The Law of Kindness

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The Bible refers to a "law of kindness", which we need to obey. Are we obeying the law of kindness in our life? We need all need to be practicing this rule; this order from God.



Good afternoon, everyone. Nice to see you today on this nice warm day in here. I think the air conditioning isn’t quite working, although all during the week...it must be just all of you, because all during the week when the students are in here, our girls bring in blankets and they cover up with blankets and afghans. So it must be every Sabbath that God says, "Yeah, these people need a trial. Not only do they need a trial in the sermons–they also need a trial in the atmosphere, the heat, in the location." Anyway, it’s nice to see you this Sabbath. It feels fairly nice up here, actually, even though I’m a little bit higher and have some lights on me.

You know, I prayed about this sermon. I even asked my students to pray about what sermon I would give. Last night I wasn’t feeling too well; and I actually didn’t do a lot of preparation last night, so I got up early this morning. I had four or five ideas in mind and I prayed about which one I should give; and in studying and preparing, this is the one I came to. But it’s interesting...Mr. Fouch, when he started off with his message, I thought, "Oh, no! Where’s he going with that?" All right, let me give you my sermon, and you’ll see why. So God may want us all to hear about kindness today.

The virtuous woman is spoken of in what chapter? We all know where the virtuous woman is mentioned. We remember Proverbs 31, right? Proverbs 31. But there’s one characteristic of the virtuous woman I want to emphasize today. It’s Proverbs 31, verse 26, and it’s oftentimes one that perhaps we understand and recognize but perhaps we give little attention to. Proverbs 31 and verse 26. Let’s take a quick look and see what God says about this wonderful quality, this characteristic of the virtuous woman.

Prov:31:26 — She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.

Now, what I want to emphasize is the law of kindness. The word for "law" there is torah, the same word that’s used for "law" in the Bible. The torah of kindness. And the word for "kindness" is a word that’s generally used to mean "mercy." It’s translated over 240 times in the Old Testament as checed, and it means "mercy." But it also is translated "kindness," and it’s also translated "loving kindness."

Is the law of kindness in your tongue? Is the law of kindness in your manner? Is the law of kindness in your life? Because if God says it’s a law of kindness, then we need to be obeying that law. We need to be practicing that rule, that prescription, that instruction, that order from God. Are you? Am I?

So what is kindness? Let’s define what kindness is. "Kindness," according to the dictionary, means "sympathetic." A person who is kind is "sympathetic." He’s "gentle, friendly, tender-hearted, and generous." Those are the expressions, those are the definitions given. Kindness implies "the possession of a sympathetic or generous quality, either habitually or specifically, as applied to actions." So when we were talking about doing good to others, that’s kindness. And, in fact, in the New Testament, agathos, which is the word for "goodness," is also translated once as "kindness." We’ll also see that the way God is...first of all, I want to share with you some of the meanings of these words.

Checed in the Old Testament carried this translation, according to the Lexicon (Brown, Driver and Briggs, Hebrew Lexicon): "goodness, kindness, faithfulness." Now, it can also mean the opposite. It can also mean "a reproach or a shame." Used in that way not very often, but used more so as "goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and mercy."

Now, let me share with you what the New Testament word chrestotes means. It means "moral excellence," and it’s translated "gentleness, goodness, and kindness."

Another word is used that’s translated "brotherly kindness," and that is the word philadelphia. Brotherly kindness, not just brotherly love. And one other word that’s used that’s translated is philanthropia–like a philanthropist, a person who loves human beings–"a love for man, a love for individuals." It’s also used in that way.

So that’s all I’ll give you for the Greek. I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the Greek. I do want to show us, though, that kindness is a characteristic of God. Kindness is a godly characteristic that needs to be growing on our trees. We just came through the Day of Pentecost, Feast of Pentecost; and the word translated "gentleness,"–not "goodness"–but the word translated "gentleness" in the old King James is translated "kindness" in many other translations and comes from the word chrestotes, and means "kindness." So, one of the fruits that needs to be growing in our lives and needs to be bearing, coming out and blossoming in our lives is the fruit of kindness. We have to ask ourselves, "Am I a kind person?" Or perhaps we want to say, "What kind of a person are we?" But are we a kind person? Kindness. Is kindness demonstrated in your life? Is kindness demonstrated in how you speak? Is kindness demonstrated in how you conduct yourself? Is kindness expressed in your general overall manner of life?

