Summary: Sermon Series for Advent number 5 of 9 on the fruits of the Spirit
3rd Sunday in Advent Service December 15, 2002
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Be Prepared for Christ’s Coming with Kindness
I. The Savior’s coming reveals God’s kindness to us
II. The Savior’s coming motivates our kindness toward others
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ;
A few years ago during this time of year the most popular movie at theaters was “Home Alone.” Most of the people who saw it seemed to rave about how good it was. When I finally got around to seeing It, I was somewhat disappointed. Since I do like slapstick comedy, parts of it were pretty funny. But the opening scenes of the movie I found disturbing. The family that the movie features was far from loving and kind to each other. Especially picked on and mistreated was the star of the movie, Kevin. His big brother appeared to take sadistic delight in tormenting and threatening him. His uncle called him names. His mother and father ignored him to a large degree or punished him unfairly when they finally did notice him. And Kevin was far from being completely innocent. He was a rather disrespectful brat. To a large degree, the movie showed a dysfunctional family that appeared not to like each other very much.
Some might say that Hollywood was supplying an accurate picture of reality. What went on with the family in “Home Alone” goes on with all too many American families. Fighting between spouses, between brothers and sisters, and between parents and children is commonplace with our next-door neighbors, and all too often it goes on within some of our own homes, as well. In all too many homes, words of kindness can rarely be heard; instead, the yelling and screaming of insults and arguments drowns them out.
If our homes are like that now, or if they have been, or if they will be, then we need to pay special attention to today’s fruit of the Spirit - "kindness." But even if our homes are peaceful and the atmosphere is loving, we still need to think about “kindness.” After all, we face many temptations not to be kind to others, and we forget too often about God’s kindness to us. The birth of our Savior can serve as a good reminder of God’s kindness to us and as a good motivator for our kindness to others. This Advent season let’s remember to BE PREPARED FOR CHRIST’S COMING WITH KINDNESS.
1. The Savior’s coming reveals God’s kindness to us.
Christmas gives us a good picture of God’s kindness. But before we examine his kindness, we must also be aware of his justice. Too many people want to think of God only as kind. His kindness for us should be emphasized, but not to the exclusion of his Justice.
If we thought of God only as kind, then we might be tempted to think that we can get away with anything, and he won’t do anything about it. This is wrong. God will do something about the sins we commit. God’s justice demands that every sin be punished. Our lack of faith, our swearing, our indifference to his Word, our disrespect of parents, our hatred, our covetousness, our gossip and lies—all our sins will be punished. In fact, they already have: they have been punished at the cross of Christ. All who believe in Jesus receive the benefit—forgiveness instead of punishment for our sins. Unbelievers, on the other hand, reject that forgiveness Christ won for them. So they will face the punishment of damnation on their own. Don’t be fooled. God is kind, but he is also just and will punish sin as he promised.
That demand for justice is why Jesus came to earth. Death and damnation hang over the head of all human beings from the time of Adam and Eve’s first sin until the last sin is committed before the world’s destruction on Judgment Day. Christmas took place to remove this punishment. God couldn’t and wouldn’t go back on his Word. He had stated that death—earthly and eternal—would be the result of sin. Christmas was his way of keeping his Word and, at the same time, showing kindness. The plan was for the Child born in the manger at Bethlehem to be punished for the sin of the world. He would face the punishment of hell so that people could escape this fate.
Again, let me emphasize: God’s kindness doesn’t mean that he simply overlooked the sin of the world. Just the opposite is the case. In perfect justice and in perfect kindness God dealt with our sins as only he could—at the cross of his Son. Out of kindness now God forgives all who trust that the Child in the manger is their Savior who gave his life for their sin. Unbelievers, on the other hand, God will justly send to hell. This danger makes it necessary for us to remember both God’s kindness and his justice. As Paul said when writing to the Romans, “Consider . . . the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:22). God’s kindness extends to the ungrateful and wicked as he gives them time to change, but his kindness, as we view it, has limits—limits which are crossed through continuing unbelief. Then we see his Justice take over.