Posts Tagged kindness

As a Man Thinks in His Heart, So Is He = Pastor Brian Skar – Immanuel Baptist Church

Minot, ND
p2Romans Chapter 12 is one of the most remarkable and important chapters in all of Scripture.  It starts with a call for believers to live extraordinary lives as living sacrifices and to conform not to the world but be transformed by the Spirit into instruments of God’s will.  Then Paul goes on to encourage us to discover, hone and put to use our spiritual gifts.

The last half of the chapter, starting with verse 9 is an exhortation to embrace love in its greatest and purest form.  It is a call to humility and service and forgiveness.  And then verse 18:  “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with all.”

Peace is included in the list of the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.  Peacemakers are counted among those who are blessed in the Beatitudes.  Now, there is an inner peace, “the peace that passes all understanding,” but that’s not the peace of the above passages.  Having that inner peace certainly makes it easier to live a life seeking inter-relational peace as well.

So if a desire for living in peace with others is one of the primary Christian virtues, why do Christians have such a reputation of belligerence.  We like to say it is because we are taking strong stands on morality and defending our faith.  But in my experience, many Christians just like to do battle.  They like the confrontation. They like to stick it to those who oppose them.  Perhaps they are even sold on the lie that wrath confrontation is profitable for the Kingdom.

Many Christians honestly believe “If we can just punish those sinners enough, they will see the light and repent and convert.”  But both experience and common sense teach that such a strategy never really works.  Coercion is not the Biblical means for bringing people to the Lord.  The adage “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still” is an absolute truth.

So if we are to be peacemakers rather than strife mongers, where do we start.  First, we have to change our minds.  We have to believe in our hearts that what the Bible has to say about this is the truth.  Second, we have to change our words.  Jesus taught us in Matthew 15:11 that it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person.  In Matthew 5:22 Jesus give a harsh warning to those who hurl insults.  Paul warns about the dangers of foolish joking and crude talk in Ephesians 5:4.   Earlier in Ephesians 4:31, he admonishes believers to put away all forms of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice.

If we can replace the malice in our words with kindness, it will not be long before our hateful actions will turn to acts of love.  That’s where we should live.  That’s what will truly profit the kingdom of God.  Quoting Publius Syrus:  “Speech is the mirror to the soul; as a man speaks, so is he.

Tags: , , , , , ,

That We May Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves – Glenn Hinson* – A Prayer

Crescent Hill Baptist Church                                                 September 7, 2008

O God, we know it’s presumptuous to pray.

Yet we must, for you have commanded it, and we can’t face life without it.

We know, too, why you have commanded it.

Not just because we need it, but because you’ve fallen in love with us and can’t   get along without us, Mad Lover that you are.

You put yourself on the spot when you did it, you know, and now here we are, coming just as we are, to put before you our “souls’ sincere desires.”

What is our soul’s sincere desire?

We can’t really put it into words because so many other thoughts have come in

and taken control of our lives, but here are some of the ways we’ve learned to express it:

–We want to do your will, O God, not just our own.

–We want to obey your commandments and instruction rather than go our selfish ways.

–Or, as the Apostle Paul said it, we want to love our neighbors as ourselves,

which sums up the Law in its entirety.

We can’t hear ourselves say those words, though, without recognizing that we have failed to live them and need to ask your forgiveness.  Forgive us, O God,

–When we do not love our neighbors as ourselves.

–When we fail to consider how our desire for comforts and conveniences causes hurt to people in poorer nations.

–When we let the chasm between rich and poor in our nation and between nations grow and grow and grow without protest and effort to change.

–When we let our busyness and distractedness keep us from being “good Samaritans” to people in a ditch by the side of the road.

Your loving kindness and infinite patience alone can assure us that you forgive us, but we know that your grace impels us to renewed resolution to love our neighbors like you love—without partiality and without limit.  And we know that your love alone can transform us and energize us to love our neighbors as we have never loved before.

In humility, then, we gather here in your presence, O God, to plead “that your love may grow more and more in us in understanding and in every sensitivity, so that we may have a sense of things that really matter, in order that we may be pure in heart in the day of Christ and filled with the fruit of righteousness that redounds through Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God” (Phil 1:9-11).

As we bow in the presence of you “whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere,” we lift up to you a few of our concerns for neighbors:

–Our beloved neighbors from Myanmar and the families they have had to leave behind.

–Our neighbors of all ages in Crescent Hill Baptist Church who wrestle with life’s vulnerabilities.

–Our neighbors in the city of Louisville and the state of Kentucky in their efforts to provide adequate sustenance for the whole body politic in a time of economic        stress.

–Our neighbors in our nation and all the nations of the earth in their earnest  search for justice, freedom, and peace.

–Especially our neighbors everywhere who suffer the ravages of war—the deaths, the famine, the loss of livelihoods and homes, the devastation.

O God, we pray that you will give us

–eyes to see who are our neighbors,

–ears to hear their cries,

–hearts to love them as you love us,

–minds to understand how to put love into action,

–and hands to do what our hearts and minds tell us.

Now we make bold to pray the prayer our Lord Jesus taught us to pray, saying,

“Our Father . . .”

Glenn Hinson spoke at the Hamrick Lectures at First Baptist Church of Charleston, SC in 2002. He is a renowned Biblical scholar and seminary professor. This prayer is used with his permission.

 

Tags: , , ,

Twelve Days of Christmas – Follow Through – Eight

My eighth of the extended Twelve Days of Christmas came before August 17th which is the date I have chosen for each month because it is my wife’s birthday and St. Patrick’s Day. I am happy to report that I did follow through and it does feel good.

I have marked my 2015 calendar for each of the twelve months as a way of extending the wonderful spirit of Christmas throughout the entire year. My hope is that others will join in the spirit and make it a wonderful time for all of us. It does not need to be a grand gesture. Just make it something simple. Something you will do. If it becomes over complicated we will not do it. It is simply a way of sharing. The book, The Killer App., offers many ideas for taking our faith into the workplace in a non-threatening manner. An easy one is to share a book you like or find helpful by lending or giving it to someone. Another one is to share a vital contact with someone else. Get permission first.

I am writing this as a part of my accountability to myself to remind me to follow through. We all have great intentions, but follow through is always the test. Please join me as we go through the year. Help brighten someone’s day.

Tags: , , ,

Twelve Days of Christmas – Seven

My seventh of the extended Twelve Days of Christmas came before July 17th which is the date I have chosen for each month because it is my wife’s birthday and St. Patrick’s Day. I am happy to report that I did follow through and it does feel good.

I have marked my 2015 calendar for each of the twelve months as a way of extending the wonderful spirit of Christmas throughout the entire year. My hope is that others will join in the spirit and make it a wonderful time for all of us. It does not need to be a grand gesture. Just make it something simple. Something you will do. If it becomes over complicated we will not do it.

I am writing this as a part of my accountability to myself to remind me to follow through. We all have great intentions, but follow through is always the test. Please join me as we go through the year. Help brighten someone’s day.

Tags: , , ,