Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching. 

  1. What was one thing that God was showing you through this message?   

  1. How should we understand kindness? Specifically, how is this different from (or more than) just being nice? 

  1. What is the connection between kindness and forgiveness? Who is in your life right now that God wants you to forgive?  

  1. What is one action step that you can take in light of Sunday’s message and our conversation today? 


Sermon Transcript

I wonder how many of you, as parents or grandparents or aunts or uncles, maybe have said this phrase to a child at some point. You be nice. Sound familiar to anybody? I'm sure that that's been the case. I don't know when you may have done that. Maybe you were dropping your child off at a friend's house and it was this first run and you knew your child was going to meet their parents of his friend and all of that and right before you shove them out of the car you said to them, "Hey, you be nice." Or maybe you saw some siblings that were having it out and maybe one sibling was saying some hurtful words to another sibling and that was all going on and you were like, "Hey, hey, hey, hey. You be nice." You probably have said that at some point to some kid or you've also said it to an adult in your life. Let's be honest. That's probably happened as well. You be nice.

I'm imagining that we have both said that and it has been said to us at some point in our life. But I want to drop something on you today and it's this. God has never told us to be nice. The word nice doesn't appear in the Bible anywhere, not in any translation. It's something that we would think maybe God would say to us all because we say it so commonly to the people around us, but nowhere in the testimony of scripture do we really have God saying, be nice in those specific ways. Listen carefully, I'm not against nice. I don't think God's against nice. I don't want you hearing me saying that we're against nice. In fact, in the world that we live in and in the sour times that we're living in, I'm for nice. I think it's a good thing. But what I'm suggesting to you is that God has actually given us something that's richer, that's better, that's more full than just nice. And he teaches us that in what we're looking at in Galatians five and we'll be there in just a moment.

As many of you know, what we've been doing over the last number of months is we've been studying, or last number of weeks I should say, we've been studying, in Galatians chapter five, talking about sweet fruit for sour times. And what we've been looking at is how Paul talks about the difference between what it means to access the life of the Spirit and to walk in the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are obvious and they are chronicled in Galatians chapter five. And then he says, the fruit of the Spirit should also be obvious. And by fruit, listen, that's singular. The fruit is singular and it's not the fruit of my life or your life, it's the fruit of the Spirit. It's the work of the Spirit giving us access to the very life of God such that we can now have that formed within us so that the life of God can live through us. And in doing that, we've looked at a variety of different things, that the fruit of the Spirit, what the Spirit will produce, the harvest of the Spirit in our lives, will produce love and joy and peace and forbearance or patience.

But Paul actually, and what we're getting to today in this study, is he's going to get to something that is actually consumes the idea of nice, but is much bigger than the idea of nice. We can see in Galatians chapter five, verse 22, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance. Great message from Pastor Jonathan last week on that. And kindness. Kindness. Kindness is not exactly the same thing as we're talking about when we talk about nice. It's certainly a part of that idea, but kindness is bigger and it's richer and it's more thorough and it's deeply theological. And we're going to see that in just a few moments. The word that Paul chose right here in the Greek language is the word, chrestotes, not that you cared exactly on the pronunciation or the word, but it's important for us to understand because generally speaking, that word is translated, kindness.

It can also, in the Greek language, be translated in a couple of different ways, but all of those ways are in the family of the idea of kindness. In other words, it's a word that actually means a lot more than what we just expressed in one word. The root word of chrestotes, which is chrestos, actually gives us the idea of a particular disposition. A disposition of sweetness that actually leads to an action. In fact, when we take that root word and we look at in the New Testament itself, we actually find Jesus using that word, chrestos, when he made a familiar statement that many of us may already know and he said this in Matthew 11. "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." That word, easy, is the root word there, it's chrestos. In other words, what Jesus is saying is that when you come and follow me, not that life will be easy, but what you'll find is there's a sweetness, that there's a beauty, that this yoke is not going to feel harsh and heavy to you. It's not going to be bound, and in this context, it's not going to be bound with so many rules and regulations that are impossible for you to manage, but instead, you're coming to me and you're going to find life and you're going to realize that I'm walking along side of you.

