Tuesday, April 8, 2014

BIBLE STUDY WEEK # 8 (4/8/14)

 

Bible Study "The Fruit of the Spirit"

[By Glenn Pease]

Week # 8 (Fruit of Meekness)

Date (4/8//14)

 

 

8.   THE FRUIT OF KINDNESS: MEEKNESS

 

Allen Emery, one of Billy Graham's associates tells of his experience as a boy back in 1937. He

was travelling on a train with his father. One of the porters had a limp and was obviously in pain.

When they inquired about it, they learned he had an infected ingrown toenail. After breakfast Allen

came back to his car and noticed the porter coming out of his parents room. He was crying, so Allen

followed him to the men's lounge and sat down beside him. "Are you crying because your toe

hurts?", he asked. "No," he said, " it is because of your daddy. Your daddy could see my toe was in

pain and suggested that I let him lance it and clean it out." The porter explained what his father did,

and he began to cry again. "Did it hurt that much?" Allen asked. "It didn't hurt at all and it feels

fine now," he responded. "Then why are you crying?" Allen asked. Let me finish the story in

Allen's own words. The porter made this reply-

 

Well, while he was dressing my toe, your daddy asked me if I loved the Lord Jesus. I told him my mother did but that I did not believe as she did. Then he told me that Jesus loved me and had died for me. As I saw your daddy carefully bandaging my foot, I saw a love that was Jesus' love and I knew I could believe it. We got down on our knees and we prayed and, now, I know I am important to Jesus and that He loves me.

With that he started crying again, happy and unashamed. When his sobs subsided, he earnestly burst out, "you know, boy, kindness can make you cry." I understood. I also understood that a living illustration like this can never be forgotten and the privilege of seeing such events is a responsibility of life. One father, by bearing the fruit of kindness, led a man into the kingdom of God, and gave his son a lesson in love that changed his life forever as well.

 

Kindness is no wimp among the virtues. The reason we tend to think so is because it is a virtue

that even pagans can manifest in a strong way. Paul, who makes a great deal of the importance of

kindness in the Christian life, recognizes just how kind pagans can be. In Acts 28 when the storm

wrecked the ship, and all were forced to swim for their lives to the island of Malta, we read in verse

2, "The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was

raining and cold." In verse 7 we read, "there was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief

official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably." In

verse 10 the story ends with these words, "they honored us in many ways and when we were ready to

sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed."

 

These pagan people treated Paul and Dr. Luke as kindly as they were ever treated by their

Christian friends, and far more kindly than what they received from some Christians. This kind of

competition has, instead of challenging the Christian to a higher level of kindness, led them to

minimize its importance. It is embarrassing when a non-Christian is more kind than a Christian, and

so to save face the Christian says it is no big deal to be kind. Kindness is just a natural gift of some

personalities, they say, and so, even though it is nice, it is of no credit to anyone, anymore than it is

to have blue eyes. Kindness is just the luck of the draw, and a matter of genetics, and should not be

given much value as a Christian virtue. If my pagan neighbor is kinder than me, it is due to his or

her heritage, and does not make them better than me. With this kind of rationalizing, Christians have

been able to send kindness back to the minor leagues. The only problem is that the New Testament

stresses that kindness is a major league player. It has a contract with God to play on the highest

level, and we can't fire it or push it out of the big leagues.

Paul settled this once and for all when he said in his great love song of I Cor.13, in verse 4, "love

is kind." God-like love is kind. There is no escape from this fact, kindness is a primary virtue and

part of the image of God in man. The fact that this image can still be reflected in non-Christians is

no excuse to minimize it, but rather a reason to recognize that God's people should display it in its

purest form. The non-Christian may beat you on the level of natural kindness of personality, but

there is no kindness superior to that of the fruit of the Spirit kindness. This is not merely man

produced, but it is God produced fruit. Like all the other fruits this one too grows out of love. Jesus went about doing good and showing kindness to everyone in need because He loved people. It is hard to be kind if you do not love. It is easy if you do love, for love is kind by its very nature. This is where the Christian can compete and win, for the Christian filled with the Spirit can love his enemies and those who do not deserve love. This is not natural, but is the fruit of the Spirit. If a Christian is not unusually kind he or she will not make much of an impression on the world, where people experience kindness from others whom they know are worldly. We need to make a commitment to magnify rather than minimize this fruit of kindness. Henry Frederic Amiel said, "Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!"

