Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Week Twenty-Four - Kind

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and he shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”  Luke 6:35
The example of Christ is one of kindness toward those who, in our estimation, are undeserving.  The word, kind, has the meaning of fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, or good.  It also means manageable, mild, pleasant (as opp. to harsh, hard sharp, bitter), benevolent.
When faced with the angry crowd and the woman caught in adultery, Jesus chose to show kindness.  His response was guarded, patient and mild.  When faced with the hassled Martha, his response was fit for use, instructional, corrective, not harsh or bitter.  Even when he encountered the legion of devils and cast them into the swine, we read of no sharp words.
This verse also reminds me of the verse: “God sends rain upon the just and the unjust.”  God sees no need to be unkind.  Man’s judgment is already set.  God’s goal is to see man redeemed.  It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. (Romans 2:4) He is not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance.  (II Peter 3:9)
That does not mean that God approves of  or overlooks unthankfulness or evil ways.  It does mean, however, that God does not have to respond in like in his dealings with men.  He is drawing from a different source – a higher source. 
So what about us?  Are we to follow the Lord’s example?  Of course we are!  We, too, do not have to render evil for evil.  We can choose to be Christ-like in our responses and yet not agree with sin. Samuel Johnson said, “Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not.”
Sometimes I find people think that if they are kind to their enemy then they are losing ground, or, if they show mercy/kindness then they are acting from a weak position.  This is not true.  Our choice to act in kindness will have two results.  First, it will bring conviction upon the evil one - Romans 12:20   And, it will keep us from a guilty conscience – Acts 24:16
I can choose to be kind even when I may not agree.  I can choose to be kind even when I am not seeking to be friendly.  Kindness should be a rule of life and tongue.
How kind are you?  How kind are your words?  When faced with difficult people, does your kindness wane?  Have you learned to disagree without being disagreeable?
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32
This is a Gritts family verse.  Such verses are those I would regularly quote to my children to remind them of how they ought to be behaving.  I had one child who needed this reminder more often than others.  Kindness, tenderheartedness and ready forgiveness were traits this particular child needed to learn to apply.
Sometimes I think we believe that being kind is simply attuned to being nice, tolerant, and polite, and it is, but the definition is much deeper.  Our Lord was kind to the unthankful and to the evil in a way that fit and manageable, we are also called upon to move from just being nice, to actually being of use to those around us.
People need more than a measured niceness.  They need to see genuine care and concern.  Being kind means making a difference, actually showing compassion and being useful in the life of the other person.  Who needs a friend that is only nice on the surface?  Yea, what if Christ were only superficial in his kindness toward us?
We read in Psalm 117:2, “For his merciful kindness is great toward us…”  When you link merciful with kindness you get an even larger picture.  Just as mercy is unmerited, so is kindness.  Kindness isn’t based on merit, but on choice.  We choose to show kindness.  We are also, according to the phraseology of this verse, commanded to be kind – “…be ye kind one to another…”  So, while we are left with the choice, we are also under the expectation of obedience in this area.
I also like the side of this definition that describes being kind as manageable.  To me this means that we aren’t to be going around shoveling our kindness upon everyone in such a way as to be irritating.  I have met people whose kindness was simply unnecessary or uncalled for.  They seemed to be going out of their way to call attention to their own goodness.  This isn’t kindness.  It is attention seeking, self serving and manipulative.  It is also an indication that something is missing on the inside – a filter, if you will, as to when showing kindness is appropriate and useful.
Have you ever thought about your motives behind showing kindness?  Are you superficial in your kindness?  Are you obedient to the Lord’s example in your kindness?

 “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…”  I Corinthians 13:4
Interesting to note how the Lord used suffering and kindness in the same relation to love.  Suffering long does not generally produce kindness in us - irritation, short temper, frustration, yes, but kindness? Rarely!  The basic definition as used here means to show one’s self as mild, to be kind and use kindness.  This gives us the Bible response to enduring difficult people – mild responses and kind actions. 
I seem to be one of those magnets for difficult people.  I feel like they see me across the room and think, “Ah…someone who will listen to me, someone who will be interested in me, someone I can make a friend.”  Sadly, I can see them coming before they even speak. I know this is going to be a test of my patience.  They start their saga and I stand there listening and doing the usual hum’s and ah’s all the while feeling trapped and looking for an escape route.  Meanwhile, my mind is quoting verses about kindness and patience and I am under such a strain as to how to manage the situation and still show kindness.
Sometimes I can manage to get hold of the conversation and give them a measure of hope and care.  Sometimes I have to make excuse and end the conversation in order to walk away.  Either way, my response must be measured by kindness – a mild response, rather than an abrupt explosion – “Get out of my face!”
Don’t judge me too harshly.  Be honest, we have all been in that place where we felt trapped and it was hard to find the nice way out of the situation.  Sometimes I think we have to simply endure.  But that does not give us license to be unkind.  When we are pushed to our limits, there is never an excuse for unkindness.  Every response needs to be measured and given out of love and kindness – even when the truth hurts, it can be given with a kind word.
Do you struggle with remaining kind in the face of difficult people or hard circumstances?  Are you words and responses measured by kindness?  Or, does your patience wear thin and allow an explosion?