This is the idea of, you're going to find this yoke easy or chrestos. Now, when the ancient Greeks used this term, chrestos, they actually used it to describe wine. I have no real understanding of wine, I just know people sniff it and it's weird. Some of you swirl. Nobody does that with coffee, nobody does it with Coke. Like with Coca-Cola. Your minds are in the gutter, people. Stop it. Pepsi, I should have used Pepsi. I like Coke better, but I should have used Pepsi. Coca-Cola is what I like better. I am in a ditch right now. Somebody bail me. That guy on the side with the little shepherd's crook is going to be ... he's going to carry me off. I don't know much about the idea of wine, I know there's reds, and there's whites, and apparently they pair with food or whatever. I don't know. But what they would say when they would describe a wine, is they would talk about it in their language as either being really bitter, which apparently, I guess, wine could be, or chrestos, which would be mellow, smooth. That's how they would use that term.

And that's the root word of the term that Paul actually employs here when he says, "The fruit of the Spirit is kindness." Sometimes that word is actually paired together where you have both the disposition of sweetness and the action and sometimes that root word, chrestos or chrestotes, can be translated loving kindness, where it has both the disposition and the action embodied in one singular term. That makes sense to us. The idea of loving kindness makes sense to us because when we read Paul in a different portion of scripture, in 1st Corinthians 13, he actually talks about love and he says, love is kind. That's the phrase that he uses. Love is kind. In other words, there is this link between kindness and love that's sometimes hard for us to pull apart in our heads but is actually connected.

Now, in the world that we live in, in the culture that we live in, the word kindness is reasonably popular. It's in use, it's in vogue in the culture that we live in and for good reason. I don't know if you knew this, but there's a National Random Acts of Kindness day. I think there's a national day for everything. National Wear Ugly Sweater day. National Dress Your Dog Up in an Ugly Sweater Day. There's just everything. But there's a National Random Acts of Kindness Day, and of course that phrase, random acts of kindness, which, if they are random, that's means they are unintentional, which they are actually intentional so they are intentionally random, which is weird, but nonetheless, this idea of random acts of kindness people talk about all the time. I tried to track it down. I think it was from the early 80s in Sasarita, California is where that kind of originated and then became a thing nationally, but we also have kindness being used in pithy statements and sayings all over the place.

On social media, you'll see these posts, these inspirational statements about kindness, they are all over the place. You'll see them on printed tee shirts all the time. Statements about kindness. And probably no one has brought the phrase, be kind to everyone into popular culture as much as Ellen DeGeneres has because she ends everyone of her shows by saying, be kind to everyone. Sometimes I wonder, with all of the people and statements around kindness, I wonder at times, if people are just simply using the kind instead of using the word nice. That they are using it as a synonym, that they are just basically saying, this is what this is and this is what this means. Now, part of why I think that is because someone like Ellen, for instance, actually in the first show of this season, talked about why she uses that phrase. She talked about how difficult it is to be the be kind to everybody lady and how that's tough and she's talking about some issues they've had in their workplace or whatever.

And then she said this. She said, why I started using this phrase, be kind to everyone, was because I saw a young man who got bullied to the point of taking his own life and I thought that the world needed more kindness. Now listen, I agree with her. In the world that we live in, we need more kindness, for sure. But I'm wondering if she was just equating kindness and niceness, and by the way, there's an overlap there for sure. But I'm wondering if her idea was, we need to not be mean. I also want to affirm, I 100% agree with that. Not being mean, good way to live. Being mean, bad way to live. Particularly in the sour world that we live in, can I get an amen that we need less meanness in the world that we presently live in? For sure, no doubt. But can happen is this, is we can take the idea of kindness and reduce it down all the way to simply meaning this. Avoid being mean. And that's not what we're talking about when we talk about the word, kindness.

Because what Paul says is that kindness is actually a fruit of the Spirit. In other words, this is a part of the life of God that we can access and here's something that I know about God. God does not just only avoid being mean. God is actively kind. That's important for us to understand. When we understand the difference between kindness and niceness, even though they do kind of come together at some points. Now, when God was actually revealing himself in the Old Testament, it's important for us to understand how God revealed himself. What did God say about himself? This held really great sway with those who were Jewish because they realized when God spoke and he said something about himself, they better pay really close attention to that because God has said this.

