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Anybody remember tho old song Frank Sinatra did called “Love and Marriage”?
In case you don’t, but would like to listen to it, here is a link, with some sweet little eye candy thrown in for good measure: clips of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman from the movie, “Indiscreet”.
And, if you’re not in the mood for listening, I’ll just refresh your memory on a portion of the lyrics:
“Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like the horse and carriage
Dad was told by mother
You can’t have one without the other!”
This song came to mind this morning, believe it or not, as I was thinking about the fruit of the Spirit.
Because I have gotten to this place in my study of the list from Galatians 5:22-23:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I have been thinking about kindness, and goodness, and the dreadfulness of my own shortcomings in possessing these qualities in my life. And just so I don’t add dishonesty to the list of my shortcomings, I want to be clear that the thoughts I am sharing today were triggered not, predominately, by my own brilliance and deep spirituality (insert rolling of the eyes here), but from a study I am participating in entitled “Living Beyond Yourself” that was written by Beth Moore. So, thoughts picked up from participating in this study will be talked about here, and if you want to read the really good stuff, you should go buy her book, and participate in this study yourself.
OK. Disclaimer over. Back to thinking about kindness and goodness.
Beth said that the word Paul uses in Greek for the word kindness is chrestotes which means a tender concern for others. It is the “genuine desire of the believer to treat others gently, just as the Lord treats him.”
I think that, at times, I display this fruit in my life, but would somebody tell me please, for crying out loud, how it can be that the people I live with are so often the ones who get the short end of the kindness stick from me? Here’s a little snapshot of my life, that will help you catch a glimpse of the walking, talking contradiction that is me. In this picture, I am sitting in the room with my kids, who are each working on their least favorite, most difficult subjects for their schoolwork. They are both frustrated, they are both irritated, and, frankly, their attitudes stink. I am seated in the same room with them, hoping that my physical presence will help them stay on task, and am attempting to work on my OWN Bible study on kindness. And before the morning is over, I am ready to KILL both of them for their stinky attitudes toward me, toward each other, and toward their work. Somehow, I feel, as I return once again (after my 877th interruption) to carry on with my Bible study on “kindness”, that I may have missed the point somewhere..
But enough about me.
Let’s talk about the kindness of God, who despite ALL OUR stinky attitudes, praise His name, does NOT treat us as our sins deserve! Let’s think about HIM for a moment, shall we?
Psalm 103:8-14 says:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
And that is the kindness of God, toward us: He DOESN’T treat us as our sins deserve. And if I am to display His character in my life, that is how I am to behave toward my children, and toward all those folks who irritate me no end.
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Jesus was kind. He was kind to brokenhearted Mary Magdalene, who stood weeping and wailing at his tomb, mourning the loss of the One who had healed her of being possessed by seven demons, grieving the Rabbi she had followed and Whose needs she had cared for. He was kind to the children who were brought to Him that He might lay his hands on them and bless them. He was kind to Thomas, who doubted His resurrection, making a special point to allow Thomas just what he needed to help him believe.
Kind to the brokenhearted one, kind to those who are insignificant by the world’s estimation, kind to the doubter: this is the character of Jesus. This is the character that I long to see displayed in my own life. But it’s beyond me. It’s simply beyond me. Which is the point, of course. That it takes the divine assistance of the indwelling Holy Spirit for His character to be reproduced in me.
So, let’s move on from the fruit of “kindness” to the fruit of “goodness”, the Greek word for which is “agathosune”. Apparently, it means “benevolent” and “active goodness”. So while “kindness” refers to a tender heart, goodness is a more active quality, that involves taking action for the good of others. And here is an aspect to goodness that really took me aback when I first read it. Beth said that goodness “does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good in others,” and that it may involve rebuke, or correction or even chastisement.
I actually see this on an everyday basis in my life, when people interact on internet forums. Sometimes, people are unaware of a trap that their way of thinking has allowed them to fall into, and they need, for their ultimate good, to receive rebuke, or correction, or a wake-up call. And this can be painful! On the homefront, if all I ever practiced with my kids was “kindness” without “goodness”, the chances are great that my kids would remain stuck in sloth and immaturity.
So….acting out of goodness, that is, for the longterm good of the other, may NOT be fun or even pleasant. But it does involve being fixed upon doing what is ultimately for the best of the other person. Beth goes on to say that at times we may be called upon to deliver a painful exhortation or a confrontational rebuke. Sometimes, there will be no gain for the other person, unless they experience some pain, as they realize the error in which they are trapped. But that’s where the fruit of the Spirit that is “kindness” comes into play: our words, that will ultimately bring about “goodness” and gain for the other, must be tempered by kindness, for it is the kindness of God that leads any of us to repentance.
And all that brings me full circle to my opening thought, (and I bet you were wondering what ANY of this had to do with that song!) kindness and goodness are a lot like the lyrics to that song, “Love and Marriage”. Just like with love and marriage, so it is with kindness and goodness: “You can’t have one without the other.”
Wednesday 16th of June 2010
Good job Susan. What a privilege to read how you practically apply the lessons to your life. :-) It encourages us all to remember, I'm just not reading words hear...I'm studying truth that can not only change my life, but make me look more like the One I serve. Love you!
Tuesday 15th of June 2010
Dear Susan;As we age... (or should I phrase it, "As you and I stay forever young"?) I find myself thinking that if you and I lived closer together, we would have been close friends. After all, we both love your husband and children... we've suffered in childhood, marriages, parenting, peri- menopause. Reading and writing are mutual pleasures. I'll never forget that it was you who introduced the Daltons to "Hank the Cowdog"! The list could go on... Of course the most powerful tie that connects us is that we both love Jesus and have continued to grow in Him for many years. (Eugene Peterson titled a book that best describes this for me: "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction").So though I rarely say it, THANKS for sharing your life & meditaions via blogs. I admire your wit, intellect, and faith! I love you!Fondly,Kim
Tuesday 15th of June 2010
It's good to have you back where you belong! (This is callmecordelia, BTW.)
Tuesday 15th of June 2010
I love it when you blog!
Tuesday 15th of June 2010
Good thoughts, Sooze. I think we also struggle with balancing these attributes as we think about God; his mercy and his holiness in perfect balance. It's easy to get fixated on one side or the other, but He is both completely merciful and completely holy. Our need for the Holy Spirit to produce his fruit in our lives becomes glaringly apparent when we realize we can't even get a clear picture of the goal!