Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Kindness Softens Hearts

To be kind is to be selfless. A friendly, generous, and considerate soul reveals a kind disposition. Kindness conveys compassion, gentleness, and understanding. Kindness is a virtue. 

There seems to be an insufficient amount of kindness in our world. Tolerance and patience are rarely exemplified while arrogance and hatred intensify. Increased evil amplifies the voices of judgment. The hate-filled offenders are wrong, but are those who judge them any better?

The city of Rome looked much like today. The church in Rome received a letter from the Apostle Paul confronting the growing wickedness in society. Not only were men and women committing heinous acts, those who considered themselves innocent passed judgement upon evildoers. Paul challenged those who condemned others with a question about kindness. He said:

Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance (Romans 2:4)?

Because he had experienced the kindness of his gracious Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, Paul understood that children of God were to represent the essence of God. He believed a godly life could turn sinners away from their evil ways into the arms of the Savior. Being filled with inspiration from God, Paul wrote powerful words to the Romans. He hoped to influence a change in society.

Paul knew conversion was possible because he himself had reaped the benefits of the kindness of God. Previously known as Saul, he determined to destroy believers of The Way by murdering them. On his way to kill Jesus followers, he experienced personal transformation after meeting the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). 

Being an educated man, Paul immersed himself in learning all about the life of Jesus on earth. Adding to his conversion account were many other transformations. Surely he must have known about the story of the woman caught in adultery and those who condemned her (John 8:1-11).

The story goes like this……

So Jesus was teaching an assembly of people at the temple when a gang of scribes and Pharisees dragged in a woman and set her right down in the middle of everyone. She had been caught in the act of adultery and they planned on stoning her according to the law of Moses. But first they wanted Jesus’ opinion on the matter—what would He do and say about an adulterous woman. They actually wished to trap Jesus so they could accuse Him of breaking the law. 

Picture the woman’s shame as she stood not only in front of accusers, but also in the presence of Jesus with His followers. Her disheveled appearance must have heightened the embarrassment. With her head hung low and shoulders slumped, she lost hope amidst the noisy chatter. She expected to die. Then.....

Silence. Probably could have heard a pin drop. Jesus said nothing. He only stooped to write something on the ground.  

The scribes and Pharisees broke the silence with their persistent questions. Jesus finally stood up. He looked directly at them and said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (v 7)

A hush descended upon the crowd. No words. Only deafening silence as Jesus again crouched down to write something on the ground. 

Surprisingly, one by one, each of the woman’s accusers walked away. Slowly she looked up and saw only Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (v 10)

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (v 11)

Compassionate, forgiving, generous, kind—Jesus poured His grace into this scandalous woman with one request. Go now and leave your life of sin. 

“I don’t condemn you,” He said. “Now go and leave your sins behind.”

Can you imagine the freedom she must have felt when Jesus offered love and forgiveness instead of condemnation? Scripture doesn’t say, but I believe Jesus’ kindness led her to repentance. 

What about the woman’s accusers? Did they feel shame when confronted by Jesus with their own sins? Do you think they stopped to consider the worth of the kindness of God? Is it possible that the encounter with Jesus ended their moments of being judge and jury? 

What about the Romans who received Paul’s letter? Did they heed the words of Paul about the kindness of God leading to repentance? Have I? Have you? 

Whether you are an accuser or the accused, God offers His kindness to you. With love and grace, He stands ready to forgive you of all your sins. Will you allow His kindness to soften your heart and lead you to repentance?

A desperate world needs to experience the kindness of God through you.  

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 (NASB)

For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  Matthew 7:2-4 (NASB)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)

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