This isn't like your neighbor going, "I think this about God" or somebody else going, "I think this about God." This is God going, "This is me and I'm going to tell you something about myself." And listen, there's a few times that he does that in the Old Testament specific to this idea of kindness. And the first place that I want to point out is in Jeremiah chapter nine. This is what the Lord says, this is why we know God said it, here's why, because this is what the Lord says. Everybody with me? That's biblical scholarship right there. This is what the Lord says, "Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts, boast about this, that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in this, I delight.", declares the Lord.

This idea, when he's talking about exercising kindness, listen carefully, it's a Hebrew word that you would say, in English, you would call it chesed. Now chesed in the Hebrew language, and I don't want you to think this is a Greek and a Hebrew class that you're in, it's not, but the reason this is important is because that word, chesed, is used all over the Old Testament and it has a really broad base of meaning. Many times it's translated kindness, other times it's translated mercy. Sometimes it's translated love and other times it's translated goodness. It's one of those words that carries with it a whole lot. Basically, it's kind of the Hebrew version, chesed, of what Paul is saying when he says chrestotes and he talks about kindness and the meanings of kindness.

When God reveals himself as one who exercises this, understand that chesed is not an abstract idea, it's not just an abstract emotion. I feel kindness. No, no, no. He exercises kindness. In other words, it's not just an abstract emotion, it's actually, listen to this, tangible action on behalf of someone else. This is what we're talking about when we're talk about the idea of chesed. In another self-revelation in Exodus chapter 34, that word chesed is used. It says, "God passed in front of Moses proclaiming the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in chesed." Which is actually translated here, love. And he's abounding as well in faithfulness.

The Psalmist, when he was writing about this idea of chesed, was talking about how we should never forget that from God. We should never forget all of his kindness to us. In Psalm 106 he says, "When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles. They did not remember your many kindnesses and they rebelled by the sea.", the Red Sea. So God is saying to us through the Psalmist that we should not forget the kindness of God because God's expectation is this. Listen to this. That his people remember his kindness and as a result are kind to others. In fact, that's what Micah is teaching us while God is speaking through and with Micah is teaching us in Micah chapter six. He is showing you, immortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love chesed. Translated here, mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

You see, the idea here is that God's expectation is that we will be a people who will show kindness, people who will show mercy, people who will show goodness, people who will show sweetness because we recognize the kindness of God to us. When you read in the Old Testament these statements, you can also be reminded of this truth by some of the stories that the Old Testament gives us. In fact, if I were telling two stories, and I am telling two stories here, I could tell one that's negative and one that's positive about kindness and the way that God helps us to experience that kindness. The one that would be a negative example would be this. It's actually both a positive and a negative example at the same time. It was during a time where it was a really dark time in the nation of Judah. You can read about it in 2nd Chronicles chapter 22, 23, and 24, if you wanted to go back and look. But this would have been when it would be a really dark time during that time.

A king had just died. His name was King Jehoram and he was dead. Now his son, Ahaziah, had taken over and he took over for one year before he was killed. I know, it sounds like a soap opera. Then Ahaziah's mom, whose name was Athaliah, she kills the whole line of people that would be in line to take the throne. She was pagan basically and she was also nuts and so she ended up killing everybody, but she missed out on one, Joash. Joash was just a baby and here's what happened. King Jehoram's daughter and her husband, his name was Jehoiada. I know I'm giving you tons of names here, but just stay with me. His name was Jehoiada and he was a priest. He and his wife took Joash and they hid him in the temple for seven years. That's impressive, just by itself. Hid him in the temple for seven years. After seven years everybody thought Queen Athaliah, who is just pagan and mean, and she's running everything. And finally, Jehoiada, the priest, flexes and he's like, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have an heir to the throne right here. Nobody knew it, but we've had him since he was seven. "Everybody was like, "What."

