Sermons - The Kindness of GodWe have begun a journey together aimed at answering one simple question: what of God’s nature allows Him to be worthy of not just a place of prominence in our lives
but to be first and foremost in our lives?
We can grow closer to God as we delve deeply into the fruits of the Spirit, knowing that greater familiarity with these will allow us to become more familiar with the heart of God Himself.
Familiarity with His heart allows the mature Christian to trust Him more. Becoming familiar with His heart allows the skeptic to trust Him for the first time.
Today, we look at that fruit of the Spirit known as “kindness”.
“Kindness is a persuasive spirit of gentleness and servanthood which is motivated by a sincere love for others and represents a heart attitude behind the good works done (i.e., goodness is the expression of kindness). Contrary to kindness are the emotions of anger, bitterness, selfishness and pride.” (YouVersion)
God’s longsuffering (patience) creates the space in time where other fruits of the Spirit can take seed, mature and produce bounty in the lives of believers.
Kindness is the deep desire to embrace the process of scattering seed to the soil; rising up early in each morning to oversee and water generously the crop planted.
The farmer, rancher and gardener each tend to his crop which he hopes will grow and mature for the harvest.
So too, does the Lord our God possess kindness in His heart toward mankind as He plants, waters and warms us in our maturing faith.
Scripture Shows Us The Way
Samuel was a prophet for God and he had a dour message for King Saul: “And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be the commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14, NKJV)
As a boy David was a shepherd. Too young to fight on the field of battle, too small to wear King Saul’s armor, yet large enough in faith for the Lord our God that he didn’t hesitate to meet Goliath in battle when all others would not. “David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:48, NKJV)
So great was his confidence in the Lord our God.
As a man he was the King of Israel, a military tactician; he was also a murderer and an adulterer. He was the writer of half the Book of Psalms, where he details his desire to seek God’s heart, despite his personal fears, sins and desires. David was a man who never allowed his human nature and related errors in judgment to dissuade him or convince him that God was not worth pursuing. He did not allow his sins to convince him that God had stopped pursuing him.
There is much the believer and non-believer alike can learn from the good and the bad examples provided in the life of King David and the relationship he had with God. As David’s example reveals when we pursue the heart of God honestly and openly, even when we have strayed in our sin, He will respond by endearing and revealing more of Himself to us. (Read James 4:8)
Not so coincidentally, we will become less of ourselves and more like Him via His Holy Spirit. (Read John 3:30) Conversely, if we focus on and pursue evil or wrongdoing, turning our backs on God, that sinful and dark nature will consume more and more of us while we become increasingly sinful and dark in our hearts.
God designed us very specifically in this way; that we do in fact become more like that upon which we focus our attention or in this case upon Whom we focus our attention. He knows that if we meditate on the things which are His that we will esteem them and reflect more of these characteristics as we invite Him deeper into our lives; turning more of our lives over to His will. We would in fact look more like Jesus to the world and His peace, as it reads in Philippians 4:9, would be with us as we meditate on the things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy. (Read Philippians 4:8)
At A Crossroads of Decision
In 2 Samuel 9:1-7, we see David at a crossroads of decision. Scripture tells of David inquiring and seeking out any seed or lineage of King Saul; presumably to snuff it out and extinguish it forever. Since this was the custom of the day, no one would have objected or even raised a concern. It was expected because it would have ensured David’s security in his later years. That no offspring or loyalist to King Saul would ever rise up and exact revenge; taking the crown for himself at the expense of David’s life.
But this isn’t what David was doing. In verse 1 it reads, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Then in verse 3 it reads, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” By having a heart for God and knowing the heart of God, having spent time with Him in relationship through prayer, meditation, confession and reflection; by never giving up and never quitting despite his failures, David reflected the heart of God at this moment in his life. He desired to show and administer kindness to those individuals who might actually bring personal harm to him later.
David, by reflecting the very heart of God, did what was contrary to the culture, contrary to this world and contrary to his human instincts which always petitions for the assurance of survival. The end result being that not only was the son of Jonathan not killed, he was given three promises:
1) that he had nothing to fear;
2) that all the property of Saul would be restored to him;
3) that he would eat bread at King David’s table continually. (Read 2 Samuel 9:7)
By reflecting the kindness of God and allowing His Spirit to show through him, David secured and provided for the son of Jonathan and his future completely and without question. More than that, David has indicated that they will be spending time together breaking bread and forging a relationship.
At Gethsemane, Jesus was at a crossroads of decision - to be the ultimate display of God’s heartfelt kindness or to be relieved of that duty which was presented to Him exclusively. In His human nature Jesus desired the assurance of survival. Jesus petitions His Heavenly Father in prayer: “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39, NKJV)
In His divine nature, Jesus yielded unto His Heavenly Father and the decision He would make. God was well within His right to let this cup pass from Jesus and withhold salvation from the world. But we know today, as David knew then, the God we serve overflows with kindness deep from within His nature and He desires strongly to pour this kindness into the lives of all humanity. The ultimate display of His kindness toward us is the wrath which fell to His Son; as He took upon Himself our sins and transgressions.
God’s Kindness Speaks To Us Personally
The kindness that David experienced from God and expressed on behalf of God in the Old Testament is the same kindness that reached paramount proportions in the New Testament when God did not allow the cup, full of His wrath, to pass from His Son - when He made it known that the only option was for Jesus to drink this cup dry on our behalf.
Through this atonement God speaks to us personally and promises the same things to us that David did to the grandson of King Saul:
1) He tells us that we have nothing to fear;
2) He tells us that He will restore us to our true home, that is, heaven;
3) He tells us that we will dine at His table continually.
These are assured for those individuals who have realized their shortcomings and sinfulness - their need for a Savior, their desire for a loving Lord - and have called upon the name of Jesus to be exactly that in their lives.
When we look inward what do we expect to find? What do we actually find? When we invite God to do the same what do we hope He finds? What will He find? Is it a heart beating strong with yet another fruit from the Holy Spirit? Which is why we are to "keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NKJV). And that “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” (Matthew 15:14, NKJV)
Are our hearts filled with kindness, a fruit of the Spirit?
The world in which we live is not really big on kindness. It doesn’t give points for it and often mistakes any display of kindness as a sign of weakness. Whenever weakness appears it seems that someone will be in a position to take full advantage. For this reason, in our human nature, it is easier and certainly seems safer, to allow one’s heart to harden and maybe even die than to allow the Holy Spirit to move us closer in image to that of Jesus. It is okay to acknowledge this to ourselves and to God. For we should not deceive ourselves and God is big enough for us to confess to Him what He already knows is true.
Let each of us pray before our audience of One that He who has shown us kindness from the beginning, He who shows us kindness today, that He examine our hearts and bring forth that which reflects His heart to the world. Let us pray that what flows from us may be pleasing in His sight with the hope that all would come to know Jesus Christ as the perfect expression of God’s heart; accepting Him as Lord, Master and Friend.