The opportunities to be kind are very numerous we can show kindness almost every day, and

often several times a day. Seneca, the Roman philosopher, whose brother Gallio set Paul free in

Acts18, said, "Wherever there is a human being, there is a chance for kindness." Paul was shown

great kindness by his brother, and Paul was fully aware just how kind pagans could be. That is why

he stresses that Christians be kind, for if they are not, they are less than the pagans they are trying to

reach. In Col.3:12 he urges Christians, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly

beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." When a

Christian gets up in the morning to dress for the day they are to put on kindness along with all else

they wear. Ask yourself before you head off to work or to school or to wherever, did I put on my

kindness? To walk out of your home unprepared to be kind to people who cross your path is to be

unprepared to be a Christian. We should be as embarrassed to leave our kindness at home as we

would be to leave our shoes or shirt.

You have seen the signs on the doors of many stores that say, no shirt, no shoes, no service. If

Paul ran a restaurant his sign would say, no love, no kindness, no service. He would be embarrassed

to see Christians running around with no kindness on. He sees kindness as one of the

undergarments, for in Col.3:14 he sees love as the outer garment that covers all. He writes, "And

over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Paul is saying if

you take off into your day not clothed with love and kindness you are practically naked, and will

probably be a spiritual embarrassment before the day is over. Paul is not worried about you leaving

home without your credit card, but he is saying of kindness, don't leave home without it.

How does a Christian dress? With the fruits of the Spirit. We are to cover the flesh with these

fruits, so that, just as the defects of the body are covered by clothing, so the defects of our fleshly

nature are covered by these beautiful garments of the Spirit. You are what you wear in the spiritual

life. If you wear these fruits you are Christ like.

The Greek word for kindness even sounds like Christ. The noun is Chrestotes, and the adjective

is Chrestos. We are to wear Chrestotes to be Christ like. If we wear this garment we will be

conspicuous for our courtesy in a world where rudeness is often the norm. Courteous language and

behavior should characterize the Christian in the daily walk. Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you

and learn of me, for my yoke is chrestos..." Jesus is saying my yoke is kind. He does not make a

yoke that is rough so that is cuts into the neck of the oxen as it plows. He makes His yokes smooth

so they do not irritate. They are easy to wear and make the job easy. This is being kind and

considerate, and that is the way Christians are to treat other people. We are to make life easier and

more pleasant for all who cross our path.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is in such radical language that we seldom see the relevance

of it for our daily living. We seldom to never see anyone laying in the road beaten, and so the

message is lost on us. The point of the parable is not to be on the lookout for victims of robbers, but

to recognize that anyone who is in need is your neighbor, and you are to love your neighbor as

yourself. In other words, anyone God puts in your path is to be treated with kindness. Everyone has

burdens, and they need encouragement. Do not add to their load by being inconsiderate and

thoughtless. They get plenty of that in a day. The Christian is to be different, and to, by being kind,

make an impression on them that somebody does care.

Many people who have troubles have brought them on themselves. There anti-Christian life style

has made their lives a mess. It is hard to be kind to people like this. That is why we need the fruit of

the Spirit kindness that goes beyond the natural kindness of the human spirit. This natural kindness

is precious, but it will not enable you to be Christ like when you confront those who do not deserve

kindness. Listen to Jesus commanding the impossible in Luke 6:35, "But love your enemies, do

good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be

great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."

When someone cuts you off, or grabs your parking place which you are waiting for, that is your

opportunity to be a Christian. Anybody can say thanks and be kind when people are being nice.

But the Christian is to be kind when others are being jerks and treating you badly. This does not

mean you do not fight injustice and discrimination, but you do it with kindness toward your foes,

even when they will reject that kindness, and respond with more negative behavior. This is a step up

from the previous fruit of patience. Patience is passive and puts up with a lot, but kindness is more

active and goes out of its way to return good for evil. Many Christians will endure those who wrong

them, but they will not go the next step and be kind to them.

