about His outward looks because God is Spirit and he doesn’t have an external look. “Image” means personality, the internal qualities or nature of God. This special feature separates man from all other created things. One of the natures of God is His kindness. King David praised God for His loving kindness in Psalm 63:3, “Thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” (KJV) It is the loving kindness of God that kept Him faithful in showing his grace and forgiveness first to the nation of Israel and then to all of us, sinful people of the world. When we are kind to others, we reflect that nature of God to the world.

2)    It shows we are real disciples: In Jesus time, a disciple was more than just a student learning the teachings of a master. He was also a replica of his teacher in personality, action, thoughts and value. So, when others saw the student, they saw the teacher. That was in the mind of Jesus when He asked His disciples to “learn from me for I am gentle (kind) and humble in heart.” (Matt. 11:29) We need to learn from Jesus more than just His words but also His nature on the inside: kind, gentle and humble. People will recognize us as true disciples of Jesus when we demonstrate His kindness in our words and deeds as we relate to others.

3)    It helps us to forgive each other: No matter how hard we try, we will offend others even those we love so much. Differences and failures are part of everyday life. Being kind to others when they have failed or offended us is a must to keep the relationship from shattering. The last verse of today’s text, Paul encouraged us to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32) We do not cover up wrong doings but we forgive the wrong doers with kindness and compassion because we were forgiven by God of our own wrongs. The Bible says in Psalm 103:10, 14: “God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…for He knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dusts.” We are all human and will stumble and we need to be kind to each other.

4)    It is what this world needs: As the world creates more and more wealth and material production and possession, people are becoming less and less kind and forgiving. People focus so much on what they have on the outside than who they are on the inside. Loving kindness is one of those lost qualities of life in a genuine relationship even in the family or in the church. We see people in the family or a church fight each other for their rights. Hatred and crime are common approaches to get even or hurt each other. As salt and light to this world, we are to show the world the true meaning of kindness and compassion the world has lost. All human hearts are longing for kindness and forgiveness of short coming and sin. We are called to show the world kindness and forgiveness of God so we can bring them close to Him who is always kind and forgiving.

 

HOW TO CULTIVATE KINDNESS?:

1)     Kindness is not human nature: Human nature is selfish and self-centered. The Bible describes human nature as “evil” in Genesis 6:5. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts in his heart was only evil all the time.” You may argue on this point and believe that you are not an evil man. But if you are humble and honest, you will agree that the Bible is accurate when it says, “There is no one righteous, not even one,” in Romans 3:10. Given the condition and the freedom to do wrong and be evil, all men will do so much wrong and be so evil. It is this evil nature of man that causes man to sin against each other and against God. Paul was honest to confess “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature.” (Romans 7:18) Then he mourned hopelessly on his evil nature, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (7:24)

2)     Kindness is a divine nature: God is the source of kindness and all other spiritual virtues. Because of God’s kindness we are forgiven. It is also because of His kindness we have all our needs. Because God is kind and loving that He came to save us from our sins. There can’t be any kindness without God. One must have God in his life to cultivate kindness in his heart and then shown in his actions. It is the power of God’s life in us that we may have the power to be kind. Want to cultivate kindness in your heart? Invite God into your heart and walk closely with Him is the way. That’s why Paul listed kindness as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)

3)     Kindness comes from love: When Paul listed all the ways love can be measured in 1 Corinthians 13, he includes “love is kind” in his list. (13:4) Love may not always produce kindness but there can’t be true kindness without love. If kindness is the expression on the outside, then love is the power on the inside. Wherever there is no love, there can’t be genuine kindness, be it words or actions. So we need to examine our hearts and make sure we have the love of God in us so we may be able to be kind to others even to those who are not that lovable.

4)     Kindness needs constant care: We all know the importance of being kind to one another and most of us have tried hard to do so. Since kindness is not part of human nature, it is easy to forget or to ignore it in our everyday life especially when we are faced with challenging situation. That’s why Paul says he couldn’t do what he knew was right but keep doing what he knew was wrong. (Rom. 7:19) We have to be always in alert on being kind when we talk to or treat others. Paul found his help from keeping a close walk with the Lord to do what he knew was right and we certainly need to do that to help us be kind most of the times if not all. (Romans 7:24)

 

WAYS TO SHOW KINDNESS: (Read Ephesians 4:29-32)

1)    Begin with kind words: “Do not allow any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.” (4:29) The Bible wants us to focuses on the “need” and the “benefit” of others when we talk. Whatever we say must be helpful to those listen. Oftentimes we talk what “we want” to talk to “meet our needs” and to “benefit us” instead of others. We all are kind to ourselves in words and deeds. But God wants us to care the needs and benefits of others in our words. Kind words are aimed to build up others not tear them down. James 3:1-12 has so much to warn us to be kind when we use our words.

2)    Next is kind feeling: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander and every form of malice.” (4:31) All of the feelings on this list are incompatible with kindness. You can’t be kind when you hold bitterness against someone. You certainly can’t be kind when you have so much rage and anger in your heart. This list serves as a check-list for us to see how we feel about others when we need to be kind to them.

3)    Then it is kind attitude: “Be kind and compassionate to one another.” (4:32a) Some define attitude as the inner force that controls our words and deeds and that is very true. We say and act according to what is on the inside, our attitude. In order to have kind words and deeds, we first need to cultivate kind attitude to people, the environment and ourselves. If we have a wrong attitude, most likely we won’t have kind words and deeds to show others.

4)    Finally kind action: Let go, forgive if not forget. “Forgive each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” (4:32b) We need to forgive each other to be kind to each other. Twice in this verse the words “one another” and “each other” were used to show us that we will offend each other or one another no matter how hard we try or how careful we want to be. It is not just you are offended by others but you may have offended others as well. So, being kind is not just from you to them but also from they to you. It will be very difficult to be kind to someone if you can’t forgive that someone. Forgiveness is the springboard that can carry us to a higher ground.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Something worth remember. Life is like an express train ride, it won’t stop until it reaches its final destination. Then you look back and count the few things worth remember, words or acts of kindness from fellow passengers on that ride should be on the top of the list. Seldom are the things you have but the people you got to know and how you treat them in your heart.

2)   Choose good examples: Apostle Paul encouraged his readers to learn from him, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice.” (Phil. 4:9) Want to be the best we need to learn from the best. There are many unkind people around us everywhere. Don’t be distracted by these bad examples. Jesus told us to “overcome evil with good.”

3)   Be kind to yourself: The most important kind act you may do to yourself is to give yourself the opportunity to have eternal life. By trusting the Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the truly kind man who forgave his enemies before he died on the cross. This is the best act you can give yourself before it is too late. Take him into your heart and he will guide you thru this life and give you eternal life after your journey in this world ends someday.