So Galatians 5 verse 13. This which says this. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free, but do not let your freedom to do need your freedom to indulge the flesh rather serve 1 another humbly in love for the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this 1 commandment love your neighbor as yourself. If you bite and devire each other, watch watch out or you'll be destroyed by each other. So I say live by the spirit and you will not and not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit. And the spirit, what is contrary to the flesh, they are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious, sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy, drunkenness, Audrey, and the like. I warn you as I did before that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of god, but the fruits of the spirit is love joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit. Father, we thank you that you are a god who delights and loves to speak to your children. We thank you for the fruit of the spirit.
And just as we're reading it, how how wonderful it is to read those things which you love to cultivate in the hearts and lives of your people. We pray that as we think about kindness this evening, that you would help us once again to marvel at the kind that you have shown us and that you would help us to be those who, in light of what Christ has done, are kind people. And we ask it in Jesus' name. Oh, man. If you wanna just cast your eyes to, Galatians 6, and, was 14 to 15.
I think this is a wonderful summary of Christian faith. Paul says, may I never boast except in the cross of our lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. What counts is a new creation. That's Christianity, isn't it?
You cannot have a saving encounter with Jesus Christ, which doesn't totally reorientate the direction of your life. It is a new creation. It's a heart operation, stone for flesh. It is a mind transformation. You can see it in the fruit of the spirit, can't you?
God is in the business of forming a new character He is in the business of giving birth to a new person. In every way, the old is gone and the new has come. But have you ever wondered how consistent was someone like Paul with that message? He wrote about it beautifully, but did he live it? For our purpose, Was he gentle?
Was he patient? Was he kind? Did he just talk about the fruit of the spirit, but actually failed to display it in his own life. Now that might sound like a ridiculous question to to put to you. But you could argue from Galatians that that is right.
I think you could get to chapter 5 of this letter, and you could read these words, kindness, gentleness, patience, okay, yep. We've got some understanding. Of what those words mean, but where was that in the last few chapters? Have a look at Galatians 1 verse 9 and 10. As we have already said, so now I say again.
If anybody is preaching to you, a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under god's curse. Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Galatians 2 verse 11 to 13. When cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. Galatians 3, 1 to 3.
You foolish Galatians. Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes, Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just 1 thing from you. Did you receive the spirit by works of the law or by believing what you heard?
Are you so foolish? Galatians 4 9 to 11? But now that you know god or rather are known by god, how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You're observing special days, months, seasons, and years.
I fear for you. That somehow I may have wasted my efforts on you. Galatians 5 11 to 12. Brothers and sisters, if I'm still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the offense of the cross has been abolished as for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.
Now, obviously, I've lifted those out of context, which isn't quite fair, but you get the idea Paul is angry at false gospels. He will condemn people to their face if they speak and live in a way, which encourages others to walk out of line, he's greeved at backsliding He wants the circumcision group to perform the ultimate operation upon themselves. In what sense? Is it at an expression of kindness or gentleness or of patience? Well, it depends how you define it.
If we think that kindness means approving of or at least not disagreeing with everything other people do, then it's not an expression of kindness. If we think it means saying nice things on every occasion, this is not a kind letter. If we think it means being very quiet and never showing any kind of passion, this is not a very kind letter. But as you can tell, that's not the definition that I want us to work with. According to the Bible, those quotes are totally consistent with a true definition of kindness.
It's not all that there is to say on the subject, but it's a big part of it here in Galatians. And that's why tonight, I want us to set up camp here in this letter and to use it as a kind of kindness dictionary. We will go to other places and see what else the Bible has to say on this particular fruit. But I wanted us to keep coming back to this letter, always asking the question, how does the book of Galatians define this fruit for us. How does this letter define this fruit?
There are 6 points. The first is mainly to do with motivation It's about the roots or the origins of Christian kindness and the other 5 points are about some of the ways that we might begin to cultivate this fruit. First 1 is the longest, and it's entitled this. The soil of kindness, where does it grow? The soil of kindness, where does it grow?
Let's open up the dictionary to Galatians 1 verse 3. Flick back to that. Grace and peace to you from God our father and the lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age according to the will of our god and father to whom be glory forever and ever are men. Galatians 1 13 to 16. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism.