Let’s take a look and see. Kindness is one of God’s major characteristics. Let’s look at Psalm 31, verse 21, to start off with some of the characteristics of God, to see the way our heavenly Father is and what He wants His children to become like. In Psalm 31 and verse 21, we read this:

Ps:31:21 — Blessed be the Lord, for He has shown me His marvelous kindness...there’s that word, "checed,"...His marvelous kindness in a strong city!

So God has marvelous kindness to share.

Joel 2 and verse 13. God has great kindness. Joel, chapter 2, and verse 13. Here Joel is coming back and trying to encourage those who were willing to repent, and he says:

Joel:2:13 — So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God...How is God, our Father? For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and repents Him of the evil.

God can be touched by our words, God can be touched by our attitude, and God will change His mind based on how we change our actions and attitudes.

Nehemiah 9 and verse 17. Let’s take a look at this particular quote.

Neh:9:17 — They refused to obey, (breaking into a thought), neither were they mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness...so your heavenly Father, our God, your God, my God, has great kindness. How about us? Do we have great kindness?

Psalm:17:7 is only one of many places where the term "loving kindness" is used.

Ps:17:7 — Show Your marvelous loving kindness, he says, O You who save by Your right hand them which put their trust in You from those who rise up against them.

I want to give you a definition from a young child’s mouth of loving kindness. A teacher asked the pupils to tell the meaning of "loving kindness." A little boy jumped up and said, "Well, if I was hungry and someone gave me a piece of bread, that would be kindness; but if they put a little jam on it, that would be loving kindness." So, out of the mouths of children! Loving kindness is going that extra measure. At least, that’s his definition of it.

In Ephesians 2, verse 7, in the New Testament, we see the kindness of God; and we see the kindness of Jesus Christ. In this case, the word chrestotes is the one that’s used for both of these texts that I’m giving to you.

Eph:2:7 — ...that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

So God has kindness to us; and He has expressed it by giving His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Savior, to be the one to take our place as our sacrifice.

In Titus 3 and verse 4, we see the kindness of Jesus Christ expressed.

Titus:3:4 — But after that the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared...God our Savior? Who was God our Savior? Well, Jesus Christ. But after that the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared...

So, again, God has kindness toward us. As we know, {kindness is} one of the very characteristics of the Holy Spirit, Galatians:5:22. I’ll read that from several different translations. New King James says:

Gal:5:22 (NKJV) — But the fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness...not gentleness–kindness.

The New American Standard Updated Version says this: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness...

The New International Version says this: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness...

So, a better translation for "gentleness" is "kindness"–though a person who is kind is generally going to be gentle–a better translation would be "kindness" in that case. So, one of the very fruits of the Holy Spirit is kindness. We are to produce that kindness in our lives as a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit.

So now let’s see specifically some of the places that kindness is used in scriptures so that we may get an idea of the type of kindness we should show. Dr. Fouch certainly gave you one aspect of how to do that in giving of yourself and time, and I can just plug his sermonette. Thank you for it. God must have had something in mind because I had other sermons I could have given that would have been easier for me, but I prepared this one really fresh this morning. And I feel God, maybe, wants us all to have that as a spirit of kindness and an attitude, to practice the law of kindness in our lives.

Genesis 40, verse 14. We’ll see Joseph. You request kindness. You should have kindness one toward another. In this case, Joseph was in prison. He was interpreting dreams, and he was interpreting the dreams for the butler so that the butler could be in better stead with the pharaoh. In Genesis 40 and verse 14, he said:

Gen:40:14 — But think on me when it is well with you, and please show kindness, show kindness. Genesis:40:14, show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.

