“But The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Kindness”                                            June 18, 2006

2 Samuel 9   Luke 6:35-36  

 

INTRO:  Two things about the early Christians baffled pagan Greeks and Romans.

 

First thing was the Christians’ sexual purity.

   We think that our culture is obsessed with sensuality.

   First century paganism was even worse.

Perversions of every kind were openly flaunted in highest society.

   Immorality was prevalent and totally accepted.

 

Here were these Christians.  Dressed modestly.

   If married, faithful to spouses.  If unmarried chaste.

   Romans said:  Who are these people? 

One ancient writer said this:  “They share their meals, but not their beds.”

 

Brings us to the second thing that baffled the pagan Greeks and Romans.

   The incredible generosity of the early Christians.

The Christians gave generously of their possessions and time.

   Common practice to turn old slaves into streets.

   Infanticide also common, unwanted babies put on garbage dumps.

Christians cared for slaves, collected babies and raised as own. 

 

The Roman Emperor Julian tried to wipe out Christianity.

   But he wrote a letter to a Pagan priest—never going to be able to destroy them.

   “Not only do they care for their own poor, but for ours as well.”

 

Wasn’t sexual purity or generosity that caused the church to grow.

   Grew because of the Gospel.

But the sexual purity of Christians and the generosity of Christians

   shut the mouths of critics and gave credibility to their message.

 

Not going to talk about first thing—sexual purity.

But want to consider the second—generosity.

   Generous giving and service of early Christians was spiritual fruit of kindness.

   It was a fruit that adorned the preaching of the Gospel—

   gave credibility to the message.

 

Kindness is simply loving deeds.

Bible says that true love will always find expression in kindness.

   If there is no kindness (no loving deeds) then there is no love.

   “If someone sees brother in need and has no pity, how can love?”  “With actions”

   Kindness is the evidence of love.

 

That’s the reason why kindness of early Christians, giving and serving poor,

   such a powerful thing—gave them such credibility

   evidence of the spirit of love in them

   evidence that couldn’t be refuted by their enemies

 

Fruit of kindness is not a little thing.

   Outward evidence that God’s love is really in you.

   Evidence of who you really are.

This is a fruit you must cultivate.  Can’t neglect.

 

I don’t think that there are any of the fruit of the spirit

   that raise more practical questions than kindness.  For example:

 

When do you stop giving to a person?

   Always have to show kindness, but sometimes kindness means saying—

   I’m not going to give you any more financial support.

That seems mean to the person in need.  But sometimes that is kindest thing.

 

Another question:  Kindness is Bible always depicted as giving material things.

   How do you show kindness to a person who has no material needs?

 

So what I want to focus on are the biblical motivations for kindness.

   If motivations are right, in step with Spirit,

   comes to practical questions of kindness—things more clear.

 

Three motivations for kindness.

   1.  Your experience of God’s kindness.

   2.  Your understanding of Christ’s redemption.

   3.  Your hope for eternal reward.

 

 

 

MP#1  Your experience of God’s kindness.

It is your own, personal experience of God’s kindness to you in Christ

   that is the deepest motive for your kindness to others.

What motivated David to extend kindness to Saul’s grandson?

   Invite him to table, honor him, restore his fortunes?

Two motives mentioned.

 

First, David’s friendship with Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father.

   You remember the history of their friendship. 

But there was a deeper motive, hinted in verse 3.

   “Is there no one still left in the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

David wanted to show Saul’s descendants the kindness he had received from God

   That was a motivation that went deeper even than an old friendship.

 

David had experienced God’s kindness over and over.

Psalm 18 David reflects on a difficult time in his life—says at end:

   “[the Lord] shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”

Gratitude for God’s kindness motivated him to show kindness to Mephibosheth.

 

What is God’s kindness? 

   When David said that he wanted to show Mephibosheth “God’s kindness”

   what did he mean? 

This is crucial, because it gets to the heart of kindness as a fruit of Spirit. 

 

The essence of God’s kindness is that He is kind to you in Christ.

   “Be kind to one another . . . even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

   “God demonstrates his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

   “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”

God’s love and kindness to you is always in and through Christ

   reaching out to you in your sin and alienation from Him to do you good.

God’s kindness to you in Christ has two very important characteristics.

 

1.  God’s kindness to you is costly.

He gave his beloved Son to humiliation and death so that you could be saved.

   Not only did Christ give his life willingly—Father gave him up for sacrifice.

   That was necessary for sins to be paid for, divine justice satisfied.

So this means that all fruit of the Spirit kindness will be costly as well.

 

What did it cost David to extend kindness to Mephibosheth?

   There was some financial cost.  But I doubt David felt that at all.

When you read through 2 Samuel carefully see evidence that there remained

   a pro-Saul, anti-David faction for many years.  David had to be aware of this.

   Mephibosheth was not just any grandson of Saul—son of oldest son.

His elevation to honor, putting him in Jerusalem, center of power was costly. 

   Know David made at least one enemy doing this.

