“Have courage and be kind.”
Last week we looked closer into this motto, as highlighted in the latest Cinderella movie (2015) by little Ella’s mother. We dug into courage and what it can look like. I pray it was an encouragement for us all as we learn to wait on God’s direction, to be bold and brave in His timing. This week I would like to take a look at kindness.
“Have courage and be kind.” These are words that Cinderella lived by and were so strongly embedded into her character that they poured out of her every word and action. One didn’t need to be around her very long to detect a quiet strength and a genuine love and kindness for all of God’s creation.
This phrase has impacted me greatly over the past year and I’ve seen it woven into many areas of my life. For example, I used to always tell my daughters to “be nice” – when playing with friends, speaking to others, etc. I noticed one day that a dear friend of mine says to her children, “be kind”. The difference got me thinking and I felt to modify my words as well. This small variation may seem insignificant to some but, to me, it was a complete change.
Nice is defined as “being pleasant, agreeable or good”. Being nice is a great and wonderful thing and we should be nice to all those around us. However, when I stopped to think about it, I felt like the word “nice” has a relatively shallow meaning. Anyone can say nice things or do nice things…anyone can be nice on the surface…but do we always mean it deep down?
Being kind is defined as “being of a benevolent nature; gentle; generous; warm-hearted”. To me, this is different. Being kind is not easily faked or manufactured. Being kind comes from the inside, from a heart of gentleness and love.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatian 5:22-23 (NLT)
I love how this verse highlights the awesome characteristics that should embody a follower of Christ. I must admit, though, that growing up I often felt like this was a list of goals I needed to attain. I knew I needed to have these characteristics but I always felt I was falling short. When I did exemplify these traits, it was short-lived and I would plummet again into an attitude of selfishness and short-sightedness (especially as a teen!). I just couldn’t seem to measure up.
My revelation came many years later when I realized the biggest part of this verse. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives…”. The Holy Spirit! This is His work in me! It is not my job to dig deep and create these godly characteristics within myself. In my sinful, rebellious nature, I can never live up to this. In my own self, I will always fall short. But God… Oh I love that phrase! But God…! When we accept Christ as our Saviour, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts. He then begins the process of molding us to be more like Christ. He starts sweeping out the sin in our lives so that more of Himself and His character can fill our hearts and overflow as the fruits of His Spirit. This is a process, my friend, and takes time but it is an amazing experience.
I have often felt (and often still do), that I can’t live up to Christ’s standards. Sometimes I don’t have enough patience with my family, some days I don’t have joy in my heart, and there are times I can’t control my thoughts or my tongue. If this is also you, friend, let me encourage you. The Holy Spirit wants to fill you up with so much of Him that these fruits will pour out of you. The more He fills you, the more of Him and His nature you will have. This comes from spending time with Him regularly, in prayer and in His Word and it comes from obedience. God honours obedience. Is He prompting you to get rid of a certain sinful habit in your life? Do it. Do you need to make amends with someone or change a behaviour because you know He’s calling you to? Do it. God values your obedience and with it, He will fill you up with more of His Spirit. It truly is a mind-blowing process, and ongoing transformation! This is when will see His fruit. This is where we find our (His) true kindness.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
Love and Blessings,