So in Genesis:40:14, Joseph said, "Show me kindness. Extend kindness." We can extend kindness one to another.

Joshua 2, verse 12. We see in this case Rahab. Joshua, Judges, comes before...Joshua, chapter 2, and verse 12. Remember when Rahab, who was the harlot, had hidden the spies from Israel; and after she had hidden them and helped them, she had confessed she knew that their God is the God of heaven above and that everybody fears them. In verse 12 of Joshua 2, she says:

Josh:2:12 — "Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness..." Many times kindness is a reciprocal thing and your kindness can breed kindness in others. I’ll give you a quote on that in a moment, which is an excellent quote. But, anyway, "Now that I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true token...Save me. I know you’re going to come through the land. I’ve heard about you. You Israelites are feared. I know that they’re going to come through the land; and when they come through, promise me you’ll take care of my father’s house. Show me kindness as I have shown you kindness."

Naomi realized in the book of Ruth that the blessing of kindness is not just induced, does not come from us alone, that God can promote it and inspire it in others. In Ruth 2, verse 20, after Ruth, remember, had been going through the field looking for grain and Boaz’s servants were told, "Don’t take everything, drop the grain as you go along," and Naomi said:

Ruth:2:20 — Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "Blessed be he of the Lord (Boaz, in this case), who has not left off His kindness...or, God hasn’t left off His kindness) to the living and the dead!" And Naomi said to her, "This man is near of kin to us, one of our next kinsmen. Blessed be he of the Lord who has not left off his kindness."

So it was God’s inspiring this man, "Blessed be God who helped this man to show kindness to us." You find in I Samuel 15:6 that Saul was willing to show kindness to his friends. Kindness to friends is something that God expects of all of us; but He also expects kindness toward our enemies, too.

I Sam. 15:6 — Then Saul said to the Kenites, "Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt." So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

So, one good turn, you might say, deserved another. In Chapter 20, verses 14-15, we find something similar.

I Sam. 20:14-15 — "And you shall not only while I yet live show me the kindness of the Lord that I die not; but also you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever..." So Jonathan was making this promise...or asking for this..."no, not when the Lord has cut off the enemies of David, every one of the from the face of the earth."

So Jonathan said, "I’m your good friend. When you’re in charge, when you’re responsible–God has selected you–don’t forget me. Don’t forget to show kindness."

Later on, in I Samuel 9 (I won’t turn there, just mention it), Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, was shown special kindness by David. Also, returning kindness...II Samuel, chapter 10, verse 2:

II Sam. 10:2 — Then David said, "I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash," Why? "as his father showed kindness to me." So, "I’m going to return the kindness. I remember the kindness. His father was kind to me; I’m going to be kind to him." So, in a sense, kindness does breed kindness in others. So David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants concerning his father. And David's servants came into the land of the children of Ammon.

I’m going to read you a quote on returning kindness.

When Dwight L. Moody was in New York one time, he was helped considerably by a man named R. K. Remington. When Moody was leaving on the train, he grasped his friend by the hand and he said, "If you ever come to Chicago, call on me; and I will try to return your kindness." In reply, Mr. Remington said to Mr. Moody, "Don’t wait for me. Do it to the first man who comes along."

Don’t just be reciprocal in your kindness. If people have dealt kindly with you, deal kindly with others as well.

I want to share a couple of other quotes. You know of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, right? Do you know how it was originally written and why?

Who has not been thrilled by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. It is a master interpretation in sound of the unspeakable glory of the moonlit night. This beautiful piece of music was created because the composer wanted to give something of himself and his talent to a blind girl. This lady could not see the beauties of a moonlight night. Blind was she to the silver sheen on the trees and shrubs and grass. Blind was she to the silver covering the lake. Blind was she to the world of milky white in the sky. So the thoughtful and selfless Beethoven put his genius to work. He would tell her, not merely in words, but in sound, of the beauty that her eyes could not behold. As a result, the world has been enriched, and he gave the best of his talent in a selfless act of kindness.

So the Moonlight Sonata was written because of his kindness expressed to a blind lady.

