Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Word About Kindness

Lately, kindness has been at the very heart of my experience with Jesus, in His call to me to be a kind person in my own life. Not that I'm perfectly kind and gentle in all things, or have laid complete hold of the attribute of "kindness", but Jesus has definitely put a call in my heart to BE kind, and I'm doing the very best I can, with the help of the Holy Spirit changing my life.

Broader than being kind, though, is a call in my heart to live a life worthy of Jesus' sacrifice, and to be obedient to God, and to be an example the type of life that Jesus commanded us. After all, "they will know you are my disciples by your love for one another."

In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the Corinthian church, "We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God." (2 Cor 6:3-4a)

This "we" Paul talks about about is not only the "ministers", or in his case himself, the other apostles and other leaders of the early church, but every single member of the body of Christ. Every believer is called to be a "minister". We should be ministering to each other day in and day out. We all have different roles, some teach, some preach, some serve, etc.... but we all "minister". That's the way the body works.

So then, each of us... every single believer in Jesus, is called to live a life such as Paul describes - in everything show that we are true ministers. Now, I know that's tough. I'm not claiming to have laid hold of anything close to living "so no one can find fault", but I do feel a desire, a tug on my heart, to strive in that direction.

I once heard a description of holiness as "tilting your life toward God in everything you do." Not perfection, since I am imperfect and will never be perfect in my human form, but having a yearning for God and His glory in all things, and letting His strength and perfection be made perfect in my weakness.

I've thought also about how hard it is to be "holy" in this world; to live a life such as Paul describes. I think, "It's just so hard sometimes!" Then I read on a little further and see some of the things Paul and his followers went through:

"We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit." (2 Cor 6:4b-6)

Ok, that puts to shame my "hard" life here in California. I hang my head that I ever think of my life as "hard" at all, when I think about it in this context.

Yet, through it all, Paul and the disciples prove themselves, and thereby their message of Christ, by their purity, understanding, patience, kindness, and love through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this post, and kindness. I believe that kindness - a gentleness of spirit toward, and an empathy of the heart for another - is an absolutely key attitude for a Christian to have. Without kindness, love, and patience, there is no message in my life for an unbeliever - only condemnation and guilt.

So, my prayer is for me to have patience and kindness in my own life to serve as an example to those that see me and are closely examining my claim of Christ in my life. My prayer for you, dear reader if you are a believer, is the same. That you would have patience and kindness in your life, because those that hear you claim Christ are watching closer than you may think.

I know I was before I accepted salvation from Jesus.

The adage is true: No one cares what you know, until they know that you care.

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