Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kindness... Goodness

We are now on the fifth and sixth characteristics of the fullness of the Spirit. Quoting Beth Moore, "Kindness and goodness are complementary aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. Without kindness, goodness becomes harsh and self-righteous. Without goodness, kindness becomes indulgent tolerance."

The Greek word for Kindness means "tender concern for others." This was first displayed by God the Father as He dealt with the individuals who would become His fledgling nation, Israel. It was further displayed by Christ, our Savior, in His attitude toward children (Matt. 18:1-9 and Matt. 19:13-15); toward Israel (Matt. 23:27-39); and toward the individual (John 20:1-18 and 24-31.) We have been given examples of tender-hearted kindness which we are to emulate, but only through the yielding to the Holy Spirit.

Goodness, on the other hand, speaks more of action; it is character energized. As believers, we have been entrusted with certain "assignments", also denoted "good works" (Eph. 2:10) that must be put into action. Quoting Beth again, "In His sovereignty, God has chosen to do His work through us. If we miss our ministry, we will miss our entire purpose in remaining here."

Yet another aspect of goodness is this: all that is good, profitable or beneficial (see Titus 3:1-8) is not always fun, easy, or pleasant. Sometimes we are called to impart goodness to another by correcting or rebuking according to the Word of God. The process may be painful, but it is always profitable. In order to avoid bringing harm with a rebuke, God has first equipped us with Kindness, His own personal safeguard to confrontation.

Beth's final warning is that "you must be yielded to God to be a proper vessel of confrontational goodness... Goodness is never a personal issue, nor a personal platform, nor for personal gain."

I am seeing more and more that the words on the pages of Galatians 5:23 are not just pretty pieces of fruit in a handsome basket. Humanly speaking, we can pick a trait and wear it for a while, then put it back when it gets inconvenient. Being yielded to the Holy Spirit enables us to channel those traits when God needs to act through us, thereby bypassing our natural inclinations that are so often tainted with sin.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness..."

(Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself.)

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