One more quote I want to share with you is about General Lafayette, the Frenchman. He helped General Washington when the thirteen American colonies were fighting for their freedom.

After the war, Lafayette returned to France. In 1824, he visited America. An old soldier went up to him and said, "Do you remember me?" And Lafayette said, "No." He said, "Do you remember the frosts and snows of Valley Forge?" And Lafayette said, "I shall never forget them." "One bitterly cold night,"continued the old soldier, "when you were going the rounds, you came upon a sentry who was thinly clothed. He was slowly freezing to death, and you took his gun and you said, ‘Go to my hut. There you will find clothes, a blanket, and a fire. After warming yourself, bring the blanket to me. Meanwhile, I will keep guard for you.’ When the soldier returned to you, you cut the blanket in two pieces–one piece for you and the other piece you gave to the sentry." Tears ran down the cheeks of the old soldier as he said, "General, here’s that other half of the blanket. I am the sentry whom you saved."

So kindness, again, giving kindness, returning kindness, it does come back to you.

Let’s take a look at some instructions in the New Testament for us. Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 32, that God gives to us and encourages us and exhorts us to practice, to live, to have kindness in our lives. You can put on kindness, and we ought to; but we ought to put it on every day. We ought to wear it. It ought to become part of us. And, again, kindness does not mean weakness. Kindness does not mean you can’t deal with problems and situations. Kindness does not mean you don’t deal with tough love when tough love is necessary. Kindness does not mean that you are a wimp, but kindness does mean you have compassion and care and you think about the other person and you care enough about him to go beyond just thinking.

Eph:4:32 — And be you kind one to another, same root word, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.

That’s an exhortation. Look at Acts 28 and verse 2. Here’s that word, philanthropia. It is really interesting, when you think about the apostle Paul when they were shipwrecked on Melita, remember, when his encouragement to all the individuals on board when God was giving that ship a really tough time and they finally managed to pull it into the island of Malta or Melita, and...I’ve been there, right to that very spot, so they claim, but in Acts 28 and verse 1:

Acts:28:1 — And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. They probably had a name there, "Welcome to Melita," with so many population! I don’t think that, but they understood...the sailors probably had some sense of where they were. But anyway, verse 2 — And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness...no little kindness. The word there is "love for your fellow man." They showed us no little love or "unusual kindness," as another translation puts it... for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

So, again, our kindness cannot just be limited to the brethren. Although we are to do good chiefly to those of the household of God, we should not limit our kindness, our generosity, our care, our sympathy, our concern, just to the church, as we see here. These individuals didn’t just say, "We’ll take care of our own. Forget about these individuals."

Luke 6, verse 35, we see the characteristic of God, that even toward our enemies we need to be kind. There’s not an excuse to be awful toward our enemies. There’s not an excuse to carry a grudge or bear any ire or anger toward them.

Luke:6:35 — But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest...why? Because when you love them, when you care for them, when you show to them, for He is kind, He is kind, same root word, unto the unthankful and to the evil.

So God in His heaven above still exercises kindness even toward those who do Him dirty. God still exercises kindness toward them.

Colossians 3, verse 12, tells us to put it on. And we should put it on because it certainly is the characteristic, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and also a characteristic of the wonderful quality of love. Agape. Agape is "very kind." Kind. We’ll see that in a moment.

Col:3:12 — Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering...

Kindness: a care for others, a sympathy for others, a compassion for others, a feeling for others.

In I Corinthians 13:4 you find one of the characteristics of the great, wonderful quality of love is this: Love suffers long and is kind. So if we have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given to us, that love of God in our hearts will lead us to be kind. It’s interesting. Proverbs 19 and verse 22. There is a good aspect of being kind because kindness means you’ll have friends. Kindness means you’ll be someone that people like to be around. Notice what it says in Proverbs:19:22.

Prov:19:22 — This comes from the New King James Version. What is desired in a man is kindness.

Here’s the New American Standard Updated Version: What is desirable in a man is his kindness.

