Micro-Sermon: Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Kindness is one of those words that, in the Greek, has a layered sense. The word for kindness has the sense of moral excellence. But it also carries a sense of being useful as well being gentle. So how can one be upright, helpful, and gentle at the same time?

To be kind isn’t to simply be non-confrontational or approachable. It means to be willing to help in ways that aren’t abrasive and model the love Christ showed to the world. To be kind isn’t merely an an attitude; it’s an action that reveals grace in tangible, practical ways.

The movie Pay It Forward depicts the very spirit behind kindness. In the movie, a young boy changes the world around him by showing small but impactful, unassuming but exemplary acts of compassion. And then that spirit inspires others to do the same. A church in Cincinnati tried to put that same spirit into practice and it became their lifeblood, as “servant evangelism” transformed their congregation.

Kindness can be as simple as tucking an extra $10 into the cashier’s hand and asking them to apply that to the next person in line’s bill. But kindness doesn’t require a big budget either. Helping someone carry a large object they can’t manage on their on, or mowing a feebler neighbor’s lawn are great ways to show kindness.

Of course, worldly kindness is something others do often with expectations of reciprocity. They want to benefit from something from you later. But when done in Jesus’ name, kindness is freely given, just like all God’s gifts. No strings attached. Kindness can pave the way for people to regard you with trust, even potentially open the door for a hearing about our Lord’s love for them. But even then, such reactions aren’t mandatory. The godly love behind kindness means showing kindness for that person’s sake. Being kind as an expression of Jesus’ love is sufficient. If it produces fruit in terms of that person’s openness to the Good News later, so much the better.

A timely way to show kindness is to get involved in St George’s Food Pantry. Right now, our Food Pantry is staffed by and large with people outside our parish rolls. This is wonderful! But we’d love to see more faces that call our church home lending a hand as able. We also have other volunteer opportunities as well with care of the grounds, altar guild, and streaming tech operation. Be kind and lend a practical, gentle hand of love.

Gracious Savior, whose kindness to us is seen in the loving care you show to all, and the gifts of grace you grant all who trust in you: form us to be kindly affectioned to all that the world may see your love expressed in your people. Amen.

Micro-Sermon: Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness

Micro-Sermon: Fruit of the Spirit – Patience

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

During my Freshman year of college, a prayer group I was a part of in our dorm all decided we needed more patience. So we prayed for patience. Next thing you know, we are all bogged down with so many responsibilities, we were at our wits’ end. What we neglected to realize is that patience is not gift; it’s a fruit.

Patience is not a feeling we muster in order to handle tough or busy times. It is a virtue that, like a muscle, is strengthened through use. We aren’t given patience so much as develop patience over time.

Of course, the Holy Spirit dwells within us and is ready to give us strength and consolation during times that try us. So with divine strength and joyful, hopeful attitude we can face tough times more easily, producing the fruit of patience to have on hand down the line.

Think of those proverbial old sailors or actual long-time military veterans you know. They often have developed a kind of inner strength over time that allows them to face new challenges as they arise. Similarly, those of us who travel faithfully alongside Jesus, who’ve face many a spiritual conflict with some success, we can draw on those resources of patience the Spirit has exercised in us when new trials come along.

So if you’re feeling weak in the face current challenges, check your spiritual health. See if there is already patience from prior spiritual victories that have built up a reserve to face what you’re facing now. If you sense your patience is insufficient to the task at hand, then pray for Jesus to strengthen you and grant you a sense of peace that surpasses understanding so you can develop the virtue, the fruit of patience. Be hopeful, for the Lord is working in you to bring about his good and perfect will.

Lord of all hopefulness, let the fruit of patience emerge in me to face the challenges of this day, and where I am lacking, strengthen and encourage me by your Spirit as I rest in your changeless love. Amen.

Micro-Sermon: Fruit of the Spirit – Patience

Micro-Sermon: Fruit of the Spirit – Peace

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

“Peace for our time,” is what Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared after ceding territory that Nazi Germany conquered in the run-up to WWII. It was a presumptuous statement (and a bad diplomatic precedent, as we all know now). So how is St Paul’s promise that the Holy Spirit might bring us peace any less presumptuous? When civil strife and foreign meddling via electronic media and hacking is on the increase, how can we legitimately promise the peace of God?

We need to keep some things in the forefront of our minds when we’re tempted to dismiss peace as an elusive pipe dream. It is important to remember two things about the peace that’s promised. First it’s multi-layered. Second, it is a peace that doesn’t originate in human effort.

The peace of God is multi-fold. There’s peace with him who dwells in our hearts. Then internal peace, serenity if you will. After that there’s external peace, the quelling of conflict. And those conflicts the Lord seeks to rectify can be among family and friends, in the community, the nation, or even global in scope.

But our Lord has a tendency to work from the inside out, from the smallest pebble outward into the ripples of influence in our closest relationships first before successive waves into other spheres. So the Spirit offers us the “peace that passes understanding”–a new relationship with the Triune God, no longer as enemies of heaven but adopted into the family of God. From there he works in our hearts and minds to bring us into that sense of peace and contentment that is not swayed by the ups and downs of this life. Then the Spirit begins renewing our relationships–in our homes, on our jobs, in our spheres of influence, and out into the broader world.

So when we see conflict, we must remember that not everyone is at the same place in their process of being brought into God’s peace. Plus, many people resist God’s peace. They reject his amnesty that frees us from sin and death through Jesus Christ. They create chaos to distract from their inner pains, thus rejecting any real peace within. They hold grudges with others, or others don’t do their part to move beyond forgiveness into real reconciliation. That’s simply the reality of living in a world where the compress of God’s redemption is offered, but not uniformly embrace or experienced.

That’s where the second reminder is handy. It is the Lord’s work, not ours. Were it a mere human endeavor, peace would never happen. As it is, we do see breakthrough moments where worries within and conflicts without pause, or even dissipate altogether. These serendipitous moments serve as a n encouragement to us when we might otherwise despair for ever seeing peace in our time. So be encouraged, the peace of heaven is a process and God’s in control of the process. There will be a day when all things a brought fully in the peace of Christ. Until then, let us cooperate with God’s grace to relish the fruit of peace wherever we find it.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Micro-Sermon: Fruit of the Spirit – Peace