Yesterday morning our pastor spoke about kindness in reference to one characteristic of the “fruit” of the spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galations 5:22-23
If you are like me – this is something I used to take for granted. Especially Christian kindness. But more often than not, kindness is a lost art.
While he was speaking, I found myself feeling sad because of this lost art. Like “common courtesy”. Is it really so common? Where has true kindness, concern and respect gone? I myself have been a victim of unkind things spoken or done to me. And mercy – they were by Christians.
Christians tearing down Christians. In person, by email and lately on social media. Yikes.
Lately there has been an tidal wave of things sent around to slander, cut down or at very least to cast doubt about another person – all in the name of Christianity for other people to read about! Well known people. Christian Leaders.
Now maybe you think, “FINALLY – someone said something!” Or maybe you would not be bold enough to write that or even admit that out loud. But maybe inside you think, “They are getting what they deserve”. And like so many people on social media who tend to believe most everything they read about – you pass it along.
This is a problem. No – it’s an epidemic. Christians are called to be kind. To be gentle. To have self control.
Pastor Gerry said it right when he said, “If you disagree with someone you should go to them privately. You could write them an email explaining ‘this is what I heard” but it troubles me and I want to know if you really said or did that” This would be the kind thing to do. It is the biblical thing to do.
Is it kind to write articles exposing someone we feel is wrong? Or off in their theology? Or differing in their interpretation of the Bible? What if some of the things you’ve heard or passed on are not entirely true? Or there is an element of truth – but mostly it is hearsay? What if it is true? Is it our responsibility to expose and broadcast? Should these things make us sad? Or glad? At times I admit that I may have had suspicions about someone and there it is in black and white right in front of me! I think to myself, “well it’s about time someone said that!” Shame on me. Instead this should grieve me and cause me to pray.
I believe that Christians are caught between being too forgiving, looking the other way, winking at sin and seeming soft. But often times the alternative is being overtly passionate and even being a bully for the sake of God’s truth and justice. There are times when we need to stand up for justice, those that are weaker and need someone to stand in the gap, help others who cannot help themselves, show Christian love. But I’m not referring to these cases. I’m referring to gossip, slander and judgement”.
Here is a simple kindness test:
1. When you read something negative about a leader, Christian or not – are you happy about it?
2. When someone you disagree with hurts you or says something unkind, do you want to retaliate?
3. Are you quick to cast judgement on events you know very little about?
4. Instead of praying for those in leadership, like our president – do you look for ways to undermine them or him and spread negative things?
If you answered yes to any of these – you probably need to practice a little more kindness.
When we practice these qualities of kindness, gentleness, and self control we will have to listen more and talk less. Bite our tongue in some cases. Be willing to look foolish. Pray for God’s wisdom and say nothing.
I am a work in progress. I have said plenty of unkind things over the years. I’ve had many unkind things said to me. I’m learning that I do more harm than good by stating my opinion. I try to weigh everything before I speak – or pass things along for others to read. I’m not perfect. I still mess up – but I’m trying to be more sensitive to the things that grieve the Holy Spirit and harm others. I try to treat others like I would like to be treated. I am learning that my opinion most of the time is not important. I realize that we all make mistakes and mess up and that it is God who is the final judge. I pray for others as I would hope that others would pray for me. My job is to be more like Christ. If this means that I say less and pray more – and look foolish for not having an opinion about someone – then so be it. I’m willing to risk it. And I am praying for the same thing for you.
Are you kind?