 

So David paid a political cost to be kind to Mephibosheth.

   That is indeed very costly to a person in his position.

When you show God’s kindness to people—will be costly to you in particular way.

 

2.  God’s kindness to you in Christ is costly, it is also close.

God wasn’t just kind to you from heaven, He sent His son.

   Christ became a man.  He was incarnate—with body, soul, emotions of man.

   He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.

Since His ascension He has sent us His Holy Spirit to live in us as Comforter.

   One day coming back to take us home.  God’s kindness is a close kindness.

 

David could have sent his officials to Lo Debar.

   Spend whatever money it takes to make him comfortable.

   Set him up financially.  Get him best medical care for feet.  Buy him nice house.

David could have done all that from afar. 

   But instead he brought Mephibosheth to Jerusalem.  Spoke kindly.  Made place.

 

In video series we’ve been watching Sunday nights, Shepherding A Child’s Heart—

   Tedd Tripp tells a story of a woman who once said to him—

   “I don’t have enough fingers to wear all the rings my husband has bought me over years.”

   But not one time in our marriage has he ever said, “I was wrong, please forgive me.”

That’s a negative example, but it makes the point.

 

No matter how much those rings cost—weren’t really costly to that man.

   The costly thing in his case, would have been to confess wronging his wife.

   That would have been real kindness to her—brought him close to her.

When start to work this out in your life, your relationships—see many substitutes.

   Fruit of the Spirit kindness is costly and close.

Only way you can ever be truly kind—if you have experienced God’s kindness. 

   Have you?  Do you know God’s kindness to you in Christ?  I hope so.

First motivation is your experience of God’s kindness—the second motivation is . . MP#2  Your understanding of Christ’s redemption.

Jesus came not only to save our souls, He came to save our bodies and all creation.

   He came to push back the effects of the Fall in every area of life.

Let’s go way back to the Garden of Eden.  What happened when Adam sinned?

   (Tim Keller)  Four concentric circles—like ripples from rock in a pond.

 

First, inner circle—Adam and Eve were alienated from God.

   Instead of walking with God in cool of the day, hid from God, guilty.

   Spiritual brokenness, fellowship with God broken—leads to hell

 

Second circle—Adam and Eve alienated from themselves.

   Before sinned could stand naked before God and all creation—I’m all right.

   After sin, shame, nakedness.  Psychological brokenness

 

Third circle—Adam and Eve alienated from each other.

   Before sin—“Bone of bone, flesh of flesh.”

   After ate fruit—“What have you done?”  “The woman . . .”

   beginnings of hatred, divorce, racism, war, murder.  Social brokenness

 

Fourth circle—Adam and Eve alienated from creation.

   Before complete dominion, bodies with potential of living forever.

   After, creation cursed, bodies cursed—toil, thorns, return to dust.

   disease, accidents, tornadoes, hunger, poverty.   Physical brokenness

 

When Jesus Christ came to earth, brought His kingdom, carry out redemption

   which of the effects of sin did He come to heal? 

   He came to restore all things—came to reverse the effects of the curse.

Of course, everything hinges on that center circle—alienation from God.

   That is the heart of Jesus’ redemptive work.  Save from sins.  Peace with God.

   If that brokenness is not restored, nothing else will ever be.

 

But that’s not all Jesus came to restore.

   Didn’t just preach the good news—repent, believe, made right with God

Healed the sick, made lame walk, gave sight to blind,

   restored families broken by death, provided food for hungry, wine for wedding,

   ate and drank with outcasts of society, Samaritans, tax collectors, prostitutes

Came to bring restoring power to every part of world broken by sin.

   In his miracles and kind deeds gave us a foreshadowing of the consummation

   of His kingdom in the new heavens and new earth.

No death, crying, sorrow, pain, hunger—all things made right.

 

David’s kindness to Mephibosheth dealt with outer circle brokenness. 

   Physical needs—better food, place to live, medical care.

   Social needs—place at the table.

Foreshadowed the redemptive work of Christ, pushing back effects of fall.

   That’s what the fruit of kindness does. 

   Brings Christ’s redemption to physical and social needs. 

 

When you take a meal to a grieving family that has lost a loved one—

   it’s not just a Southern custom—it’s a little bit of Christ’s redemptive work—

   pushing back the effect of the fall.  Giving hope one day tears wiped away.

 

When your son’s friend comes over to your house—

   and you know this boy doesn’t have father in life—

   and you say:  “Why don’t you go fishing with us?  Or to the beach with us?”

You are in that kindness pushing back effects of fall, social brokenness.

   Little way, revealing what God intends fathers to be like.

 

When you let a lonely person, or a weird person talk your ear off—

   when you have a million other things to do—and you engage, smile, question.

That kindness is an expression of Christ’s redemptive work—

   pushing back the brokenness and loneliness of this world.

 

You may be given opportunities for kindness that are very costly, very close.

   Long-term, expensive kindness to particular people God brings to your life.