And then they killed the queen and made Joash the king. That's right. Seven years old and now the king of Judah. Welcome to this time frame. Jehoiada, the priest, walked with Joash as he grew up, taught him the ways of the Lord, taught him to reverence the Lord, the God of Israel. Walked with him during that time. Joash stayed away from the pagan side and he began to do things in accordance with how God would be pleased and then Jehoiada the priest, died. Not long after that, Joash started doing his own thing. He started entertaining some of the same pagan stuff that Athaliah had been doing and now he was not really walking with God, rejecting the ways of God. It was really, really not good. God raised up a prophet. And do you know where this prophet came from? Jehoiada. It was the son of Jehoiada and his name was Zachariah. Zachariah comes to Joash and warns him and says, "This is not the direction you're supposed to be going. I'm warning you about this."

Listen to this. Do you know what Joash did? When he had been shown such kindness by Zachariah's dad, Jehoiada, who basically saved his life, raised him, taught him the ways of the Lord, installed him as the king, did all of those things. And do you know what Joash's response to Zachariah was? We're going to kill you. Listen to what it says in 2nd Chronicles chapter 24. "They plotted against him and by order of the King, they stoned Zachariah to death in the courtyard of the Lord's temple." King Joash did not remember the kindness Zachariah's father, Jehoiada, had shown him, but killed his son who said as he lay dying, "May the Lord see this and call you to account." It's interesting that God highlighted the idea that kindness was shown to Joash and Joash did not show kindness because God's expectation is that we recognize his kindness to us and as a result, we show kindness. Zachariah, he's being killed, says, I'm praying that the Lord holds you to account in this regard. By the way, his prayer was answered and God did hold Joash to account.

But there's also a positive story in the Old Testament about this idea of kindness and it comes around King David. As you remember, Saul was the first king of Israel and when Saul was king he got real jealous of David. David befriended Saul's son, Jonathan. Do you remember that? Jonathan and David were more than just being friends, they were like brothers. They had a brotherly connection, loved one another. Eventually Saul got really jealous of David because of David doing what he did in war and how David was anointed by God. Saul was treacherous toward David, actually tried to kill him, he was so jealous. But David still showed Saul honor. Eventually Saul died, Jonathan died. David became the king and even though there was a war going on between the houses of Saul and the houses of David, that eventually David became king over both Israel and Judah. And there he was leading now the people of God in the promised land of God into a time of success and prosperity and sometimes peace. It would come a little bit later.

So what David did when he found himself in that position is, he realized the kindness of God through his relationship and friendship and really, brotherhood, with Jonathan. Listen to what King David did. In 2nd Samuel chapter nine it says, David asked, "Is there anyone still left of the House of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" Now, there was a servant of Saul's household named Ziba and they summoned him to appear before David. The king said to him, "Are you Ziba?" "At your service.", he said. The king asked, "Is there no one still alive from the House of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?" Ziba answered the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan, but he's lame in both feet." Now, what's interesting about this is that Jonathan's son, his name was Mephibosheth, and Mephibosheth was from a place called Lo-debar. Now, if you're thinking Lo-debar does not sound like a place that I would want to live in, you're exactly right. That's a good description of the place that he was coming from. Lo-debar, not a place that you want to grow up.

Mephibosheth actually got dropped in the all the hub-bub that happened. The nurse that was caring for him dropped him, he was lame in both his feet. He couldn't get anywhere on his own. He had to be taken to the places that he went. And when David asked, is there anyone from Saul's house that I can show kindness to for Jonathan's sake, he was told Jonathan has a son, but he's lame in both his feet. You know what David said? Bring him. I invite him here. He comes to the palace and David says, I'm going to actually restore some things and give you some things that you wouldn't get in Lo-debar and I'm going to give these to you for Jonathan's sake because I love him. I'm going to give these to you for Jonathan's sake and you're going to sit at my table all the days of your life. That's what you're going to do.

Listen to this. Mephibosheth could have never come to the king unless he came by the king's invitation and he could have never gotten there except that people brought him there. Mephibosheth didn't have any business being where he was but what the king did is he showed great kindness for Jonathan's sake to Mephibosheth. You know what's beautiful about this story? Not only the truth about the kindness that is revealed in this, but it's also a foreshadowing of what we would learn in the New Testament about God's kindness to us. Because every one of us who is broken in sin have been spiritually living in Lo-debar and we have been lame because of our sin. And not one of us would ever have the privilege of coming into the presence of the king unless the king invited us because or for the sake of the son, Jesus. And as a result of doing that, we get to sit at the king's table even though we are lame in both of our feet and we are from the country of Lo-debar. We get to sit at the king's table because of God's kindness to us.

