Charles Stanley - The Attractive Quality of Kindness
Do you consider yourself a kind person? Think about it a moment. Are you a kind person? You're friendly. You're generous. You're patient. You're easygoing. You're warmhearted, thoughtful, and you're just fun to be with. Now, you may be thinking, "No, I'm not," but I'd like to meet somebody like that. But I want you to think about this. A kind person is a person who stands out in a crowd. They may not be the one who talks the most, but there's something about a kind person. It's sort of a built-in attraction, it's just there. And when a person's kind, it not only shows in their face, but naturally most of all in their actions.
And when I think about that, and I think about the characteristics of it, it's very evident that it's of the Holy Spirit because Paul says in this fifth chapter of Galatians, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience," we've talked about all of those, and then kindness. Goodness and gentleness are two other traits, but I'm going to just leave those with kindness because if you're gentle, you're going to be kind. If you're good, you're going to be kind. And so, rather than take a whole message on each one of those, I want to talk about kindness and goodness and gentleness.
And so, when you think about kindness, what comes to your mind? Would you consider yourself a kind person? And maybe you would and maybe you wouldn't, but also he says, and this is one of my favorite verses about kindness in the fourth chapter of Ephesians. The thirty-second verse says, listen, "Be ye kind, one toward another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ Jesus has forgiven you. Be ye kind one to another". And then Paul says in Colossians the third chapter, "Put on a heart of kindness". That is, it's our responsibility as a child of God to be kind. And we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the source of our kindness.
So, the natural outflow in your life and mine should be, to those around us, that of kindness. And all these characteristics that we mention: friendly, generous, patient, easygoing, thoughtful, warm hearted, and ask yourself the question, would that be true of me? Would your children see you as kind? Your husband or wife see you as kind? They may say, "Well, lot of characteristics, but kindness isn't one of them". Kindness is a very, very Christ-like characteristic. And you don't hear much about kindness, but the apostle Paul says it's the fruit of the Spirit. That is, when the Holy Spirit is free in you and me to live out what God intends for Him to live out in us, kindness is going to be one of them. We're going to be thoughtful of others, our mind's going to be upon them.
And when I think about that, I think about the first lesson I ever learned about kindness wasn't a very good one. But my mom was going to town one afternoon when I was just probably seven, eight, or something like that, and she wouldn't let me go with her. And I didn't like it. And I said something to her. She was on the way out. She walked down the steps and I was on the porch and I said something to her that was not very kind. And I was ashamed of myself when I said it, and knew I shouldn't have said it. I wanted to go, but she wouldn't let me, and so here's what she did. She turned around and she said, "Charles, the Bible says, 'Be kind to one another.'" I've never forgotten it because it went straight to my heart. I've never forgotten the sound of her voice. "Charles, the Bible says, 'Be kind to one another.'"
Kindness is a natural, normal trait of a believer, especially one who is living in the Spirit of God. And so, you ask yourself the question: would that be true of you? And if you think about it, kindness is a built-in attraction to a child of God because Christ is our life, living within us and living through us, kindness. Therefore, a person who's kind not only does certain things, but they automatically, there's something inside of them that's always sensitive to somebody who needs kindness. Or in some way, you can express kindness. It may be something you say verbally. It may be something you do as far as some action is concerned. But kindness is a natural trait of a child of God. "Be ye kind, one toward another, tender-hearted," he says forgiving one another even, "as God in Christ has forgiven," us.
And Jesus was certainly kind in His day. You say, "Why are you think He's so kind"? I'll tell you one reason. Bartimaeus, a poor blind beggar, when they brought him to Jesus, here's what He said to him. He didn't say to him, "What happened to you"? Or, "Why are you sitting on a highway"? Say, "Why are you begging anyway? Why don't you"? No, He said, "Bartimaeus, what would you like for Me to do to you"? And he said, "Lord, that I may receive my sight". And He gave him his sight. But kindness is a trait that should be true of every single one of us. And if you'll think about it, there is no reason not to be kind. The fruit of the Spirit, which says because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, you have the capacity to be kind to people no matter what.
