Crossroads Church
People on mission with God
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Crossroads Church
People on mission with God
www.crossroadschurchcma.org
175 County Road 78, Middletown NY 10940
845-343-8267

Digging Deeper

DIGGING DEEPER ABOUT KINDNESS


Posted: 5/12/2013

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Colossians 3:12

Opening Illustration: Whatever Happened to Kindness?

We live in a society in which kindness is becoming an increasingly rare commodity.  A few years ago, the cover story of USA Today began with this observation: “A surly driver cuts into your lane.  Your teenager brings home a CD with lewd, hostile lyrics.  A political candidate in a TV ad morphs into a convicted murderer.  A star baseball player spits at an umpire.  A radio talk show host insults the president while he’s sitting right there… it is impossible to ignore the growing rudeness, even harshness, of American life.”

To Discuss:

  • Can you remember a time when someone went out of his/her way to show kindness to you?  Briefly share this experience and how it made you feel.
  • Why do you think there is so little kindness in the world today?
  • Do you think the lack of kindness is getting worse over time?  If so, why?

Review From Previous Week:

  • What aspect of the fruit of the Spirit did we study last week?
  • What are some things you learned about biblical patience?
  • How have you lived out the aspect of patience in your life this week?

The Kindness of God

You can never be too kind.  We all hunger to be treated with courtesy and kindness.  People from all walks of life were attracted to Jesus for this reason.  He, too, came into an unkind world, a dog-eat-dog, every-man-for-himself culture.  No mental institutions, hospitals, or organizations of mercy existed then.  Yet when Jesus came, He poured kindness into every bowl of human suffering.  No one ever accused Him of being unkind, even His most bitter enemies.

He teaches us that we should be kind not only to those who don’t deserve it, but also to those who don’t appreciate it.  Even in His life His acts of kindness were misunderstood.  His greatest act of kindness—His death on the cross—has been misunderstood and even reviled by much of the world for over 2,000 years.

Read the Scripture:

Men, why are you doing this?  We (Paul and Barnabas) too are only men, human like you.  We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, Who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  In the past, He let all nations go their own way.  Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy  (Acts 14:15-17)

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:3-5)

It is interesting and important to note that in both of these passages, God demonstrated His kindness to people who didn’t ask for it, want it, or appreciate it.  His kindness met both physical and spiritual needs, not because it was warranted, but because it was needed.

To Discuss:

  • In each of these passages, how is God’s kindness demonstrated?
  • Describe the people to whom His kindness is shown.
  • What do these verses teach us about God’s kindness?
  • How is Christ’s death on the cross the ultimate act of kindness by God?  Use Titus 3:3-5 in your answer.

The Fruit of Kindness

Kindness is a word that is sometimes used ambiguously and is hard to understand biblically.  Recognizing kindness is often easy, but defining it is more difficult.  A great foundation for understanding kindness can be found in 1 Corinthians 13.  Most of us know this as the “love chapter” of the Bible.  In this one chapter we find perhaps the greatest and most detailed description of biblical love.  In verse 4 Paul begins his description of love and he writes, “Love is patient, love is kind.”  When Paul illustrated how love acts, patience leapt to his mind first.  Immediately following he writes, “and is kind,” giving the impression that love and kindness belong together.

Last week we studied the fruit of patience.  Patience is love forbearing.  It is self-restraint under provocation.  Kindness, though, is a more active expression of love toward God and others.  The love Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13 is agape love… the perfect love of God.  This type of love was expressed perfectly in the life of Christ.  His love for God was expressed in His kindness towards others.  Christ’s life teaches us a real lesson about kindness: True kindness costs.  It cost Jesus His life.

To Discuss:

•     Discuss some examples of how Christ’s love for God was demonstrated in His kindness towards others.

Suggestions:

Feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:14-21)

Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-29)

Woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11)

•     How are love for God and kindness towards others connected?

Being Tasty:

As we saw above, kindness is an attribute of God.  The word “kindness” is not used frequently in the New Testament, but there are numerous examples of kindness. The word “kindness” in Galatians 5:22 has its root in the Greek word, “useful.”  On the surface, this may not seem like an important detail.  However, as we dig deeper, we will see that the “useful” kindness that is the fruit of the Spirit is what will set us apart as the Body of Christ.

