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The kindness of God

The kindness of God The kindness of God
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text: Isaiah 54:8, 1 Peter 2:3

Devotional text: Colossians 3:12

This week, the focus is on the kindness of God and how God’s kindness spills over onto us.

The prophet Isaiah spoke much about the kindness of God. Scriptures such as Isaiah 54:8 and 63:7 tell us of God’s everlasting kindness and compassion upon us, as well as God’s good deeds toward his people.

From the Creation through Exodus and beyond, God’s acts of love and protection toward those who put their faith and trust in him abound.

As we move on to the New Testament, the kindness of God continues and is read in such scriptures as Ephesians 2:7 and 1 Peter 2:3, with both speaking to us of God’s kindness through his Son Jesus Christ, who taught us about God’s love and God’s kingdom, who came to earth to give a personal saving relationship with God through his death on the cross and resurrection, that all who believe in him would receive eternal life.

While in the Book of Proverbs from the Old Testament, Solomon gave us advice concerning kindness; in the New Testament, Jesus taught us about how to live with one another as good and kind people.

Solomon told us such truths in Proverbs 12:25: “An anxious heart weighs a person down, but a kind word cheers him up”; 14:21, “The one who despises his neighbor sins; blessed is the one who is kind to the needy”; 14:31, “The one who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy hears God.”

To be kind toward one another is to show sympathy and compassion, to help as we are able. God never asks us to do what we are not able to do. However, if we have the way and means to help someone in need, we should.

Often, it is the Holy Spirit who nudges us to move forward to be a help to someone in need. Acting upon this nudging is both pleasing to God and a blessing to both the one in need and the one who provides the help.

Colossians 3:12 tells us we are “holy and dearly” loved by God. This scripture continues by speaking to us about how we should live in this world, being “clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience … Bear with each other … Forgive one another as the Lord forgave you. And then, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

It is not unusual that many of our New Testament scriptures begin and end with God’s love, because it is in God’s love that we find all the rest of the good attributes of life. They are all connected. There is no evil found in them, just as there is no evil found in God’s love for us. For God’s love is not the same as human love. It is a pure love.

As the Apostle Paul wrote in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians, “love is patient, love is kind … it does not envy, it does not boast … the greatest of these is love.”

Luke 6:35 tells us to love our enemies, “do good to them without expecting anything back. Then, your reward will be great.”

God loves us, and God loves to bless us, especially as we follow his teachings about kindness, goodness and compassion toward one another.

There are other scriptures that help us to put things in perspective. James 2:12-14 tells us to “act kindly … kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time”; Matthew 7:12, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you … ”; and Hebrews 13:16, “kindness and goodness to others is well pleasing to God.”

These are simple words of wisdom. If you want someone to treat you well, start by treating them well. If someone is being harsh with you, show them kindness. Many times, a kind word stops someone in the midst of an angry outburst. There is something about a person who is patiently calm, who shows kindness, that causes the speaker to settle down.

God knows that a kind word puts away wrath (anger), and a person who shows loving kindness toward others is often known as a person of peace and understanding. Jesus showed us these attributes, and he taught his followers the importance of being kind to one another and to share with each other.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul put all of these attributes together in the fruits of the Holy Spirit, given to us freely as believers. The fruits of the Spirit are not so much individual ways of behaving as they are connected with one another under God’s love.

In Galatians 5:22, it is not by accident that he begins the fruits with the word “love.” The fruits as listed are: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Paul adds rightly that there is no law against these ways of behaving.

In 2 Peter 1:3-11, this apostle gave us a progression to grow into as the people of God: “add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”

This is not a list that we do one at a time and on to the next. All of these are connected in our faith. We do not do one and leave it aside. We grow through them and they stay with us as spiritually mature people of God.

For instance, our faith leads us to action, to be good people. The knowledge Peter speaks of is not worldly knowledge but the knowledge of who God is in our lives, as we grow in trusting the God who is always faithful to us.

As we continue as Christ followers, we develop self-control. Our self-control can include control over food and drink as well as our emotions. Perseverance is in regard to persevering in our faith which develops in us the virtues of God. We see that all people are our neighbors, and it is good to show kindness to all. Through our growth as Christians, we not only understand, but feel God’s love within us.

God’s kindness began out of his love for us and has been proven through scripture. God’s kindness toward us has shown us how to be kind toward others. All good things come together out of God’s love. The kindness we show to others grows even more as we understand God’s loving kindness toward us.

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