A Daily Moment with Jesus – Wednesday, June 17, 2020 Karen
Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness
“Preferring all others” …. a phrase I heard a lot as I was growing up from my mother. As a missionary’s kid and a preacher’s kid, she heard it a lot from her mother. She would remind us with this phrase before people came over for a visit, making sure everyone else was cared for before we satisfied our own needs; or before attending a potluck dinner where she asked us to wait toward the end so that others would have the benefit of the largest variety of choices. When mom would bake, we would ask for which church group or family in the church it was for, because we were pretty sure it was not for us.
Most of my life, my dad was in some sort of ministry, so we were often struggling financially. In recent years, my 2 brothers and I would often laugh over stories of drinking powdered milk with our cereal and having one quart of ice cream for dessert for a week (which was usually gone within the first 2 days after purchasing it). Feeding 2 growing boys could be expensive, so my mom would allow the entire family to help themselves to the meal she prepared, and then taking her own helping from what was left. She was often seen cleaning off the chicken bones from peoples’ plates as her only portion of the chicken for that meal. You see, my mom didn’t just ask us to “prefer others”, she lived it in her own life – honoring others’ needs and wants before her own.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I discovered this idea of “preferring others” came from Scripture. In Philippians 2: 1-4 it says:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Mom was trying to instill in us what Paul was trying to encourage in the early church at Philippi. He goes on to say this:
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
Using Christ’s example as a humble servant, Paul encouraged the church to live in humility as Christ did. Christ displayed the ultimate act of KINDNESS when he came to serve and not be served. Here He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and yet he chose this incredible act of love and kindness to us. We, therefore, are to show that kind of kindness to others.
This idea of putting others before ourselves is radical and countercultural. Our sin nature wants to continually “look out for #1”. Our founding fathers fought hard to protect our induvial rights as people of this country – rights which we are now asked to lay down for the sake of others. This is a HARD thing to do – I would say impossible in our own strength. But God does not leave us floundering on our own to figure this thing out. In Ephesians 3, Paul tells us our power and strength to do all this is from the Holy Spirit:
16 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
The fruit of the Spirit of KINDNESS is the selfless act of putting others’ needs before our own and treating them how we would want to be treated. This can only be achieved by living and moving and being empowered by the HOLY SPIRIT. We cannot do this in our strength. It is impossible!! But Paul is reminding us that God is “able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” in us and through us because of His work empowering us. And it is all to bring HIM glory! AMEN.