How intensely I persecuted the church of god and I tried to destroy it I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when god who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his son in me so that I might preach him among the gentiles. My immediate response was not to consult any human being. In my in my second year of, of my geology course at Kingston University, over the summer, I did a work experience placement at a geotechnical engineering firm back in Bristol, and we had to do all kinds of tasks, across the city, which was really interesting, actually. And, on 1 particular occasion, we had to go and take a number of samples from a playing field that had been laid at a school over the summer.
School had commissioned, 1 particular business to relay all of their playing fields. And, it came to pass over a couple of weeks that not a single thing was growing. On this new pitch that they'd paid for. And so they asked the business that I was working with to go and do some samples. And so we went there with a shovel and, we took various samples from all over the place, and then, we did a soil analysis, which sounds very exciting, and, it is.
We did a soil analysis on this particular turf, to work out what proportion of, sand, silt, and clay was in this particular soil that they had laid. And if you know anything about soil, you need to have a very carefully balanced mix of soil sand and clay. Otherwise, things won't grow. And, according to our results, the builders or the people who had laid the, turf had put 90 percent builders sand in it. They just dumped a whole load of waste sand onto this pitch and covered it in a layer of clay.
And, nothing was growing. It was dead. It was caying. There was nothing there. They'd been ripped off.
It it was a it was a dead mixture. Nothing was gonna grow there. And in the same way, if we don't get the right soil, there will be no Christian kindness. We might be able to grow some kind of imitation, but it's not the real thing. And according to Galatians, the soil that we need is the kindness of god revealed in the gospel.
In the new testament, Paul uses his own testimony loads of times to make this point. His lie was transformed by kindness. God had set him apart from his mother's womb, He was just a baby, the size of a little apple inside his mom, smaller, even than that. And god had set him apart already. To be a preacher of the risen Christ.
And then when the time was right, god revealed that to him and the whole world turned upside down. Jesus, who was a rebel, who needed opposing and squashing, was now the lord. Who had given himself for our sins according to the will of god. Like all sinners, Before and after him, Paul deserved to die in his sin. But at the time of god's choosing, he was overwhelmed by the kindness of Jesus Christ.
And the point is that once he and once we understand the vast difference between what we deserve from god and what he offers us in the gospel, the soil of our hearts is ready and the fruit begins to grow. Jesus teaches it the same way, doesn't he in the lord's prayer? Forgive us our sins as we forgive others. The implication is that you cannot do 1 without the other. It is necessary for us to spend time at the foot of the cross every day to be washed again in the gracious blood of Christ to be forgiven of our sins if we are going to forgive and show kindness to other people.
I love that quote that I, that I picked out of Philip Dodge's biography. February, we did a whole series of church history biographies, from various characters from the past couple of centuries. And Philip Dodge, I think was a man who understood the relationship between receiving gospel kindness and giving it out. 1 of his friends said this to him in a letter. This must be a nice letter to receive.
Philip, you think everybody else 10 times better than they are. You see merit in the darkness of midnight. You cannot see faults without a noonday sun. You forgive injuries before they are confessed. You confer favors as a reward for insults, which is not to say that he ignored sin or just thought we need to get over it, but the point is this was a man who knew the saving kindness of Jesus Christ and just found it flowing out of him towards other people washing over a multitude of their sins just had god had done for him and for us.
Without that soil, there can be no Christian kindness. It will not grow. Unless it grows in our heart that has melted under the kindness of god's grace. That is what is so distinct about this. You see, the world, it's interesting with a lot of these different fruits in this list.
The the world likes the idea of kindness, doesn't it? I I guess a version of kindness features on most behavior codes in various different institutions I guess it's a part of most equality and diversity policies. Kindness is on everyone's moral agenda. You don't have to be a Christian to value kindness. So what is distinct about it?
Well, I think the world's version of kindness is is more like a kind of superficial tolerance. Imagine you've got a huge warehouse. And inside this warehouse are 24 hour UV lights. Flashing down on the soil, tolerance tolerance, acceptance, kindness, cliches, slogans, tolerance, acceptance tolerance. And every day, it's sprayed with pesticide just to sanitize everything under its roof.
What kind of fruit do you get from a warehouse like that? It looks the same. It's the perfect size. It's the perfect shape. Reels off the same slogans.
It's all conformed to 1 image, but it never has the sweetness of a sun ripened slow grown fruit. And in that way, it's sort of artificial. It flashes tolerance, but it's not real tolerance because it discriminates when it wants to. It flashes acceptance but it's not real acceptance because if you don't look the same, you get thrown on the reject pile. It flashes kindness but it's not real kindness because it doesn't encourage a kind of loving commitment to people, even to enemies.