If you'll think for a moment, listen, in Titus chapter three, because our salvation is an act of God's kindness. So, listen to what he says beginning in verse four. "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of our deeds which we've done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior". That is, one of the expressions of the Holy Spirit in our life is to be kind. So, if somebody says, "Are you filled with the Spirit"? and you say yes, then they have a right to expect you to be kind.
Now, that doesn't mean being kind in every single situation and being like a teddy bear. No, kindness is also strong, because kindness responds kindly even in difficult situations. And so, ask yourself the question: would you be considered kind? And then, for example, in Romans chapter two, look at this chapter two and look, if you will, in this fourth verse. He says, speaking of kindness, chapter two, verse four, He says, "Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness"? That is, he says the riches of God's kindness, which means He's very kind to us. And think about this: God is kind to the wicked people. He could strike them dead in a moment if He wanted to. God is always kind. He's kind, He's strong, He's deliberate, He's holy and righteous, but He's also kind. And the truth is, none of us probably would be saved if God were not kind. He's kind, He's thoughtful, all these characteristics.
"Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance"? That is, we repented of our sins because of God's goodness and kindness and love and forgiveness and all the rest that goes with it, all the fruits of the Spirit. So, would you consider yourself a kind person? If you live with somebody who's unkind, you live with a burden. You live with someone who mistreats you, says ugly things to you, does all the things that unkindness would do. That's very, very difficult. And what's more difficult is that you remain kind in the circumstance where kindness is not seen anywhere else, it's very difficult. And I'll tell you something else, God rewards our kindness. He rewards our kindness. And the more difficult the situation you live in and you're kind, God will reward you for your kindness. I've watched that happen over and over and over again.
So, somebody says, "Well, what about when people mistreat you and say terrible things - you have to defend yourself". Not necessarily. And I'll tell you something else. An act of kindness sometimes is the strongest defense you can have. When somebody just tells you off and lets you have it and you just stand there, what I've discovered is this: they do not know what to do with kindness.
And I remember one time that happened to me, and somebody just telling me off and accusing me of something that was absolutely ridiculous, and I knew how ridiculous it was. So, I just stood there and said, "Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm". And then when they finished, I said, "Is there anything else"? Down they went. I mean, you can't fight kindness. How do you fight kindness? You can't fight it. It's a conquering element of character to be kind when someone is very unkind to you. Kindness is not an excuse for letting people get by with whatever it may be. It's a strong, vibrant, godly trait to be kind.
So, we don't have any excuse for not being kind. And so, let's think about some expressions of kindness that God has expressed toward us? Well, the first one is He pardons us from our sin. Not a single one of us can brag about anything we've ever done to gain redemption. So, He pardons our sins. The second way He expresses kindness is He provides for our needs. You just think about how often you've been needy in your life, whatever it might be. Whether it's emotion or physically, materially. And what happens? God in His gentleness, kindness, goodness, what does He do? He provides for your need. That's who He is. He provides our salvation, He provides our needs. Then He protects us, oftentimes, in times of danger.
How many times we've been in situations and circumstances and God reaches down to protect us, or our children, whoever it may be, in times when we desperately need Him. And often, think about this, we don't even realize how often He's being kind to us. We don't know who's plotting against us. In your job, for example, to take your position, or whatever it might be. Or in your home or whatever it might be. And yet, God is being kind. Oftentimes He sends you a signal to watch out, whatever it might be. And then, think about this: every answered prayer is an act of kindness on the part of God. None of us would say, "Lord, I want You to answer my prayer because I've done thus and so. I want You to answer my prayer because I deserve this". None of us can boast of that. He answers our prayers as an act of pure kindness to us.
