Remember Titus 3—while we were opposed to God, He showed us His loving kindness.
So you see, kindness is actually at the very heart of gospel culture. And it is what needs to be cultivated in our churches and our lives if we are going to reflect the beauty of the gospel more—both to one another and to those outside who don’t know Christ. We extend kindness to one another not because we deserve it but because of our love for and worship of God (Job 6:14).
Entrust Your Heart to God
A big part of kindness is entrusting our hearts to God. Kindness towards others involves surrendering your heart to God. That is how our hearts can stay tenderhearted even towards people who have hurt us. Because we aren’t growing hard, cold, and calloused out of hatred or self-preservation, but we can be tenderhearted and kind. Of course, we can only do this through the Spirit, who helps us to entrust ourselves to God and worship Him in all circumstances. That is why kindness is such an important part of cultivating a gospel culture in our churches, because kindness (tender-heartedness) is the soil for forgiveness.
Sisters, this is so important. The cross has freed us from slavery to sin and has given us the freedom in Christ to lay ourselves down for one another and to serve one another—to die to self and view one another as more important than ourselves. To be tender hearted, all the time— but especially in moments of pain or conflict or disagreement. That’s the beauty of the gospel. When we see ourselves in light of the great loving kindness extended to us from God, we can’t help but forgive each other and extend the love and welcome of Jesus. And that’s kindness.
So, we’ve looked at what kindness is and how we grow in it. And now, just real briefly, I want to end with thinking on how growth in kindness produces hope.
Kindness and Hope
Romans 5:1–5 says this: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
We read here that godly character is grown in us through the Holy Spirit’s work of growing our character through much endurance in suffering. And that is the guarantee of our hope—our salvation and our future hope is sealed by the Holy Spirit. How do we know? Because the Spirit’s presence is evidenced by His work in our lives which bears the fruit of godly character—including Christ’s kindness.
Tim Keller puts it like this: “Jesus Christ suffered not that we might not suffer, but that when we suffer we’d become like him. If you know he was thrown into the furnace for you, then you will feel him walking in the furnace with you, and you’ll know that just as through suffering came grace and glory in his life then also through suffering will come grace and glory in yours.”
If we are walking with Christ, our hope is not based on our circumstances changing or our pain going away. Our hope isn’t based on how people respond to us. Our hope is based on Christ—He died for us, He rose, He is alive, He reigns, and He will return. Those things are sure. And our hope in Him increases as He walks with us through suffering and as we witness His care for us every step of the way. Our hope grows as we see Him changing us and as we see Him faithfully giving us the power to endure in kindness with great joy. He suffered so that when we suffer we’d become like Him . . . even in His kindness.
Kindness in Hard Places
So we are in a battle here in the schemes with kindness as a weapon of righteousness —and I know this battle is hard and many of you reading this tday are weary. I know. Kindness is sacrificial and painful. It involves dying to self. Kindness is picking up our cross and following Jesus.
And I know kindness has a cost, but is also a joy because we get to follow our Lord Jesus and become more like Him. So I want to close with some encouraging words from Hebrews 12 and then from Jude 1. These words give us the hope to persevere…these words fix our eyes on Jesus, and that’s the key to growth in kindness, isn’t it? So let’s fix our eyes on Him, our hope.
Hebrews 12: “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint-hearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. … he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” [Hebrews 12:3-4;10-14]
And then these words from Jude 1:
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24–25)