When we think of kindness, we generally think about it in general terms of being nice to those around us. However, once we examine the Greek, the definition of chrestotes is broadened considerably. So let’s take a look. In addition to being nice, another word associated with kindness is benignity. This word expands the meaning to include tolerance towards others, so the thinking is for the children of God, we exhibit kindness EVEN when it requires tolerance of another person. Sure kindness to nice people is very easy, it is kindness to those whom we must tolerate that makes it challenging. I always try to find the place where the road divides between what God expects from us as his children, and the ways of the world; this certainly can be regarded as one of those considerations. Here’s another from the Greek that challenges us- moral goodness. When you think of kindness, does moral goodness come to mind? So to be kind for us is not enough. Without the element of moral, our goodness is no different than what is expected from the world. Lastly, to add to moral goodness another similar thought can be seen in the final definition of Chrestotes, the word “integrity,” which is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is easy to see where God is leading us with this, and what he expects of our level of kindness. Once again as in all we exhibit, this is another demonstration within our character that resembles our heavenly father. Therefore simply put, to see the fruit alive in us, is to see God. Blessings.
At one time, I wondered why patience made the fruit of the spirit list. It doesn’t spread itself out like love, nor does it exude the presence of peace. As my youth began to flee and I began to embrace middle age, the wisdom of God concerning patience gripped me, and it became abundantly clear why he uses patience as one of the attributes to define the children of God. Most of us have heard the cry “I want patience and I want it now.” Patience anchors our self discipline. Without patience, never could we peer into the eyes of self control. I have come to realize patience has an IMPORTANT work to do in us. It is patience that frames us, as we take time to help a person in need. It is patience that calms us in the face of an irate obscene loud speaking person. It is patience that fuels our tolerance of one another in difficult moments. It was patience that we witnessed as we observed Jesus with the leper, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, and in every situation. It’s patience at work that keeps us from blowing our stacks, losing our cool, and flying off at the handle. I am convinced we need to pray for MORE patience- an abundant amount of patience, so we can stoically stand in the face of any and everything, with the light of Jesus shining through us, as we humbly point to the old rugged cross. Patience is quiet. It does not bring attention to itself. When was the last time someone took your patience temperature? Who was it? A mate? Another driver? A slow cashier when you were in a hurry? Patience is always there to remind us to slow down and live one moment at a time, so we can see those in need around us. I have more that I will say next week. Until then, be patient. Blessings.
When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the sermon on the mount, he called his followers to the high ground of peace. I call this high ground because peace is not always the preferred ground, but is always the holy ground. The peace living in us is from God, and it, like the other manifestations of the fruit of the spirit, is regarded as another identifier of the people of God.
The challenge of peace is often our stubborn wills, egos and pride. To the world, the position of peace is seen as weak, however in the face of anger and hostility, peace is much stronger. Anyone can lose their cool and express their anger, but it takes great fortified spiritual strength to walk the way of peace in the presence of hostility.
One of the most beautiful demonstrations of this peace was the actions of Jesus, beginning in the garden, all the way to the cross. In every moment, he powerfully displayed a peace beyond all normal human understanding.
The apostle Paul further clarifies our walk, when he wrote these words in Romans 12:18, ”If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Understanding peace is not always possible within the other person, he says, “as far as it depends on you” live at peace with everyone. This week, seek peace. Speak peace. Establish peace. Allow peace to live in your heart, and be in peace. Blessings.
The bible tells us that Joy is another hallmark of the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. Joy is the attribute that is often confused with happiness. Although there is an outward resemblance, the similarity ends there. Happiness is what the world is most familiar with because it is a reaction (in the head) to external stimulus, therefore it is a controllable emotion. In contrast, joy is a much deeper emotion, generated from an entirely different place. The roots of joy are found in the grateful heart of a person, because of our redemption at the cross of Jesus; and the active work of the Holy Spirit in us. When God manifests himself, the joy we experience overtakes our emotions as uninhibited exuberance; springing out of a heart overwhelmed by the goodness of our God.
I believe God uses this joy so the world can see him alive in us. If that is the case, what happens when we allow life to steal our joy? You guessed it, we have put a basket over the light of our hearts and the world walking in darkness -remains in darkness. As you go about your daily activities this week, pause to take your “joy temperature” often. If our countenance does not point to an awesome God, then we need to ask ourselves what are we pointing to. Blessings.