What have we ever done and done enough to merit God's kindness toward us? Nothing, no matter what we do. And if you'll think about He reached down when you and I were living in sin and He forgave us of our sins, He wrote our name in the Lamb's Book of Life. We have the gift of eternal life, which no one can take from us. You talking about a gift of kindness, that is awesome kindness. A gift, listen, remember He saved you and me knowing we weren't always going to obey Him. He saved us knowing that sometimes we'd get out of His will. He saved us knowing that sometimes we wouldn't act very godly. He saved us, sometimes we'd be selfish, sometimes we'd be prideful, sometimes we'd be arrogant, sometimes we just wouldn't be fit to live with. And what did He do? He saved us and, watch this, He not only saved us, but He reached out to put His divine, supernatural, awesome, loving hand upon us to keep us until the last moment of our life when He takes us home to Himself.
That is unbelievable kindness, that's who He is. Then, likewise, look at the promises He's kept. Every promise God has made to His children, He will keep every single one of them. Once you have the gift of eternal life, that's a promise He'll always keep, no matter what you do. But you'll pay the penalty of disobedience even though you're a child of God. That is, when God makes a promise, He's gonna keep it. Now, you may be in a situation where you think, "Well, if God kept His promises, He wouldn't allow me to be in this". It may be that you stepped into something out of His will. And what's God doing? He's keeping His promise. "How could God keep His promise and cause me to hurt like this"? Because He made a promise. He promised that He'd chastise us out of love when we disobey Him. What is He doing? He's keeping His promise.
You can't ever come to a place in life where God does not keep His promise. And so, people go through very, very difficult hardships in life, oftentimes because they didn't keep His Word, didn't obey Him, and so what is He doing? Here's what He's doing. You'll reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. You say, "Well now, what about a promise"? Well, that is a promise. If you're sowing wonderful seed, you love that, right? If you're disobeying Him, you don't love it. But it's just God keeping His promise. It's God being kind. If He did not do that, you and I would never know where we are with Him. He's kind no matter what.
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die," is an awesome, awesome, warning of God, but it's a warning. It's not a warning because He hates, it's a warning because He loves. He's kind to us, He wants us to tell us ahead of time what's gonna happen if we don't repent of our sin. You can't ever accuse God of being unkind about anything, not legitimately. Every once in a while, somebody will say, "Well, if God was kind, He would never let this happen in my life". We've all got those kind of things. But the truth is, He's keeping His Word.
So, I'll ask you this question: would you want a God, if you could, would you want to have a God who does what He says most of the time, sometimes, but every once in while He doesn't? You want that kind of God? No, we want a God who's absolutely true all the time because He is true. Now, it may not fall under your category of kindness, we all probably have our category of what kindness is. And then we have a category of what God's kindness is, that's always true. But He's always kind. And when we bring difficulty upon ourselves, it's because we have disobeyed the great giver of kindness who wants the best for us. Then, of course, He's personally involved in our life. Think about this. Not only did He save you, but He sent you the Holy Spirit to be personally involved in every single area of your life.
You're talking about a gift of kindness. Listen, He's there whether you and I are obedient or not. He wants to express kindness, He loves expressing kindness. Now, what do you think would happen if you disobeyed God, and all of us have. You disobeyed God and said, He said, "Well, nobody's perfect. We'll forget that". You know what it would do? It would unseat your faith in God. Because you wouldn't ever know exactly where you are if He let you get by with something. But kindness involves truthfulness. It involves discipline, it involves instruction, it involves love, it involves gentleness, kindness. It involves lots of things.
And so, all of this is part of it, and then of course, His promise of presence with us. Listen to this, "I'll never leave you, nor forsake you". Is that kindness or is it not? Now, it's one thing for somebody else to say that. But for God to say to you, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," and period. He didn't say, except, if, and but, when, except who. No, "I'll never leave you nor forsake you". God's kindness is absolutely indescribable. But it's also feel-able, and it's also enjoyable, and it's also true in our life, the kindness of God. So, I would simply say that our lifestyle should be an expression of kindness of God.
