Summary: The Holy Spirit produces kindness and goodness in us. Does our culture value these?
Kindness and Goodness: Fruits of the Spirit
Gal 5:16-26 November 21, 2004
Putting something to music is a great way to learn, and so it probably comes as no surprise that the list of fruits of the Spirit, which we read about in Gal 5, have been put to music so that people can learn them. Now, don’t worry, I promise not to sing… However, I did hear from a parent last Sunday whose daughter had been singing the “fruit of the Spirit” song at home. She sang, “love, joy, peace, patience, kind of goodness”…
Let’s read Gal 5:16-26.
Of course, it should be “kindness, goodness.” Those are the two we are going to look at this morning – kind of a fruit salad, maybe a fruit combo.
But before diving into those two, let’s review. Over the past month, we have looked at the character quality of self-control, which the Holy Spirit produces in us by revealing the true nature and cost of sin. We looked at gentleness, which is the idea of great power under control (like a horse), and which the Holy Spirit produces in us by enabling us to see one another the way God sees us, with compassion and tenderness and forgiveness. Last week we talked about faithfulness, which the Holy Spirit produces within us in, 1. our relationships (by growing our love for one another), and 2. in our tasks (by keeping us focused on the vision and purpose to which we committed).
I hope you noticed through that review the emphasis again is that these character qualities are God’s work in us – they are what the Holy Spirit produces as we live by the Spirit and walk with the Spirit. They are not about our effort, but about what God is doing in us. I believe these are the measures of spiritual maturity, and when we are evaluating ourselves and thinking about our spiritual lives, these should be the things we are considering. These are the character qualities which God is trying to build into us in deeper measure.
Let’s talk about kindness first, and as in previous weeks, let me ask you this: is kindness something that our culture values? We know it is something that God produces in us as we grow spiritually, but is it something our society values? In some ways, no:
Today is Grey Cup Sunday, the championship game of our beloved Canadian Football League. I highly doubt that either coach Wally Bouno or coach Mike Clemons, both of whom are Christians, are giving their teams instructions about being kind to their opposition…
Yet even in sport, there is an award called the Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy, which has a very huge profile in Europe even though most North Americans have never heard of it. Many people consider it the highest honor in all of sport. In 1990, it was awarded to two British men in the marathon tandem kayak racing event at the world championships in Copenhagen. Danish paddlers were leading when their rudder was damaged in a portage. British paddlers, who were in second place, stopped to help the Danes fix it. The Danes went on to defeat the British by one second in an event that lasted nearly three hours, yet the Brits were later awarded this honor. In the past, the trophy has gone to a Hungarian tennis player who pleaded with officials to give his opponent more time to recover from a cramp, and to an American high school basketball coach who forfeited the Georgia state championship after he found out that one of his players was scholastically ineligible. The first trophy went to an Italian bobsledder named Eugenio Monti. In the two-man bobsled event at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics, Monti was the leader after his final run. The only one with a chance to beat him was Tony Nash of Great Britain. As Nash and his teammate got ready for their final run, they discovered that a critical bolt on their sled had snapped at the last moment. Monti was informed of the problem and immediately took the corresponding bolt from his own sled and sent it up to Nash. Nash fixed his sled, came hurtling down the course to set a record and won the gold medal.
Acts of kindness, each of them, recognized and rewarded. When I think about kindness on a more personal level, I am convinced that our society still values kindness on a day by day basis. We expect people to be polite at the check out, we are horrified when people don’t stop to help someone who is hurt. When we hear about someone who has been taken advantage of, we feel angry. Likewise, when we hear stories of deeds of kindness they warm our hearts and encourage us, and when someone treats us kindly (especially when it is undeserved), we are deeply appreciative.