Here’s what the American Standard Version says: That which makes a man to be desired is his kindness.

The New American Standard says this: What is desirable in a man is his kindness.

And, then, the Living Bible puts it this way: Kindness in a man, mankind, human being, man, woman, whoever, kindness makes a man, or a person, attractive. Kindness makes a person attractive.

So being kind is good for you, as it comes back to you and to me.

II Peter 1 and verse 7 is the scripture that employs the brotherly kindness. And we’ll see Peter’s exhortation in II Peter, chapter 1, for us to add to our spiritual growth and character one of these great qualities. In fact, II Peter 1, verses 5-7, is really what I call God’s eternal life insurance plan for you and me. God’s eternal life insurance plan. People sell life insurance, and if I were a salesman, I’d sell this; but since I have the Bible and it’s God’s word and I didn’t come up with it, I can’t sell it. But I can give it to you. God says, "You want to be in this Kingdom? Do you want to know how you’ll never ever fall away? Add these characteristics into your life." Notice what one of them is, and it’s right next to "love." Brotherly kindness. He’s talking about what we should add, and in verse 7 he says:

II Pet. 1:7 — And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love.

Brotherly kindness is the philadelphia, which has to do with love of a brother; but here it’s translated "kindness to a brother." Do we have that in our lives?

I want to read to you three quick quotes, and then I’ll bring it to a conclusion. I know it’s warm in here. I’ll bring it to a conclusion with three aspects I’d like to give to you in the end.

Here’s one about the rule of kindness. Are you aware that Robert E. Lee, after he retired from military life, was named the president of what is now Washington and Lee University?

After confederate general Robert E. Lee retired from military life, he was named president of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Originally, it was named Washington Academy because of a $50,000 gift from George Washington. The name of the school was changed in 1871 in honor of Lee, who served as president from 1865 to 1870. While Lee was president of the university, a new student came into Lee’s office and asked for a copy of the school’s rules and regulations. Lee replied that the school had no printed rules. He said, "Our only rule is kindness."

"Our only rule is kindness." Can you imagine what a world would be like if it was truly kind?

Here’s another quote that tells you about a kind world.

Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote in a letter, "It is the history of our kindnesses that alone make the world tolerable. If it were not so, that for the effect of kind words, kind looks, kind letters, multiplying, spreading, making one happy through another and bringing forth benefits, some 30, 50, and a thousand fold, I should be tempted to think that our life is a practical jest in the worst possible spirit."

Without kindness in life, what would it be like. One man...that reminds me of another quote. One congressman used to walk down the streets of New York, and he’d have a whole handful of quarters, and he would just flip them every so often, because he said, "Somebody will come along and find one of those, and it will make their day."

An act of kindness. You think about it. When you find a penny, when you find a dime on the street, what does it do for your spirits? It lifts you up because it’s something... "Wow! Look what I found. It was out there in the middle of the street." And I see people smiling because they’ve done it before. Even pennies! Think of what kindness means to people when kindness if felt, when kindness is given, when kindness is received.

I want to read one more quote to you. It’s by John Wessley. He had this rule of life. It’s a good rule. It fits in with what Dr. Fouch had mentioned.

Do all the good you can by all the means you can in all the ways you can in all the places you can at all the times you can to all the people you can as long as ever you can.

Think about that. What is your motto when you get up every day? Is the law of kindness in your mouth? Is it in your manner? Is it in your life? Three things I’ll leave with you that we may practice the law of kindness:

1. May our words be kind. May we remember Proverbs:31:26, "The law of kindness is in her mouth."

2. In all of our actions toward others, may we be kind. And I think of Acts 28, that this barbarian people who showed Paul and those on that ship "no little kindness." What about you? Do you show others "no little kindness," which means "a lot of kindness," doesn’t it?

3. In our manner, our way of life, our approach, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is, what? Kindness. How is our heavenly Father kind? Great kindness, loving kindness. If our manner is that, then I submit to you that both our actions and our words will follow.

What an inspiring, enjoyable church we will be as we practice and live the law of kindness.

 

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