I love this sweatshirt of my daughter’s! It’s amazing how many compliments she’s received when wearing it! You can see people read it, then re-read it! Their heads kind of tilt to the side, like a dog, when he’s trying to figure out what’s going on. The words make you think, especially since so much communication these days seems to be motivated by self!
We’re Chicago Cubs fans and were watching a game recently. Anthony Rizzo, our four-time Gold Glove award winning, starting first baseman, was “hauling it” toward the rolled-up tarp out of the field of play, attempting to catch a foul ball. He’s done it numerous times and has even jumped up ON the rolled-up infield tarp as well as on a ledge in front of the fans to successfully catch multiple foul balls, so we held our breath while he ran all out! This particular time, the Cubs were on the road, and his efforts wouldn’t become a highlight reel; he, unfortunately, didn’t get to the ball in time. We still applauded his efforts and replayed his past accomplishments in our minds. That’s when I heard one of the opposing team’s fans yell, “A [insert the other team’s name] would’ve caught that!” Really?!? Some things just ought not be said! I don’t care who I’m watching! If someone displays great effort, give them credit! Why do people love to hate on people, verbally?!?
Kindness is not just something we act out physically! It’s verbal, too! Yet, even in kindness, we seem to want something out of it. Maybe we’re kind, so we can be noticed, have a good reputation, get a good tip, or even receive recognition. Is kindness about the one we’re being kind to at all, or has it become more about us, in our minds?
In Galatians 5:22, which we’ve dug into a bit here and there this month, we find that one of the results of the Spirit’s work or activity inside of us is kindness. What I love about this is that the Greek word, here, for “kindness” means “(‘useful kindness’) [and] refers to meeting real needs, in God’s way, in His timing. [It’s] Spirit-produced goodness which meets the need and avoids human harshness (cruelty).”1 This kindness can only be Spirit-produced, as God is the One Who fully knows what’s going on in others’ lives, hearts, and minds as well as what they really need right then! Kindness is part of His character and what He displayed to us through Christ (Ephesians 2:7), so it makes sense that it can only be produced by His Spirit! Our tendency, apart from Him, is to think about ourselves and how we can benefit from a kind act, which depletes the act of real service (meeting the real needs of others)!
“Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”Romans 2:4 HCSB
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it, again: Our God is purposeful! While I know this, it doesn’t stop me from being in awe of Him when I read this verse! The Greek word for “despise” is kataphronéō; it means that we “thought down” on God by willfully disobeying Him and/or openly disrespecting Him. In fact, the second part of the word, “phronéō,” is, technically, our heart/our thoughts regulating (or controlling) us from within, which, then, translates to how we act. Our outward disobedience or disrespect of Him, going against His character and purpose for us, boils down to our thinking our way is best…elevating our will above His (i.e., paying no regard to Who He is or what He says)…and desiring control of our lives. His character, the very essence of Who He is, is what He demonstrates to us through His Son, Jesus, with the purpose of leading us to Himself! He also leads us with the intension of changing our minds, which is what “repentance” means here, to allowing His Spirit to regulate (or control) us from within.
Kindness, by definition, here, is meant to be useful, to fulfill its purpose! God first showed us kindness by restraining His wrath and being patient with us; His purpose in this was to lead us to change our thoughts from disobedience to obedience, from disrespect to respect, from our way to His. Once our minds change to resemble Christ more, then the Spirit of God works His kindness out in how we act, so others can develop a different opinion about Him, as well, and repent! Kindness isn’t the only thing that has purpose! So do we!
1HELPS Word-studies. “5544. chréstotés.” Bible Hub, https://biblehub.com/greek/5544.htm (accessed May 26, 2021).