Now, I want to give you several Scriptures, you can jot them down. Proverbs nineteen, twenty-two says, "What is desirable in a man is kindness". That's Proverbs. What is that? What is desirable in a man, that is kindness. Now, what does the world say? Muscular, strong, handsome, rich, lovable, and all the bunch of stuff that the world has. The Bible says, what's desirable in a man is kindness. Listen, Proverbs three-three, "Don't let kindness and truth leave you, bind them about your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart". Keep it close in your thinking and actions. Listen to that, "Don't let kindness and truth leave you. Bind them about your neck," not your ankle, not your knee. Why does He bind them about your neck? Get them as close as He possibly can. In other words, make this first. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart.
That is, it's not enough to know about kindness, write it on your heart. It's got to be a part of you. Keep it close thinking and in action. Zechariah, chapter seven, verse nine. Listen, "Practice kindness and compassion to one another". Practice it. Now, I'm glad He said practice it. Because, sometimes kindness has to be practiced. And sometimes, you may have a very difficult time with the person you are married to or your children or whatever. And you've not been very kind. You're sitting here thinking, "Well, who told him about me"? Nobody. Everybody goes through those periods at some point in their life, of not being kind, probably. But what's our responsibility? Watch this, the Bible doesn't make any mistakes. He didn't just say be kind, practice kindness. Wouldn't you say at your house maybe at times you've had to practice it. Practice kindness, because it doesn't always come easy. And then He says, in first Peter, chapter two, verse three, "Tasting the kindness of the Lord," which simply means experiencing it.
Do you experience the kindness of God? Do you sense it? Now, since His readers had tasted or experienced the goodness and grace of God, he wants to make it very, very clear that you and I realize it to be a part of our life. And if anybody should desire any quality in life, I would place kindness right close to the top. Now, if you're not kind, let me tell you how you ought to feel: very convicted, very much ashamed of yourself. You ought to feel like going home and confessing to your family that you've not been the kind dad or son or daughter or mother that you ought to be, and that you're asking God to forgive you, and you're asking them to forgive you. And with their help, you want to start being the kind husband, father, wife, daughter, sister, you name it. You want to be the kind of person God made you to be.
Now, you say, "Oh, that's not necessary". No, it's necessary, but it takes a man to do it. It takes a real woman to do it. To say, "You know, I've not been kind to you," especially if they've mistreated you. To say, "I just want you to know, I haven't been as kind as I ought to be, and I want to be. If you'll help me to be, I want to be kind". Kindness'll change your family. It can change your working location. It can change your friendships. It can change the people you mix with. Kindness is a gift from God, provided by the Holy Spirit, and we are the channels through which Almighty God speaks kindness to those we live with, those who are our friends, strangers, wherever it might be. Kindness.
Now, one thing you cannot say, "I don't know how to be kind". Yes, you do. Just do the thing that's proper from God's viewpoint. You'll change your family. Watch this: it only takes one person to change a whole family. You'll change the atmosphere where you work. They won't know what happened. You'll change the atmosphere. You'll change the atmosphere around your dinner table at night. You'll change all the commotion early in the morning when everybody's getting ready to go ten different places and you're trying to fix breakfast. Kindness changes everything.
Now, if you've never trusted Christ as your Savior, that's not going to work. Because you see, He gives the gift of kindness to those who are His children. Those who've trusted Him. So, I want to encourage you to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sin, your lack of kindness, all the things you've said and done, hurting people around you, whether it's in your home or where you work or where you play. Asking God to so change your life that when they see you, they will know that something has transpired in your life. You're not the same person, because God is now expressing kindness through you.
Father, we love You and praise You, and thank You for kindness that we couldn't ever fully comprehend. And when we look at the cross, we see the most powerful, unforgettable, eternal example of kindness. When we didn't deserve it, You loved us anyway. And I pray the Holy Spirit has spoken to every single person here today, my heart, every heart, to examine: are we really kind in our actions? Do we show it? Father, examine our hearts, do we express kindness in difficult situations, hardships, trials, suffering, rejection, hurt, pain. Show us that we have the Holy Spirit within us who will enable us even in the midst of being blistered by someone else, we can act kindly in forgiveness toward them. You have been so kind to us, show us how to be kind to everybody we meet. We love You, Father, we love You for Your kindness toward us that You saved us, and we bless Your holy name this morning. Amen.