And so what you get is these punnets of same size, same shape, same color, blur. Which looks good, but it's a bland imitation of the real thing. Jesus says this, and how's this, how's this for a definition? If you love those who love you, What credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you, even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners, lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. That is the warehouse version. Love those who love you, do good to those who do good to you, lend to those who can pay back, be kind to those who deserve it you don't have to be born again to do that.
You can be unrepentant, unsaved, unregenerate, and you can do that. You don't need the spirit of god to do that, but love your enemies. Do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back, then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the most high. Here we go. Because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Be merciful just as your father is merciful. That's That's it, isn't it? Motivation and definition, soil and fruit, the kindness of god to ungrateful sinners like us. And once we're planted in that, our lives will begin to display the same thing. Not just tolerance, tolerance, acceptance with a crowd of like minded people, but the real stuff.
Which speaks and which commits and which shows itself in a thousand different ways. Even to the ungrateful and to the enemies. If we are going to see god cultivate this fruit in our lives live at the foot of the cross. Plant yourself in the same soil where the blood of Christ fell. That is where it grows.
But once it's been planted and once we've got the right soil, once we've come to know the kindness of god in the gospel, what is the fruit gonna look like in our own lives. How does Galatians help us with that? Well, here's a few examples. So the first point is the soil of kindness, where does it grow Secondly, the fruit of kindness is always practical. The fruit of kindness is always practical.
Let's look back at Galatians chapter 5 and verse 6, second half of verse 6. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value, The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Verse 13 of chapter 5 You, my brothers and sisters were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather serve 1 another humbly in love. Chapter 6 verse 2, carry each other's burdens. And in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ chapter 6 verse 10.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people. Especially to those who belong to the family of believers. And so you can see again, this is not just something that Paul commanded This is something he lived. Notice that he's writing to them, even that is an expression of kindness, isn't it? He's heard the report and he's taking the time to craft a letter.
He actually lost sleep over this church He fears that he may have wasted his time. He can't cope with the idea that after beginning so well, they would drift back. Why? Because he's kind. In other letters, we find him sending people and resources, trying to raise money for other churches, taking a beating so that they might thrive.
Why does he do all of that? Because kindness is practical. There's an amazing illustration of this in the book of James. Do you remember this? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
If 1 of you says to them, go in peace, keep warm, well fed, but does nothing about their physical needs. What good is it? No good. I mean, think about it. Firstly, Those are the things they can't do.
They have no clothes or daily food. And so to bring that again to their attention, and to say, keep warm and well fed is just cruel. He's just reminding me that I don't have those things. At least bless me in some other way, know, why'd you why'd you have to bring that up again? But secondly, a link to this point, if this person is not willing to help, why say it?
And the answer must be so that they can sound concerned. They want people to hear and get the impression that they are kind, but they have no intention of lifting a finger. And in the context of James, that's dead faith. Or in the context of Galatians, it's the work of the sinful nature, it's selfish ambition. And so this is a challenge, isn't it?
Again, We don't need the holy spirit to say keep warm and well fed. Anyone can say it, but we do need it for the real fruit. The gospel centered word and action, practical expression of kindness. The fruit of kindness is always practical. Thirdly, the fruit of kindness shows no favoritism.
The fruit of kindness shows no favoritism. Let's go to Galatians 2 and verse 9 to 11. James Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars gave me and Barnabus the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the gentiles and they to the circumcised, both groups to be involved in this mission. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor.
The very thing I had been eager to do all along. Gospel kindness shows no favoritism. God doesn't work like that. He shows his kindness to all kinds of people, to the rich and the poor, to the able, and the disabled to the Jews and the gentiles. And so if our kindness isn't like that, If our kindness doesn't extend to people regardless of who they are, is it the real thing?
I was looking at the, the society for the protection of the unborn, newsletter, this this week. And, on on on it, they were reporting that, that abortion activists are funding at the moment. Lots of teenagers to come over from the Republic of Ireland to England to have their abortions and then to send them home. And, as you read the arguments that these people are setting forth for why they're doing this. It's in the name of kindness.
In fact, the word they actually use is helping. We've we've helped a number of teenagers to access our abortion services in recent years. But who is being helped there? And who is actually being shown kindness? Is it to the teenager who's being shipped over?
And put through that and then sent home. Is it kind to her? Is it kind to the baby? The most vulnerable member of society? Is it is it kind to is it kind to them?