Peter Ainslie III, in his book, Cultivating The Fruit Of The Spirit, tells this historical example of

the power of kindness.  When Robert Southey, once poet laureate of England, was a small boy, there was a Negro boy in the same neighborhood by the name of Jim. The white boys took great pleasure in calling him

"nigger" and other degrading epithets, which always grieved Jim. One winter morning when the white boys had planned to go skating, Southey found one of his skates broken. Remembering that Jim had a new pair of skates, he hurried over to Jim's house and asked him to loan him his skates, to which Jim readily agreed, saying, "Oh, yes, Robert, you can have them and welcome." After several hours he returned them and found Jim seated by the fire in the kitchen reading his Bible. Southey thanked him kindly, and as Jim took the skates from his hands, with tears in his eyes he said, "Robert, don't call me 'nigger' anymore." Southey burst into tears. Years afterward in telling the story he said that after that he never dropped into the practice of calling people uncomplimentary nicknames. Kindness in the heart of the Negro boy had conquered one who became foremost in English literature. An angry unkind response to prejudice could have led Southey to become a bigot for the rest of his life, and to have influenced many others to follow. Kindness is no wimp in the arsenal of Christian weapons to fight evil. It is one of the big guns. Beth Robertson, in poetry says,

When I think of the charming people I know, It's surprising how often I find The chief of the qualities that make them so is just that they are kind. Being kind is a matter of being aware of other people's feelings and needs. We get so self-centered that we are unaware of others needs, and so we fail to be kind. We are often unkind to those closest to us. We need to see that kindness is not just for our enemies, but for our loved ones

as well. Paul stresses this in Eph.4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each

other, just as in Christ God forgave you." The implication is, Christian people will rub each other

the wrong way at times, and they will be rude and offensive. This is when it is a great temptation to

respond in like manner. We need the fruit of the Spirit to overcome such temptation, and instead, be

kind. When Christians act natural they are quenching the Spirit.

A Christian mother was shocked, when after a day of irritability, she heard her child pray at

bedtime, "Dear God, make mommy be kind to us like she is to people we visit." Parents often forget

the importance of kindness in raising their children. John Drescher in his book, Spirit Fruit, which is

the best book available on the fruits of the Spirit, quotes many authorities. One is Dr. William Bede

McGrath, Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association who said, "Ninety percent of all mental

illness that comes before me could have been prevented, or could yet be cured, by simple kindness."

Then he quotes Amy R. Raabe-

 

Scattered seeds of kindness

Everywhere you go;

Scatter bit of courtesy-

Watch them grow and grow.

Gather buds of friendship;

Keep them till full-blown.

You will find more happiness

Than you have ever known.

 

Your own happiness, as well as that of others, is wrapped up in this fruit of kindness. Fruit is not

only good for physical health, it is also essential for spiritual health.

Charlie Shedd, in his marriage enrichment material, has been telling couples for decades that one

of the keys to a happy marriage is the kindness of complimenting your mate every day. John

Drescher saw this strategy work even in the work place. He tells of the secretary who went to work

for an executive who was notorious for his critical spirit. He kept a secretary for about two months

at best. She needed this job bad, and though it was torture to endure him, she decided to move up

the next step from patience to kindness. She decided she would pay the old goat a compliment every

day. It was not easy, but every day she found some little thing to compliment him about. They were

simple things like, "That is nice material in your suit sir." It took time, but his hard heart softened,

and this secretary by kindness made him a lovable enough man to marry. He became her husband,

not just her boss, by the power of kindness. Frederick William Faber, author of many hymns like, "Faith Of Our Fathers and There's A Wideness In God's Mercy," made this powerful statement-

 

Kind words are the music of this world. They have a power

which seems to be beyond natural causes, as if they were

some angel's song which had lost its way and come to earth.

It seems as if they could almost do what in reality God alone

can do-soften the hard and angry hearts of men. No one was

ever directed by a sarcasm-crushed, perhaps, if the sarcasm

was clever enough, but drawn nearer to God, never.....

