By Jim Olsen
Every Christian should want to wear God’s kindness close to their heart, for kindness is directly opposed to judgment. Staying in his kindness protects you from wrath and is immensely important for keeping your life pure and holy. It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.
Most translations of the Bible translate two different Greek words as kindness: chrestotes, is defined as moral goodness, integrity and kindness, and its root word, chrestos, means kind and useful. Kindness is both spiritual clothing, meaning God provides kindness as his own nature that you can wear, and also a fruit, meaning that kindness is a trait that you display to others. Col 3:12 and Gal 5:22 gives us a double importance of making sure we are close to the kindness of God. Notice that there is no limit to kindness; for if God was not kind, mankind would have never survived generation after generation.
Col 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of compassion kindness (chrestotes), humility, gentleness, and patience.” Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness (chrestotes), goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Kindness can be directly contrasted with judgment. In Romans 2:1, Paul explains that anyone who judges another person guilty of sin, judges himself because he does the same thing. Coming to Christ requires that we recognize and turn away from our sin. At the same time, the laws of Christ expand sinfulness from the acting out to the thought process. Jesus expanded adultery from the act to the thought (Matt 5:27); he also did the same for murder, saying that anger would receive the same judgment as killing someone. (Matt 5:21).
This tendency to sin and judge I’ll call the ‘judgment camp.’ You probably have one foot in it now; judgment is really necessary to live. As I’m writing this I’m observing the terrible protests, riots and looting going on over George Floyd’s death. It’s made thousands of Christians judge the actions of the destructive rioters. But, the fact of the matter is, a heart of condemnation does nothing to promote living rightly. The Bible clearly states that there is a ‘kindness camp’ meant to deal with the issues of everyone’s heart. We should pray people receive God’s kindness.
Christian’s who live in ‘judgment camp’ often take this approach to dealing with sin: Realize how wrong it is, confess it, repent before God, promise to never do it again, and then believe they are forgiven. The problem is that action does nothing to solve the real problem: Man’s inner heart needs to be changed. Ask yourself, how many times have you decided to never sin again and then find yourself doing the same thing again? Do you treat yourself more harshly the next time? If you do that, it’s time to get out of the ‘judgment camp’ and into God’s kindness.
God’s kindness is what really makes us change. Once we recognize how wonderful, glorious, loving and caring he is, that kindness changes our inward motivation. Rather than deciding to live up to a standard, we start living by example. It’s the center of why Jesus came. He came because the rules and laws of the Old Testament did not work; people would recognize their sin, and then go right back and do it over and over again.
Christ is the kindness of God. Paul talks about these two ‘camps’ in Rom 2:3-4. When he speaks about ‘you, O man,’ he’s talking to you and me. Our natural, moral being wants to pass judgment on others. Then he says, ‘do not disregard the riches of his kindness.’ What he’s saying is that a personal encounter with Jesus Christ will change your inner-most being. Once you understand how wonderful he is, you’ll gladly want to give up things you know are wrong. God changes your heart’s motivation.
Rom 2:3 “So when you, O man, pass judgment on others, yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness (chrestotes), tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness (chrestotes) leads you to repentance?”
There’s nothing trite about God wanting us to understand he is kind: It is the center of what he is doing for all eternity. In Ephesians, God gives Paul an idea of why God is so kind: He wants to display the riches of his kindness to all ages. The riches are grace. Grace is the Greek word charis which means ‘that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech.’ It’s the fact that Jesus is so kind to us, forgiving us and loving us. God is proclaiming that fact through all eternity; through every age… and you are a part of his grand design!
Eph 2:4 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness (chrestotes) to us in Christ Jesus.”
There is one abiding principle behind God’s kindness: Jesus said in Luke 6:35 that “He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” The Greek word translated ungrateful is acharistos, it literally means ‘without grace,’ as it contains the root word charis which is negated by the prefix ‘a.’ That means that on any day, whether you are feeling full of grace or separated from grace, God is kind toward you. You can rid yourself of fear that God will show you his wrath, as long as you understand that he is kind toward you. Just like a garment, you’ll put on kindness and then you will wear it for others to see. You’ll bear the fruit of kindness. Listen for that still, small voice that says ‘do good to those who hate you,’ and act on it.
Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind (chrestos) to the ungrateful and wicked.”
We are warned that we should stay in God’s kindness, that God has a severe punishment to those who walk away from grace, who attempt to do things completely on their own. It’s much like reaping what you sow: As you give away kindness, more of God’s kindness returns. But, if you continue to give away judgment of others, the reaping will come. There’s a principle in the kingdom: Judgment begins with the family of God (1 Peter 4:17), which means that God looks to Christians first to see if they are living in his will. It’s the Christian’s responsibility to be kind.
Rom 11:21 “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either. 22 Take notice, therefore, of the kindness and severity of God: severity to those who fell, but kindness to you, if you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.”
So, ‘grow up to become a child,’ for the greatest in the kingdom is a child. Peter said to throw away the old parts of our nature, the anger, hypocrisy, our judgmental nature and become like little children, desiring pure spiritual milk, an analogy to the tenderness of a mother nursing a child. We do it because we’ve tasted the Lord is good, the Greek word chrestos, meaning kind. Jesus has a burden for you to carry: most English translations translate the burden as ‘easy,’ but, again, the Greek word is chrestos, meaning kind.
1 Pet 2:1 “Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (chrestos)” Matt 11:30 For My yoke is easy (chrestos) and My burden is light.”
In closing, let’s pray: “Lord, continue to teach me who you are. I lay down my own precepts, my own concepts of who you are, for I cannot even imagine the totality of your goodness, your kindness, they are that immense. As I wake, work, labor and rest, may I recognize new facets of your kindness towards me and my fellow mankind; may I reflect your kind nature to others, in Jesus name. Amen.”
Definitions are from InHisVerse Bible (IHV) - www.InHisVerse.com.
Copyright © 2019, 2020, Jim Olsen, Olsen's Apps LLC, All Rights Reserved
Bible Quotations From: The Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible, BSB (BereanBible.com). Copyright ©2016, 2019 by Bible Hub. Unless Otherwise Noted.