Well, I was also reading that they're now pushing some of these senior, professors professors in some of these organizations are are pushing for DIY abortions now. And, what they're saying is that they want the medications and the pills which you need to have an abortion and are only, dispensed currently through medical professionals. They want those to be available at home. So the women don't have to go through the trauma of going to a hospital, but rather can actually take the pills, themselves at home what what kind of trauma is that gonna cause, somebody? It's it's just amazing.
Is that is that kind to women? Is it kind to the to the child? In another article, same website, a 42 year old Canadian man chap called mister Foley with a brain disorder, has been forced to live in hospital for 2 years after his home care provider abused him. I've been given the wrong medication. I've been provided food where I have got food poisoning.
I've had workers fall asleep in my living room. Burners and appliances are left on constantly. There's been a fire, and I have been injured multiple times during exercises and transfers said mister Foley. But when I reported these things to the agency, I would never get a response. And it's interesting because mister Foley apparently is now suing for the right to set up his own health care team, a request that has been denied multiple times.
And according to his statement, the only 2 options that have been offered to him have been a forced discharge from the hospital to work with the agencies that have failed him already or medically assisted death. That that is astonishing. Here is a man who complains about abusive care and is offered euthanasia as an option as if that is a kindness and not more abuse That's not the kind thing to do, is it? That's not what he would really want. You know people say that?
It's the kind thing to do. Discrimination against the most vulnerable. Talks about kindness, but only for certain people. Or Christians. I was remembering how Tim Faron, the ex, liberal Democrat leader was treated, when he, when he was at the head of the party.
If you saw some of those interviews, that he had to go through in the name of kindness to the nation who deserved to know what he thinks about gay sex. That they they were crude. They were vicious. It was discrimination. Certainly not.
The kind of tolerance and acceptance that those chat shows claim to be about. So we just need to keep our ears open to that. We hear of kindness in the world, but dig a bit deeper, and it only belongs to certain people. It is not for all types. And of course, we as well need to be careful of that kind of thing, don't we?
Because if we're honest, we can be selective with our kindness. Isn't that right? It's easy to concentrate on those we like. On those who can repay us somehow, maybe not financially, but perhaps they could bring us up a level. Perhaps they can make us a little bit more popular in the general public opinion.
And in doing so, we might pass over those. Who do need our kindness, but offer very little in terms of repayment. Gospel kindness doesn't show favoritism. These, but not these. Those, but not those.
Go to the gentiles and to the Jews, go to the rich, but remember the poor, the very thing that I was eager to do. Gospel kindness shows no favoritism. But fourthly, the fruit of kindness loves the truth. The fruit of kindness loves the truth. Let's go back to Galatians 1.
I've seen it already verse 9. As we have already said, so now I say again, if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under god's curse. Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of god? On the surface, It doesn't seem very kind, does it, that statement. But when we consider what is at stake in the gospel, how can it not be kind?
If we trust Jesus and we know him to be the precious treasure of heaven the only way for sinners to be made right with their god. And we love people. If that combination of love for Christ and love for others is at work within us. We won't be happy when others reject him in favor of a lie. I remember an old, illustration that I was given soon after I became a Christian about a medicine cabinet.
And, you know, it's only designed to make 1 point. We can probably pick holes in it, but I think it's pretty good. Let's let's say you've got a child with an illness and, and you know what the child got, you know the medicine that they need, you have it in your cabinet. But instead of bringing it to them and, administering it to them in their need, you take them to the medicine cabinet, open the doors and say, don't let me force your hand, you choose. What would you like?
You don't need to be a Christian to understand that's a bad idea. And as I say, look, we, you know, There's probably holes in the illustration, but it makes its point well, doesn't it? We need to tell people that everything else is poisoned to your soul. Jesus will save you. That is a kind thing to do.
You see, this is right, isn't it? If we if we know that on judgment day, people outside of Christ will be condemned to hell for all eternity and it doesn't move us in some way given who we are and the opportunities that we've got to share the truth with them We've probably spent too long under the UV lights. Don't impose your truth, be kind, don't challenge, let each to their own, don't be unkind. That's not that's not gospel kindness. Gospel kindness cares about the honor of Jesus, and it cares about other people, and therefore it cares about the things they believe.
That's the fourth thing. Gospel kindness cares about the truth. But fifthly and linked to this, the fruit of kindness is grieved when Christians walk away. It's the fifth thing. The fruit of kindness is grieved when Christians walk away.