And many days you will be given opportunities for small kindnesses—

   costly in their own way—maybe to grocery budget, or your schedule, or nerves.

 

But large or small, do you see how grand the fruit of kindness is for Christians?

   It is nothing less that the redemptive power of Jesus Christ in you pushing back

   the effects of the fall in lives of people.  Healing social and physical brokenness. 

Like Jesus touching the lepers, speaking to the outcasts, feeding the hungry—

   when you are kind, giving people a taste of Christ’s eternal kingdom.

Motivation for kindness your experience of God’s kindness,

   your understanding of Christ’s redemption, and third . . .

MP#3  Your hope for eternal reward

The Bible says over and over again to believers in many places—

   that you will be rewarded in eternity for the fruit of kindness you produce now.

It’s in the Matthew passage we read, mentioned many other places.

   Luke 6:  “Great is your reward in heaven.”

   Col. 3  An inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”

   Heb. 11 “Looking forward to their reward.”

 

How can it be that we are rewarded in heaven for kindness on earth

   if our salvation is all of grace?

How can we believe in unmerited favor and then talk about eternal reward?

 

Answer is very satisfying.

All the kindness you produce is only possible because the Holy Spirit is in you.

Kindness is the fruit of the Spirit.

   When a Christian is kind, looks at his kindness.

   He sees the good part—Wow!  Look what God has done through me.

   He sees the ugly stuff mixed in (griping, manipulation)—Ugh! 

 

But God is so gracious to His children He receives your act of kindness

   because you are in Christ, He accepts it (not the bad part, but good part)

   and he rewards you for it.

 

Like giving your child money so he can buy you a Christmas present..

   Takes your money and buys you something.

   You hug and kiss and thank him for the present.  

You gave him the money to buy your gift (he didn’t earn the money.)

   He gives you back something he did not buy with his own money.

   And you reward him with hugs and kisses.  It’s all grace.

 

Move this into the spiritual realm.

Lord gives you the gift—many names eternal life, divine nature, holiness,

   mind of Christ—His life in you.

Then you act on it.  By gracious work of Holy Spirit—good things happen, fruit.

   You offer it back to God.  He accepts, rewards.

 

Not like rewards in this world—all up to you.

   Different economy in God’s family.  All grace.

 

What is the reward? 

The reward for kindness is Jesus Christ’s commendation.

   It is hearing on the Great Last Day “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

That act of kindness that seemed so small back then, hospital visit, prison visit,

   meal, for that needy, sympathetic ear, remember that?—that was for me.

   Thank you.

 

Think about the picture that Jesus is painting for us in this passage:

   On the Day of Judgment—I will stand, glorified and radiant, King of kings,

   Lord of lords, before the Great White Judgment Throne of the Father,

   before all angels, and great multitude of mankind, and I will say to you

   personally, for all to hear:

Thank you for your kindness to me.

 

A desire to be commended by Jesus Christ on the Day of Judgment

   is a great and glorious motivation for kindness.

   Causes you to look at every opportunity for a loving deed—this is for Jesus.

   Gives eternal weight to what you do.

Cuts through your stinginess.  Stinginess is the opposite of kindness.

   Holding on to and protecting your stuff—money, time, energy.

   If I use this for this person, not going to have enough for myself.

   I can’t afford to be kind.

 

Is there any greater return for your investment that what Christ promises?

   His reward, His commendation.

   One reason early Christians were so liberal in their giving—kindness flowed.

Lived with such vivid expectation of Lord’s return.

   For many, threat of being martyred for the faith, meeting Lord.

   Wanted to be met with His commendation.  Gave, gave, fruit of kindness.  \

 

In the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22, Jesus Christ speaks of His return:

   “Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me,

   and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

Does that stir you up to kindness?  It should.

 

CONC:  As I said at the beginning, kindness is a fruit of the Spirit

   that causes the world to sit up and listen to the Gospel.

 

Several years ago read an interview of a graduate of my college, Covenant College.

   This man lives in Baltimore, decided to run for state legislature. 

He was pro-life.  His opponent, incumbent, was pro-abortion.

   District pro-abortion.  So she attacked him with the usual weapon.

   Said he didn’t care about the rights of women.

 

But someone told her that this man, her political opponent and his wife

   had for years opened home to pregnant, unmarried, homeless women,

   so would have a place to live until delivery of babies.

She was stunned.  Came to see him.  Asked him if this was true.

   How many years he and his wife had done this, how many women helped.

   When he had told her the whole story she said:

   I’m not going to attack you on this issue again, going to be a different race.

 

Here was a Christian couple whose personal experience of kindness of God—

   motivated them to costly and close kindness to needy young women.

Their kindness was an expression of the redemptive work of Christ—

   pushing back the brokenness in these women’s lives. 

   Giving them a warm home and a place to lay their heads.

 

What was the result?  The fruit of kindness that brought honor to the Lord—

   and the promise one day to hear:  “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

Your opportunities for kindness may be different.

   But you too must do all you can to bear the fruit of kindness.