One of the best examples of this type of usefulness is found in the actions of the “good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37).  In this passage an expert in the Law asks Jesus what he must do to have eternal life.  Jesus responds with the question, “What does the Bible say?”  The Pharisee answered correctly, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus affirms his answer saying, “Do this and you will live.”

But then an interesting thing happens.  The Scripture says that the Pharisee wanted to justify himself so he added one more question: “Who is my neighbor?”  His question tells us a lot about the condition of his heart.  Obviously, he had not loved all people equally or he would not have asked that question.  It was common in Jewish culture at this time to interpret the Old Testament to mean that love for all men equally was not required by God.  In particular, one did not have to love Samaritans because they were enemies, racially mixed so therefore inferior, and perverters of Old Testament religion.

Jesus’ answer to the question “who is my neighbor?” is the parable of the good Samaritan.  In this parable Jesus describes a man in great need—he had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead.  Who would show him kindness?  Not a priest.  Not a Levite.  These were the upper classes among Jews at this time.  These are the examples of godliness that lower classes would follow.  Yet in this parable they were neither kind nor merciful… yet a Samaritan was!

Jesus was exposing the self-righteous pride of many of the Jews in His day.  Their pride led to unkindness.  The Samaritan had nothing to be proud of.  He was moved with compassion and bound up the man’s wounds, carried him to an inn so he could recover, and paid for his medical expenses.

The real question here was not, “who is my neighbor,” as if we can make a list of who is and is not a neighbor (thus a list of who we do and do not have to love as ourselves).  Jesus raised and answered the real question, “To whom should I act as a neighbor?”  His answer, “I should be a neighbor to whoever needs me.”  Kindness is availability, usefulness.  In kindness, we should give ourselves to others based on their need, not their merit.  Isn’t this how God displays His kindness in our lives?  When, like the man in the parable, we laid robbed and beaten by the world, left to die in our sins, He came to us, bound up our wounds, carried us to safety, and paid the price for our sin.  Despite our sin and our rebellion He has given us all we need for this life, and the one to come.  This is kindness.

To Discuss:

  • Read Luke 10:25-37 (make sure to explain the meaning of kindness).
  • Discuss the interaction between Jesus and the expert in the law.  What questions did he ask Jesus and how did Jesus answer?
  • Why was this man asking these questions?
  • How did the Samaritan man show kindness in this parable?
  • So, based on Jesus’ example here, who is your neighbor?

Cultivating the Fruit of Kindness

How do we cultivate kindness in our lives? The answer can be summed up in one word: humility.  Just as pride produces unkindness (illustrated in the parable by the priest and Levite), humility produces kindness.  Maybe Jesus wanted the Pharisee to see that he had to become like a Samaritan—without pride or worldly status—before he could learn to be kind.  We cannot be kind without humility.  Even Christ’s kindness was a result of His humility.

Read the Scripture:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!  (Philippians 2:3-8)

Young men, in the same way, be submissive to those who are older.  All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  (1 Peter 5:5)

To Discuss:

  • How do humility and kindness work together?
  • Do you think it is possible to be truly kind with a prideful heart?  Explain your answer.
  • How does Philippians 2:3-8 describe humility?
  • Is it possible for a non-believer to be kind?  If so, what makes a Christlike kindness different? (Relate your answer to the Scripture above)

Living It Out:

As believers, there are two outlets for our kindness.  First is within the Body of Christ.  We are part of a community, and we need each other.  We need each other’s time, prayers, talents and money.  We cannot deny kindness to fellow believers.

There is also another outlet for our kindness… the world.  The greater our love for God, the greater our kindness will be towards others.  This is why Jesus closed his conversation with the Pharisee following the parable by saying, “Go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

The fact that a Samaritan showed kindness teaches us that we must show kindness to men of all races.  And this kindness is to be based on need—whether physical, emotional or spiritual—and not merit.

At the beginning of this lesson, the class participated in an activity where we spent just two minutes thinking about ways to show kindness.  Think of how many ideas we came up with in just two minutes.  What if we were each to spend just five minutes at the beginning of each day in intentional prayer and thoughtfulness about how we can show kindness to others?  Think of the impact our church could make if we were intentionally kind each day.  What if this kindness was based not on selfish motives, but on a desire to bring honor and glory to Christ?

Scripture to Memorize:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.   (Colossians 3:12)