Chapter 4 and verse 9 to 11. But now that you know god or rather are known by god, How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You're observing special days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
So this is really interesting because because outwardly, the Galatians were becoming more religious. Special days, Jewish customs, circumcision perhaps, and to some, that would look like a step forward. Look how serious they've become. Look how religious they're becoming, but not Paul. He knows that a step forward into religion is a back step away from Jesus.
And it was seriously upsetting. And his response is a lesson in kindness. When we see brothers and sisters moving away from Jesus. Making decisions which from what we can tell will harm their walk with the spirit it cannot be kind to ignore it. It's tempting to ignore it.
It is tempting because most of us don't like conflict. We'd rather not have tough conversations with people about their spiritual lives. It's tempting because We don't want to feel like we're imposing ourselves on other people. It's tempting because we want people to think well of us And if we just approve of what they do, then they will. But is it kind to leave it?
Now look, of course, there is a way to try and help people which is very unkind. And there is a way of saying the right thing in a very hurtful way. And that is not the fruit we see here. But the point is Paul was grieved when he heard the church were moving away from Jesus. He was angry.
He was confused. He was perplexed and what did he do? He picked up his pen and he got up his paper and he wrote to them. Because he cared. Kindness is grieved when Christians start walking away.
That's number 5 6 and last. The fruit of kindness, like all of them, is slow growing. The fruit of kindness like all of them is slow growing. That's what we learned from Galatians 5, isn't it? We've seen it every week.
This fruit grows in the context of battle. It grows in a war with the sinful nature. It grows over time. Do you know, I was looking, it takes Google, naught 0.49 seconds to provide you with 35600000.0 websites about kindness. In half a second, you can access vast quantities of information from all over the world about kindness.
It is amazing. The power in a smartphone used to require warehouses full of computers, but now it fits into a chip the size of my fingernail And in half a second, I can access all the world can tell me about kindness. So why in this age does it take so long to grow the fruit of kindness? Wouldn't we be more effective if of as Christians if the spirit produced this in naught 0.49 seconds in our lives. Wouldn't we make more of a difference?
Wouldn't we be more useful in the world? If I, honestly, if I had this fruit in naught 0.49 seconds, I could go out of here tonight as a faultless husband. Absolutely perfect. Kind in all of my interactions with my wife. I could go out of here as a spotless neighbor, perfectly kind to them, saying hard things where I need to always in a kind way.
Bringing them the gospel in creative and effective ways, always in a kind way. It would be brilliant. I'd be I'd be a stunningly kind witness. I'll be kind to every person. Isn't that what God wants?
Why can't that happen to me in naught 0.49 seconds? John Stott, in his book, fulness and Freedom says this. Understanding the gradualness of god's work should make us more active in our collaboration with the spirit in his fruit growing. It should make us more watchful over our sowing if we care about reaping a good crop, and it should make us more disciplined in our habits of public and private devotion so that by these, we may grow in grace and the fruit of the spirit may swell and ripen in us. Fruit bearing is a gradual process, which is not meant to encourage laziness or to lower our expectations or to annoy us, but to encourage us to keep in step with the spirit every day.
It takes time. Takes time. Why? So that we can learn to walk closely with our father. Not just for naught 0.49 seconds.
But for the rest of our days. The reason it takes a long time is so that we might grow with our father in daily dependence upon him. Seeking his help to grow this wonderful fruit of kindness. So there we go. Scatching scratching the surface really.
I'm sure, but I hope you can see how attractive this is. I hope you desire this. It's beautiful, isn't it? That we want god to cultivate this in our lives. I think I think we do.
You see, let's imagine just as we close. 2 Christians. Okay? You got 2 Christians. 1 of them has many gifts very obviously.
But in their presence, you sense a lack of kindness and patience and love. Maybe they go on about experiences that they've had that you haven't. Or there's another person also without many gifts, but they operate in a different way so that when you're with them, you're just reminded of the kindness and the aroma of Christ. In the end, whose company do we wanna be in? We know the answer.
Let's pray. Let's take a minute or 2 just to pray about some of the things that we've read and learned from god's word. Father, we praise you for the kindness that you have shown us in Jesus Christ, a kindness that was even willing to take on flesh to come to live a perfect life to die as soon as death in our place to save us and to redeem us. Thank you for your ongoing patient kindness with us. Please, we pray, would you cultivate this fruit in our lives in all of its forms to the glory and praise of your name, amen.