 

Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.  Not everyone can be eloquent or learned, but everyone can be kind, and by kindness change lives. You will experience a lot of failure in life, but none will revolve around kindness. C. R. Gibben wrote-

 

I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight That to somebody's need made me blind;

But I never have yet felt a twinge of regret for being a little too kind. Someone defined a Christian as one who makes it easy for others to believe in God. The most likely way to do this is by displaying the fruit of kindness. Is anybody happier because you passed his way? Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?  This day is almost over, and its toiling time is through; Is there anyone to utter now, a friendly word for you?  Can you say tonight in passing, with the day the slipped so fast, that you helped a single person of the many that you passed?  Is a single heart rejoicing, of what you did or said? Does one whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead? Did you waste the day or lose it?  Was it well or poorly spent? Did you leave a trail of kindness, or a scar of discontent? (Author unknown)

 

Mr. and Mrs. Grayson are missionaries in Nigeria, Africa. One day he lost control of his car and

went into the ditch. It was up to the hub caps in mud. He knew he would have walk eight miles to

the nearest town to get help, and Mrs. Grayson would have to wait in the car. She said it would be

okay, but she was fearful. Darkness was coming, and she was soon hearing all kinds of strange

noises. Then she heard voices. She flicked on the headlights and saw two men coming toward the

car. They asked her who she was. She told them and they left. But shortly she heard voices again.

The two men had come back with two women caring blankets and bundles of wood. They spread

the blankets out, and started a fire. They invited her to join them. They were so friendly she got out

and sat with them. They talked of all kinds of things, and then she asked them why they came to

keep her company.

One of the men smiled and said, "we have been waiting three years to do something for you.

Three years ago your husband drove through our village, and when he saw that my little daughter

was ill he took her to the mission hospital. She was there a long time, but they saved her life. We

have waited three years to thank him. We would be happy to sit with that good man's wife, and keep

her company all night if necessary." They were showing kindness because they had been deeply

touched by an act of kindness.

People who do not grasp the theology of Christianity can easily grasp its love when they see it

displayed in acts of kindness. Instead of thinking of kindness as a minor virtue, we need to exalt it to

the level where the Bible puts it-a vital ingredient to being Christ like. William Penn, the Christian

founder of Pennsylvania, has been quoted often for these words of wisdom, "I expect to pass through

life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any

fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again." Let

this be your daily prayer as you dress each morning, Lord, help me put on this day, and for your

glory display the fruit of kindness. 

 

Extra: Kindness

I choose kindness. . .I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid.  And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

 

Read: Galatians 5:22-25

"22 But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful 23 and gentle and having control of oneself. There is no law against things of that kind. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their sinful nature to his cross. They don't want what their sinful nature loves and longs for. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us march in step with the Spirit." (NIRV)

 

Reading Scriptures:

Matthew 18:23-27

Romans 2:4                

Galatians 6:1-2

1 Peter 3:4

2 Peter 1:5-7

Matthew 5:5

Matthew 11:28-30

2 Corinthians 10:1

Ephesians 4:1-3

Galatians 5:16-18

Romans 8:4-6

 

Reflection Questions: Kindness

 

1.  Do your words and actions reflect a desire to value, treasure and appreciate others, or are your words controlling, effective and imperative?

2.  Do you have a pattern of trying to encourage and build others up, or are you unconsciously tearing others down byway of sarcasm, criticism, complaint and anger?

3. Have you been demonstrating actions of service to others, or do others tend to serve you more?

4. How often do you consider your ability to meet the needs of others with your resources, even at cost to yourself?

5.  Are you pouring yourself out for other people, or does your life simply star you and your own needs?

 

Personal Prayer:

Father God, please forgive me for allowing pride to ever visit my door. Thank You for loving me enough to tell me when I am doing, thinking, or believing the wrong things.  Help me to never think I know more than You.  Help me to always be ready to learn and remain teachable in all things.  Help me to hear You and accept Your correction.  Help me to develop the fruit of meekness and to remove pride from my heart. I love You, Lord, and I want to always be in the Truth.  I want to remain humble and lined up with Your will for my life. Show me where there is sin and wrong thinking in my life, and help me to lay it down at Your feet.  Thank You for the Truth and correction of Your Word. In Jesus' Mighty Name, Amen.

 

Ending Scripture: Isaiah 55:11

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

Prayer Time

Prayer Time
Praying for Peace