Friday, October 16, 2009

Reaching for the Higher Standard of KINDNESS

It is the newfound world craze. There are all sorts of reality television shows and clubs being formed all based around it. It’s the phenomenon known as ‘random acts of kindness.’ Yet, in a scramble to claim even a modicum of credit, most if not all people will actually forget where the whole concept of kindness originally came from, however well motivated it is.

This value of kindness speaks every language and to every nationality under the sun. It is a human universality. It transcends language and foreseeably any other human barrier. In fact, it speaks an emotional and spiritual language all can understand; though many unfortunate ones—bonded as they are to the issues of this world—are quite tantalised by it.

Kindness is an inherent attribute of God, the Originator of the virtue—and all virtue. It’s the fifth fruit—the hinging, middle virtue—according to the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in Galatians 5:22-23.

But it’s not until we more fully begin to explore “kindness” that we see how packed full of meaning and how broad this term is. The Greek word chrāstotās means variously, utility, goodness, kindness, gentleness, kindness shown, beneficence, and virtue.[1]

It’s kindness’s sub-virtue of beneficence that I want to explore further as the most divine kindness, and with it, let’s link faithfulness. In the context of both these words—beneficence and faithfulness—we can enhance and solidify our concepts of kindness.

Kindness and faithfulness are so often linked in the Bible.[2] God’s character is the absolute nature of kindness—a kindness that never fails and is everlasting. And his beneficence is so profoundly and eternally charitable he showed us the ultimate kindness—the giving up of his Son, Jesus,[3] that we might have life—a life as yet unimaginable, yet it subsists today.

Yet, this outrageous kindness to us is given so freely for a reason—that we might understand God’s eternal plan.[4] We do not now have to endure the ‘sternness’ of God, for we have his kindness.[5]

Christ is both Saviour now and the down payment to us for what will unfold—a further raft of incomparably rich kindnesses (Ephesians 2:7); but it was for kindness that God expressed his love for us in Christ Jesus.

Indeed, “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.” –Titus 3:4-5 (NIV). We need to know this is something that God didn’t need to do.

Let’s get back to where this started. Kindness is a holy attribute that belongs to God. The ultimate example of kindness is to give something sacrificially; that which is priceless—something that costs the earth—and in the process we give ourselves up; to gain is to lose; and to lose is to gain. God chose to lose so that we might gain; but ultimately he won a cataclysmic battle because of his astounding kindness.

Cook up kindness seasoned specially with double portions of beneficence and faithfulness and we’ve created a delicious recipe for understanding the grace of God; a recipe found over and again in the Old Book.

And when we focus and meditate on this fabulous concoction, who knows what kindnesses God will show us; and in doing so, what kindnesses he’ll show for us to do toward others through the Holy Spirit.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] Wesley J. Perschbacher (Ed.), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1990), p. 440.

[2] See, for instance, 2 Samuel 2:6; 15:20; Psalm 18:50; Isaiah 54:8; Jeremiah 9:24.

[3] See Ephesians 2:7. The passage Ephesians 2:1-10 is wonderful Scripture worth meditating upon.

[4] See Romans 2:4

[5] See Romans 11:22.

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