Growing Fruit: Kindness

Galatians 5:16-26

I am sure glad that you ‘all got dressed today! For this would be the wrong place to be, even if one of us were naked! For as members of the Body of Christ we know that it sure is a kindness to be decently clothed in public!

But I think the kindness that Paul mentions to the church of Galatia is a bit more than for us to be dressed decently in public. There is a depth to the kindness mentioned here that we don’t find in our world. Yes, it is positive for our society to have kindness exhibited. How our society views kindness is different than this particular fruit of the Spirit.

We may see images on PSA billboards that say: “Be kind.” Or we may see bumper stickers that ask: “Why can’t we all just get along?” These are nice sayings to see in our society. It is the continual need to show kindness that drains us. We sometimes don’t want to be kind. There are times that our passions and desires enable us to be quite unkind!

How does the Holy Spirit grow the fruit of kindness in the churches? We know that the law, the commandments, are not able to change us. For when we break one law, we break them all! There has to be something more in life for us, than just breaking laws.

Jesus Christ came to set us free from the present age (1:4)! That means we are receiving mercy from God. We don’t deserve it, but God freely gives us forgiveness. As we accept and receive God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, we are free! This freedom is a freedom to live as Christ lives. This freedom is not on the level of our skin, to make us look decent.

For we take on Christ when we are baptized in Jesus’ name. Jesus literally covers us so that people see Jesus all over our lives. Jesus doesn’t stop there. Yes, Christ lives in us! Our faith in the Son of God enables us to live free. This is mercy. This is God working in us. This is God pardoning us.

Throughout time God has been directing us to turn to him. Ezekiel 18:30-32 says:

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.”

What mercy God has for us! He warns us to turn from our sins so that we may have life. Where do we find a new heart and a new spirit? We find a new heart and a new spirit as have Christ in us and the Spirit of God living in us!

Do we want this new heart and new spirit? For those who do, maybe we are speaking like Robert Louis Stevenson:

The Celestial Surgeon Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
+++If I have faltered more or less
+++In my great task of happiness;
+++If I have moved among my race
+++And shone no glorious morning face;
+++If beams from happy human eyes
+++Have moved me not; if morning skies,
+++Books, and my food, and summer rain,
+++Knocked on my sullen heart in vain:
+++Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take
+++And stab my spirit broad awake.

As our spirits are awake, we realize that we are set free to have freedom. That does not mean we allow our old self, our old sins, to keep working in our lives. The mercy God has given us is that we can be a new creation. This new creation is shown in us by Christ being in us. The kindness then that grows in the churches is the kindness that Jesus gave.

God gave us mercy by directing us to turn to him. Jesus gave us mercy, kindness, by dying on the cross of Calvary. That is the sort of kindness, the sort of mercy, we live now. As we read in various Psalms, God has lovingkindness for us. God is kind to us because He loves us. God is merciful to us because He loves us.

So what does that mean for us? As a pastor and as a Christian I have heard a number of times, “Pastor, God tells us to love the people in the church. He didn’t say that I had to like them.”

From what we read here in Galatians about the Holy Spirit growing fruit in the church, that is not correct. We can say we love one another all we want. It is when we show mercy, show kindness, that we actually do love one another!

We cannot do this loving, this showing mercy to one another on our own. For our flesh will say that those who rile us up don’t deserve anything from us. But the Spirit reminds us that we didn’t deserve what God gave us, yet God still gave us mercy. The new heart and the new spirit within us, the Holy Spirit, helps us to give mercy, to give kindness to one another. This is love being lived out.

What are we to do? We pray that God will help us to give kindness to other Christians. We seek ways to continue to get rid of our own selfish desires. We follow the Holy Spirit as He guides us to live the freedom Christ Jesus has given us.

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