This is the picture of the gospel that this Old Testament story actually unfolds for us. And it introduces to us the New Testament themes about how God is actually kind. In fact, Paul, when he talks about the fruit of the spirit is kindness, also says in a couple of other places some very pointed things about what God's kindness entails. Listen to what he said in Titus chapter three. At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God, our savior, appeared he saved us. Not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. Did you hear the phrase that Paul used there? When God, our savior, appeared, he saved us. He was teaching us about what Jesus had done. We used to be this kind of person, but in God's kindness, God, our savior, appeared and he saved us.

And then listen to Paul saying it very explicitly in Ephesians two. God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus in order that in the coming ages, he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed, here it is, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. I'm going to give you a couple of things to write down, but here's a statement that you want to write down because it is perfectly biblical, it is coming right out of the text of the New Testament and it's this. Jesus is God's kindness to us. Jesus is God's kindness to us. Why do I say that? Because listen carefully, the Bible doesn't tell us that Jesus is God's niceness to us, but that he is God's kindness to us. In other words, this isn't just about God avoiding being mean, this is about God actively being kind to those that are not deserving of his kindness.

Jesus is the expression of the powerful, active, tangible love and mercy of God and God's willingness to act on our behalf when we could not act on our own. And the disposition of God in this regard is sweetness to us. Paul wrote about this as well in Romans chapter one, two, and three, but I want to make sure you understand something before we look at what he wrote about God's kindness. Sometimes we can't process God's kindness until we understand we're deserving of God's judgment. Listen carefully to what I'm saying. Romans chapter one, Romans chapter two, Romans chapter three. What they teach us that Paul was writing is that God is holy and God is just and every human being has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and every human being will be accountable to a holy God for their sin. That God is calling us to account for our sin. Now, let me pause you there for just a second.

Some of you are watching online, listening on the radio. You're here live, you're at one of our other campuses, wherever you might be, watching us on television and you're thinking to yourself, wait a minute. What's all this talk about sin. I thought we were talking about kindness and now you're using this phrase, sin. I don't even like that statement, Jerry. And by the way, did you just a moment ago have the audacity to call me a sinner? How dare you call me a sinner? First of all, it's not me. The Bible says in Romans very clearly, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Everybody, everywhere, period, end of story. The Bible says you've sinned, I've sinned. We've all sinned. We all come short of the glory of God.

But when somebody says to me, how dare you imply that I am a sinner, my response is this. How dare you imply that you're not. Because here's what your implication is saying, that you don't need saving. That you don't need a savior. I'm not a sinner, I've never. I don't think there's anybody that's sane that says that they've never sinned. That's crazy thinking. Every single one of us, by our nature and by our actions have proven, usually daily, that we have sinned and missed the mark. You see, what we have to recognize is that when Paul teaches in Romans one, two, and three that all have sinned and all come short of the glory of God and that God is going to deal with sin because he's holy, that leaves us in a really bad predicament because we, who are sinners, could never rescue ourself, we could never save ourself and God is going to because he is holy. He is going to deal with his just wrath against sin. That is going to happen because God will not overlook it, God will not sweep it under a rug. This is what God's nature is.

When you understand that, you begin to understand God's kindness because what God has done for us in Christ is he has made a way now through the son of God who was perfect, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life in every way, in word, in thought, in deed, in action, who went to a cross to satisfy by his own desire, by the way. He did with his volition, Jesus. He wasn't forced to, he didn't have his arm pinned behind his back. He went to a cross to die in your place and my place to satisfy the just wrath of God for sin, past, present, and future. And that for all of us who have sinned, who instead turn from our sin and put our faith in what Jesus has done, by making a way of overcoming sin through his sacrificial death and his subsequent resurrection, we now can be reconciled to the king. We now can be invited by the king to sit at the table even though we're from Lo-debar. Even though we come with lame feet spiritually, we get invited to sit at the king's table forever. This is the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ and until we recognize the really bad news, until we recognize the really, really bad news, it's hard for us to understand the kindness of God. He's kind to us.

