Kindness

kindnesssmJesus was uncommonly kind. He frequently set aside his own schedule and agenda to meet the needs of others. He greatly valued those whom society so easily discarded. Even through the pain of crucifixion Jesus provided hope to the dying and the grieving.

As followers of Jesus we want to grow into his likeness. That includes becoming people of uncommon kindness. But here’s the tension: we have the power to act with kindness, but we do not have the power to create kind hearts within ourselves. In other words, we can control our actions but not always the heart of our motivation. If you’ve ever grudgingly done an act of kindness you know what I mean! As a disciple I don’t just want to act with kindness; I want my heart genuinely inclined to extend kindness to people.

St. Francis of Assisi was the son of a wealthy merchant. As a young man, Francis loved to party and dreamed of winning glory and riches as a knight. But over time, to the amazement (and sharp disapproval) of his family and friends, he became a man consumed with an overwhelming hunger to follow Jesus.

One day, while trying to discover God’s purpose for his life, Francis met a leper on the road. Still a shallow young man who loved beauty and hated ugliness and uncleanness of any kind, Francis was thoroughly disgusted. Nevertheless, he forced himself to dismount from his horse and kiss the leper. When Francis re-mounted his horse and rode away, he turned around for a last look at the leper he had just kissed. But the leper had disappeared. At that moment, Francis was seized by the conviction that the leper had been Christ. In that moment God began to re-shape Francis’ heart. What had previously repulsed him suddenly became the object of his deepest affections.

As one aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) there is work for us to do and work that only God’s Spirit can do when it comes to growing in kindness. Francis learned, as have many disciples over the years, that we do not wait until God moves our hearts before acting with kindness. Instead, we act with kindness and discover along the way that God shapes our hearts.

How can you express Christ’s kindness to someone this week? What barriers do you face?

Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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Comments
  • Elaine Lord

    Thank you for this post. I sometimes need a “reminder” as of late and I will save this post” to my daily “calender” to do just that.