Sermon on June 29, 2008: Kindness

15 07 2008

 

Well, here we are at Number 5 – the 5th Fruit of the Spirit.  So far we have talked about these Fruits of the Spirit and how they are the direct result of the Holy Spirit moving in and taking up residence deep within us.  How this indwelling of the Spirit results in a change in who we are.  How this results in us exhibiting a different way of living.  Among these are AGAPE – the unconditional love of God.  We love as God loves.  We love God.  We love each other unconditionally, with no strings.  We learned that this results in CHARA – joy.  And that this joy is there because of the EIRENE that we find.  Our souls are quiet, because we have found peace – peace that is ours because we know that all is well between ourselves and God.  And then last week we learned about the MAKROTHUMIA – the patience of God – the tolerance.  It is the quality of putting up with other people, even when patience is sorely tried.  It is the ability to show to others the same tolerance that God has show and continues to show to us.

         

OK.  That’s a review of what we have spoken about the last four weeks.  So today we move on to the Fifth Fruit of the Spirit.  And according to St. Paul – according to Galatians 5:22 the Fifth Fruit of the Holy Spirit is. CHRESTOTES – what a funny sounding word.  CHRESTOTES.  This word is normally translated as KINDNESS or GENEROSITY.  “Hey,” I thought to myself.  “This is going to be easy.  I am a pretty kind guy.  I am always nice to children and dogs.  I try not to go out of my way to hurt other people.  I am pretty generous.  I am the first one to buy Girl Scout Cookies or boxes of fruit from the members of the High School Band.  I have finally found a Fruit of the Spirit that is pretty easy for me, or at least easier than that patience/tolerance thing I had to speak about last week. 

 

          But then I went to the Commentary on Galatians that I have been using these past four weeks and here is what I found:

 

CHRESTOTES is translated in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible and in the New English Bible as “kindness.”  It also has the connotation of “goodness” and “generosity,” but these are covered by other words in the list before us.  So why would St. Paul include this word in his list of the Fruits of the Spirit?  Perhaps an understanding of what St. Paul is speaking about comes from understanding that the common slave-name CHRESTOS comes from this word, so perhaps St. Paul is suggesting some quality that was looked for in the ideal servant.  Perhaps St. Paul means goodness that comes from seeing oneself as the servant – the slave – to others.

 

            A slave is one who would put the needs and the desires of the master always first.  A slave would not be allowed to eat until after the master had been fed and all of his needs and desires met.  Then the slave could go to the kitchen and eat.

 

          The slave could not go to bed until after the master had gone to bed and was fast asleep.  The slave needed to stay awake in case the master needed anything.  When the master was fast asleep then the slave could lie down.

 

          The slave had to be up before the master awoke so that when the master awoke and needed something that he would be up and awake and alert and ready should the master need something.

 

          Is this what St. Paul is talking about?  We need to see ourselves in a life of service?  Yes.  To live a life of service to God?  Yes!  To live a life of service to others?  Yes!  To live a life of service to those we don’t even like?  Yes!  To give food to people we don’t even know?  Yes!  To pray for people we don’t even like?  Yes!  To listen to people who are hurting when we have our own problems?  Yes!  To offer our time to help when our plates are already full?  Yes!

 

          And why should we do this?  Because this is what God has done for us.  It is Jesus who shows us what it really and truly means to be a servant.  God had created this world and everything in it.  He gave us paradise, and we threw it all away.  And when we had done that, what did our God do for us?  Did He turn His back on us as ungrateful?  Did He walk away from us?  No!  Instead He humbled Himself – took on the role of a servant – left His home in heaven – came down to this world to be our servant.  Allowed people to ridicule Him – arrest Him – crucify Him – all so that we could have a second chance.  He made Himself into our servant so that we could have life eternal.  He served us.  He was kind to us.  He was generous to us.  He gave His life and His blood for us.  Such was the love of God – such was the AGAPE of God. 

 

          And so God comes to us today and asks us to be Christ like.  He asks us to be servant to all.  He asks us to care for one another, as He cares for us.  He asks us to serve one another, as He serves us.  He asks us to be kind to one another, as He was kind to us.  He asks us to be generous with one another, as He was generous to us.  He asks us to set aside our ego – our me firstness – our self –centeredness – that seems to be the mark of this generation – and to become a servant to others.  To treat each other as we would have others treat us – as God has treated us.

 

          Well, here we are again.  I have said everything that I want to say about CHRESTOTES Now what is it that God wants us to do?  If the Holy Spirit has truly taken up residence within us then what does that mean for us as we live out each day of our life?  It means that we stop asking the question WHY?  Instead we ask the question HOW?  We don’t ask why should I be kind?  Why should I be generous?  What’s in it for me?  What do I get out of it?  Instead we ask HOW?  How can I be of help?  How can I help you to feel the AGAPE of God?  How can I help you to feel my AGAPE for you?  How can I make your burden a little lighter?  How can I make your life less bleak?  God has done that for me.  He has touched my heart.  He has touched my soul – with His love.  Jesus became a servant to me so that I can be a servant to you?  How can I serve you?  How can I help?

 

 

Amen!

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