When Paul uses this idea of the fruit of the spirit, talking about it as kindness, we understand that kindness is a quality of the very life of God that we can access. What would this look like for us? What would it look like? For one, in Romans when Paul sets up that story about how we're all accountable before God, that God is holy, that God's going to deal with sin, listen to what he puts in there in Romans chapter two, verse four. Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance, and patience? Not realizing, listen to this, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance. God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance. Maybe if you want to jot down this statement you can. For those of you who have photographic memory, you just keep up. It was a joke. God's kindness is a pathway to repentance. Here's why. Because it puts us face to face with Jesus. God's kindness is a pathway to repentance because it puts us face to face with Jesus.

Here's what happens. Listen. At the cross, what we see is we see the brutal reality of sin's consequence. We see Jesus, the one who had no sin bearing upon himself the wrath of God, feeling the distance in relationship and fellowship with the Father, taking our sin upon himself and we see it, we see the brutality of sin's consequence at the cross. But simultaneously, we also see the extraordinary kindness of God to us because Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, willingly went to this cross so that he might be able to give us the opportunity by faith in him to be reconciled to the Father and to live in this relationship of love. It's extraordinary on both ends. So when Paul says the fruit of the spirit is kindness, and this kindness is a quality of the life of God that we can access, what would it look like for that kindness to shine through us?

Would it be that we buy a coffee for the car behind us in the drive through line? would it be that we help our neighbor when it snows with shoveling off their driveway and maybe their sidewalk because maybe they are struggling with some health issues or whatever. Would it mean that during the holiday time that we come around some families that maybe have greater need during that time and help to meet those needs with resources and with love and with care? Yes to all of those, of course. It wasn't a trick question. Of course all of those things demonstrate kindness, but do you know that Paul does something in the New Testament where he illustrates this really, really clearly and I don't want you to miss it. He connects, listen, he connects very directly the idea of kindness, God's kindness, to something very specific. It's not the only thing were kindness can be seen, but it's something very specific and I don't want you to miss it.

Two times, we'll see it in Ephesians and we'll see it in Colossians when Paul writes these letters. Listen to what he says in Ephesians four. Be kind. Remember, Ellen wasn't the first to this. Be kind and compassionate to one another. Doing what? Forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. Now listen to what he's saying here. Be kind. And how is that going to be fleshed out? By forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. This is an expression of kindness. Listen to what Paul says in Colossians. Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone, forgive as the Lord forgave you. Do you see the parallel themes in both of those passages?

Paul is actually drawing for us a line between kindness and forgiveness. Let me say this way. Forgiveness clearly shows God's kindness because it reveals the heart of God. Forgiveness clearly shows God's kindness because it reveals the heart of God. Let me walk it out this way. If Jesus is God's kindness to us, and he is, and Jesus shows us the forgiving heart of the Father, and he does, then the life that the spirit is sharing with us the fruit of the spirit that he is sharing with us is a life of kindness that leads to forgiveness. It's a kindness that leads to forgiveness. Here's what I would suggest to you, something that I want you not to miss. Unforgiveness, listen to this, unforgiveness is in large measure a kindness problem. Unforgiveness is in large measure, a kindness problem. Why do I say that? Here's why. Because the reason that you are unable to forgive that person is because you have not properly understood God's kindness to you. And because you don't understand God's kindness to you, you therefore don't in turn share that kindness through forgiveness with others. Unforgiveness is in large part a kindness problem. How do we end up fleshing this idea of kindness out?

If this is what Paul has said, that the fruit of the spirit is kindness, how do we do that? Let me suggest maybe a few things. One, I've already told you that the only way that we're going to access the life of the spirit is to be in the presence of God, that you're going to have to, day in, day out, submerge yourself in God's presence by his word as you saturate your mind and your heart with his word because then God will begin to work out the life of himself in and through you. If you expect just to check in to church every single week or maybe once or twice a month, which is normal for most, if you think just checking in, listening to something that inspires you and just walking with your life and doing everything else ... A, if you think you're doing God a favor, you're not. And B, if you think you're growing Christ-like in you, you're not because you simply cannot depend, listen, you cannot depend on someone else to feed you forever. Babies must grow up. And so maturity demands that we will be able to start feeding ourselves, and as we do, God is going to grow his life in us such that people will see the reality of his life in us.

