[6 Strengths of a Servant-Centered Spirit ]
Definition: Kindness - Grk: chrestotes, Useful, helpfulness; the willingness to serve the needs of others.
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you can be anything in the world, be kind”?
Kindness is a popular slogan in our society. We see the signs that read be tolerant and offer us a misconstrued notion that we should just simply all coexist. Yet this friction in our communities simply does not make much sense. We preach love and respect but where are its effects?
If I am being honest, I feel like our world has a very difficult time showing kindness.
What made us so quick to hold grudges and think we have the right to play judges?
Why must we feel the need to shame our sisters and brothers simply because we are different colors? And when did hatred for those who live differently become an acceptable form of bigotry?
Friend, I believe our world is so unkind because we have become blind to the deepest needs of mankind.
As seen in its original definition, biblical kindness at its roots actively seeks to meet the needs of others by its atunenss to God’s will and way. The key to spirit-infused kindness is simply that it does not have a self-seeking source. It does not wait for a response or equality of exchange but genuinely attends to other's needs.
The kindness that is produced by the outpouring of Christ’s indwelling, seeks to serve others without reply, repayment, or restitution. It is the kind of servanthood Christ took on when he knelt and washed His disciples' feet. It is seen in Christ’s intentionality to help the hungry and heal the hurting.
Kindness is the active tense of love.
As I John reminds us, “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (3v18).
With this understanding, kindness is most easily explained as love’s external expression towards others. It is an interpersonal action that seeks to meet the visible needs of others while avoiding harshness, insincerity, and selfishness. By viewing this “Kindness” as more than one single virtue, we can identify the outpouring actions the Holy Spirit initiatives in humbled hearts.
This fruit of kindness, one Author explains, “is only learned in the school of Christ, by the study of the New Testament.” So, it is here we will start our search for the strengths of a servant-centered spirit.
1. Jesus Graciously Gave = Generosity.
“As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were leftover. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children."
This example beautifully portrays kindness through the action of generosity. Jesus, seeing the crowd’s need for food gave abundantly. I love the end of this passage where it says, “They all ate and were satisfied..” Jesus didn’t just limit His generosity to those He knew were listening to His message, He offered all who were there the amount they needed to be satisfied.
Generosity is simply this: Graciously Giving
What does generosity look like for you? Maybe it's going out of your way to spend time with someone who needs a friend. Maybe it's covering the grocery bill for a mother who is having to decide what to buy and what to put back so she does not go over budget. Or maybe the first step in this form of kindness is simply becoming aware of the needs around us each new day. Let’s following in Christ’s example and graciously give, knowing that all we have belongs to Him!
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
2. Jesus Served with Sympathy = Compassion
“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.”
This account is one that is so powerful to read. Christ was moved with compassion, which led him to heal the man with leprosy. Here are two important takeaways from Christ’s example:
1. His compassion was for the man’s pain
2. His compassion initiated his action of healing
When do we experience compassion? Is it with those we care about, agree with, hang out with? Do our hearts bleed when we see the pain produced in prostitution, promiscuity, and pornography addictions? Or are we simply just disgusted. Friend, I pray our spirits are strong enough to see past the external sources of people's suffering and sympathize with the pain they are experiencing.
If there is one thing we all have in common it is pain. So let's feel it together..
Compassion is simply: Serving with Sympathy
What does compassion look like for you? Maybe it's listening to someone’s story and seeking to sympathize with their suffering. Or maybe it's serving someone whom you know is struggling. Ultimately, compassion connects us; it leads us to look past people’s position of profession and serve souls without question.
“ Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive...16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-13;16-17
3. Jesus Surrendered His Stone = Mercy
“He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Here we see the powerful act of mercy meeting the need of this woman’s wearied soul. Jesus, who was blameless, and without sin refused to throw a stone and sought to serve this woman's soul.
This story reminds me of what Paul writes in Romans 2:4 that God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. Jesus stopped the shaming and blaming of the crowds and with kindness offers this woman the invitation to turn from her sin and struggles.
Who are we in this story? Do we respond to the sinfulness of this world with a self-righteous sense of security, shaming and blaming the world’s impurities? Have we lost the meaning of mercy and the might of its movement in the lives of those who are merely human?
Mercy is simply: Surrendering Our Stones
What does mercy look like for you? Maybe it's starting the movement of mercy in your community and congregation. Or maybe it's stepping out and speaking up with the boldness of Christ to stop the segregation and social stigmas of spiritual superiority.
“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute
Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13
4. Jesus Shared with Strangers = Impartiality
“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
This passage is one that often challenges our character of kindness. We find comfort in our community and cliques yet this virtue of benevolence is irrelevant in this comfortable context. Jesus offers us a significant lesson in extending our lives across the proverbial line of our personal preference. For where is our mission field if we refuse to step onto the battlefield?
This world has wasted its time categorizing color and race, forgetting that we all have been shown God’s good grace. So, this gospel as Jesus said, is not simply for those who are saved but for those who are currently enslaved.
Are we preaching to the popular and pretty or have we begun to sit at the table with those from different cities? This is where kindness cures soul blindness as it speaks of a Savior who taught us to simply love our neighbor.
Impartiality is simply: Sharing with Strangers
What does impartiality look like for you? Maybe it's sharing a meal with a stranger. Or maybe it is giving the gospel to the guy with bloodshot eyes. Friend, let your light shine in the darkest places.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that's they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:11
5. Jesus Affirmed The Faithful = Encouragement
“ And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”
“ She has done a beautiful thing..” Can you just imagine hearing those words from Jesus? I love this passage so much because it reminds us to take notice of the faithful steps of God’s servants and celebrate the evidence of the Spirit's at work in them.
How are we encouraging those in our corner? Do we make it our mission to support our sisters and brothers in serving our Savior? As a body of believers, do we pray for those who preach to us and stand with those who have been gifted to go into drylands?
Encouragement is simply: Affirming the Faithful
What does Encouragement look like for you? Maybe it’s sending a letter to a faithful friend or celebrating the Spiritual surrender of one's soul. Or maybe it’s using your words to pray for another, posting a picture, or sharing a sweet scripture. Let us not forget to be there for one another.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24
6. Jesus Washed others Feet = Forgiveness
“ When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
This final example of Christ’s kindness promotes an unthinkable posture. Christ calls us to follow in His footsteps, serving those who have hurt us. I can imagine that this invitation to forgive is for many unthinkable to relive. The cycle of abuse, power, and its misuse, all have no room for excuse. But oh, how Christ too has suffered with us in these moments!
Hebrews reminds us that, “...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (v14-16)
Our posture of peace in these painful places is found in drawing near to God’s unending graces. I am finding that forgiveness starts with facing my failures to find healing regardless of my feelings.
Forgiveness is simply: Washing Feet
What does forgiveness look like for you? Maybe it is following Christ’s example in serving those who have sinned against you. or maybe it’s bravely sharing your feelings of fear or frustration with a distant friend. Maybe it starts with facing our failures and acknowledging the gospel of grace as a safe place.
“ [Let us] get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.” Ephesians 4:31-32
What beautiful fruit kindness kindles in the lives of those who seek a servant- centered spirit. May we pray to continue to walk in step the Spirit this week, and cultivate this "kind" of kindness.