 “And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be thy servants for ever.”  II Chronicles 10:7
This was the advice given to King Rehoboam as he ascended to the throne -If he wanted his subjects to follow him, then he needed to meet out kindness to them.  The elders were telling him that being good, pleasant and agreeable would give him the advantage and good will of the people.  It would bring him into higher esteem and secure his reign.  We know from the story that he chose to ignore this advice and began to rule with a heavy and unkind hand.  His reign was shortened.
This is a good example for all who are in leadership – in the home, church and business.  How we treat those who are under our care and direction directly relates to our success as a leader.  Tyrants do not create love and esteem from their followers.  They may get obedience and productivity, but they will not generate true loyalty and respect.  Conversely, leaders who lead with kindness, care, and genuine concern will create an atmosphere of love and respect.  They will have obedience and productivity accompanied with a happy home, a unified church and/or a good work environment.
It comes back to the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  If you as a leader want kind responses from those you are leading, then you must lead by example.  Ephesians 6:9 instructs and warns:  “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.”
We will all give account of how we treated others, God holds us all equally accountable.  Just because we might be in a position of authority over other individuals does not mean that we are above God’s law.  Just as He instructed workers to obey, He reminds the leaders that they also have a Master, and obedience is required.
How are you measuring up as a leader?  As a parent, are you parenting with kindness?  As a church leader, are you leading by kindly example?  As a business leader, are you directing your business appropriately, according to God’s directives?  Are you kind or are you a tyrant?

“He gave of gold by weight for things of gold, for all instruments of all manner of service: silver also for all instruments of silver by weight, for all instruments of every kind of service.”  I Chronicles 28:14
The word, kind, is one of those words with several different usages.  Here it has nothing at all to do with demeanour, but is simply a definition of general description.  Since the word is used in a phrase the definition has to do also with the labour involved.  “Of every kind of service”…different instruments necessary for the use in the temple made by the labourers.  These workers were tasked with making the necessary instruments and Solomon provided the materials necessary.  Their job was to render their service to see that every kind of instrument was made.  
Every kind of thing necessary to create the temple was provided.  Every sort of worker, from the skilled to the simple manual labour was available.  God had even given Solomon the exact details of how each part should be built and decorated.  Some things were to be covered in gold, others in silver or brass.  It must have been an amazingly beautiful and lavish building.
Try to imagine the work involved in the building of these magnificent buildings when there were no computers, no advance machinery, and no health and safety laws!  I’ve seen movies that try to portray the work conditions and the amazing fetes of architectural prowess the people of this era accomplished.  It is astounding to think of them elevating huge boulders with only human strength and a few pulleys to the height of the pyramids.  And then to overlay huge statues with pure gold – we can’t even begin to afford such things today.
When we come back to the “every kind” side of our thought today, we have to say that God has everything in order.  Every kind of service is of value to him.  From the skilled worker to the manual labourer, God is involved.
Sometimes we think our place is life small, unrewarding or insignificant – mothers of young children, cleaners, unappreciated fathers and pastors, factory workers, etc.  No doubt some of the workers at the temple often felt the same.  Most of them were just slave labour.  Only a few were skilled craftsmen.  All of them were just doing what the king required.
Our King recognizes every service done unto him. In I Corinthians 15:58 we are reminded: “…your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” And in Proverbs 14:23:  “…In all labour there is profit…”

Every service – every kind of service – done as unto the Lord is valuable and significant.  Hebrews 6:10 also reminds us: For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

So, keep on serving.  Keep on doing whatever kind of service God has given you.  You never know how God is going to use you, but you can be sure He has a beautiful plan and values your work and labour of love.

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