Let me ask you how you can show this to the world that we live in, very specifically. Maybe you need to ask the Lord who it is that you need to forgive, because in doing so you will demonstrate the kindness of the heart of God. Maybe it's that friend on Facebook that is just over the top about everything. They know everything about everything. They've got an opinion on everything and if your opinion is not like their opinion, then you're just stupid. And so it's just that all the time. And now you've blocked them, but you haven't blocked them from your brain, you've just blocked them from your social media feed and you're still angry with them because maybe they said something that was hurtful to you. Maybe they offended you and they hurt you and you just can't seem to let it go. Maybe what you need to do is understand the kindness of God to you in Christ Jesus so that you might be able to forgive.

Maybe you need to forgive someone that's even in your life anymore. Maybe you're thinking to yourself, listen, I just had to cut myself from them and all that stuff, and I understand that may have had to happen, but out of sight doesn't necessarily mean out of mind. Maybe they still hung on in here for some reason and you need to be able to forgive them. Maybe you need to forgive someone that's not even living because they hurt you, you never got to settle that issue, but you can settle it in your heart because you understand the kindness of God to you in Christ and now you can exercise that kindness toward others through forgiveness. But there's also another way that you can show God's kindness. Maybe it's not about your offer of forgiveness, maybe it's about your repentance.

In other words, maybe you are the friend on Facebook. I love you. And maybe your recognition of not showing the kindness of God is your opportunity to be able to repent from that and show the kindness of God. I realize that God's been so kind to me and I haven't shown that kindness to others so I repent of that. That's a way to show the heart of God. Maybe you haven't considered God's kindness to you in such deep ways and as a result, you have turned some of that unkindness that ought not be there toward relationships in your world. Maybe a spouse, maybe a child, or a grandchild, maybe a friend or a coworker or a classmate or a teammate and you've turned that in a direction that it ought not to have gone. Maybe it's a whole group of people, no matter what their moniker is, that you just can't seem to get over and if they have that label, then there is no way that you can forgive them. There's no way anybody should ever be able to forgive them. There's no way. I hate those people.

While we were enemies, Christ died for us. We need to better understand God's heart, God's kindness to us so that we in turn can forgive or repent when we need to. Maybe God will reveal how you can reveal his heart of kindness through either offering of forgiveness or repentance or maybe just through an act of generosity or service. What that will do is reveal the heart of God. And can I say this? What the world needs is a revelation of the heart of God. There's enough bitterness and angst and anger, resentment, and hate and vitriol and violence for a lifetime, for a million lifetimes. We need people to see in us the heart of God. And the fruit of the spirit is kindness. Let's bow our heads together.

We're going in just a moment, if you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, then I encourage you, whether you're in this room or you're listening on the radio or you're watching online, watching on television, wherever it may be, that God has been so gracious to you that even while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us. That God desires for you to be reconciled to him and the only way that can happen is through Jesus Christ and faith in him. It cannot happen another way. You can't earn your way to God. You can't good your way to God. This is the only way. So if that's your need, then maybe in your heart you'll just confess that you know that you cannot save yourself and that with all the faith that you have, that you put your trust in what Jesus has done, dying for your sin and rising from the grave, and that it is only by him that you can be saved, so with all the faith that you have, you entrust your life to him. If you mean that with all of your heart, then I want you to listen in just a moment when Pastor Jonathan gives you a way to be able to follow up on that decision that we can help you with.

Father, you've said much to us this day and I pray that we would have a spirit to receive what you have said to us. I pray you be magnified and that your heart would be put on display through our lives and that we live as people who walk filled with your spirit so that people can see love and joy and peace, patience and kindness particularly in the sour world that we live in. Would you help us to demonstrate your heart by the activity of the spirit in us and give us tangible ways that we can do that even this week so that the world may see your heart. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.

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