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KINDNESS/GOODNESS: What Does it Mean to be a Mature Christian Disciple? -- (Luke 6:37-45)

KINDNESS/GOODNESS: What Does it Mean to be a Mature Christian Disciple? -- (Luke 6:37-45)

By Ted Schroder,
www.tedschroder.com
August 6, 2017

William Penn wrote, "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, for I shall not pass this way again." Someone said, "Be kind to everybody. You never know who might show up in the jury at your trial."

A poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school was down to his last penny and was hungry. He asked for a drink of water from a young lady and she brought him a large glass of milk. He asked, "How much do I owe you?" She replied, "You don't owe me anything. Mother has taught us never to accept pay for an act of kindness." Years later when she was admitted to hospital with a rare disease a specialist was called in for consultation. He recognized her at once and worked hard to help her. Dr. Howard Kelly asked the hospital to pass the patient's bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. When she opened it she read these words: "Paid in full with one glass of milk."

Jesus taught, "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38). There is a reciprocity in the affairs of life. We get back what we put into life. The mature Christian disciple is like his teacher. Everyone who is fully trained by Jesus will be like him. Jesus did good by responding to the needs of those around him. The apostles did good by showing kindness to the sick and the needy.

Kindness and goodness are the characteristics of God as revealed in Jesus. God, by definition, is the summun bonum: the chief good, the highest good. "God shows us his kindness in coming to save 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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:4-6). The kindness and goodness of the Holy Spirit is given to change our hearts from being unkind, cruel and evil, as seen in our critical nature, to being kind, nonjudgmental, forgiving, and self-aware.

Jesus tells us that we are not to judge, not to condemn people, not to hold grudges against people for the reciprocity in the affairs of life can boomerang on us. We can be judged, we can be condemned, we can be unforgiven if we don't watch out. If we are unkind and wish evil of people, we will suffer the consequences. We can be hypocrites in identifying the specks of sawdust in the eyes of other people and pay no attention to the plank in our own eye.

The problem lies in our own sinful nature. There are good trees and there are bad trees. They bear the fruit of their own nature. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45).

How can the heart be changed by the Holy Spirit to be kind and to do good? How can the critical person become an affirming person? How can we think the best of people rather than the worst? This is a besetting sin in politics and in religion. We can be most unkind of our political and theological opponents. Cartoonists can be vicious. Commentators and satirists can encourage a culture of unkindness. Frederick Faber has written that "it is harder for a clever man to be kind, especially in his words. He has the temptation to say clever things; and somehow, clever things are hardly ever kind things. There is a drop of acid in them."

This also a problem in families and in education. Parents and schoolteachers can be unkind, abusive and cruel.

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
Copyright © 1972/1975 by Dorothy Law Nolte

We have to learn to store up good things in our hearts rather than evil things. It means cultivating the attitude of gratitude. Being thankful for how the Lord has blessed you rather than being envious of others. It requires suppressing the desire to get even by repaying evil with evil and insult with insult but with blessing. It means praying for others rather than resenting them. "It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:17-18).

None of us is good. There is no one good except God. Read Romans 3:9-20. We all need to have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit. If we want to become mature Christian disciples we will seek to find our highest good in God, and find ways to be kind to our neighbors. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Eph 4:32).

END

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