Sermon Study Guide: The Kindness Factor

This past Sunday we began the Sermon series “Home Improvement.” If you missed the service, you can find it here. One of the things we talked about was Kindness. Below, I will explore this a little more. We would love to hear your thoughts on kindness as well.

You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “I hate mean people.” It goes along with the same sentiment as those who are so inclusive they exclude people who are not inclusive. What we have here is the urge for us to “just get along,” but we don’t know what to do when people don’t. If we put the effort into being nice to people, why are they not nice back?

A large problem with modern Christianity is that we have fallen into the trap of prosperity. I don’t just mean with money, but with relationships, status, and self-value. We hear that Christ offers us a life of joy but we interpret that joy quite differently. We assume that if we do the teachings of Christ they will lead us to a life of respect from our peers. We seem to forget that they crucified Christ. We tend to think the goal of being kind to others is so that they will be kind to us.

The truth is different. The goal of our kindness is not so that they will be kind to us, but so that we will be like Christ. The joy is in the act of kindness itself. The transformation that God does in us is that the Holy Spirit moves us from using kindness to get something or make someone do something for us to simply being Kind for kindness sake.

Being kind will change your relationships with all those around you, even if they do not respond in kindness. Think about what N.T. Wright writes in his commentary “Paul for Everyone”:

“Kindness is one of the purest forms of imitation of God. How would it be if God were the kind of god who was always making snide or bitter remarks at us? What would worship and prayer be like if we thought God had been talking about us behind our backs, putting us down to others? How would we feel if we thought we couldn’t trust God to tell us the truth, if he was always losing his temper with us? Well: how do people feel about us if that’s what we’re like? Wouldn’t it be better in every way to be like God?”

Sometimes we look at what is asked of us in scripture and we think it too hard. We even think it’s impossible at times. “Great!” we say, “now I have to be kind to people even if they are not going to be kind to me?” We look at serving others as something that is foreign to our true selves, alien to the way our lives are destined to be. But what if it is not? What if we are made to serve and be kind to one another? I find it fascinating and I marvel at my own thick head when I look at the evidence screaming that the “self-serving” world is imploding, destroying itself, and yet I still resist being kind in all things.

What if our true self, the self we are destined to be is wrapped up in being Kind — in being Christ like? In true kindness there is no fear or anxiety. My worth is not valued by the response I get from my actions, but rather the value and actions that Christ places in me. What might my life look like if I were kind in all things?

We don’t have to wonder “what if.”  Ephesians 4: 30 says:

“And don’t disappoint God’s Holy Spirit -the Spirit who put God’s mark on you to identify you on the day of freedom.”  In other words, we are marked for freedom and life, let us not distort the image we are marked for but instead let us “be kind to one another, cherish tender feelings for each other, forgive one another, just as God forgave you in the king. So you should be imitators of God.

Christ not only calls us to a higher form of life, one free of malice, hurt, and manipulation, but he equips us to live a life of blessing. Through the power of his Holy Spirit, we can live a life that lifts others up and that encourages and unites others even through disagreements. Through Christ we can actually live a life of real humanity in which we provoke others to freedom and liberty. Simply said, through Christ we can be kind with not expectation of kindness in return and feel completely whole.

God’s desire is to help you out. We can’t do this without God. Dallas Willard said,
The next time you are tempted to do what you know to be wrong, do your best to do what is right and expect God to bail you out!”

Try that with kindness… give it a try and ask God to help you through it.

A Few Questions to Consider:

  1. Is there evidence out there that supports this view of life and kindness?
  2. What has been your experience with acting in kindness with no expectation in return?
  3. How has Christ been kind to you and how would you like to be kind to others in return?
  4. Think of one area in your life you could be kinder and practice it?
  5. How has someones kindness transformed you?
  6. How has your kindness transformed you?

Share with us some of your stories of Kindness.

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