Our last post was tough. We talked about the unkindness that creeps into our hearts and relationships. My hope is that you invited the Lord to pry a bit into your spirit, to show you the unkindness that lives in your heart and make you ache to be different.
If you missed that post, you should read it before continuing with this one.
If you did read it, you know where we are going with this post.
Do you lash out with unkindness at your loved one? Is there a thorn stuck deep into your soul that irritates and tempts you to harbor bitterness?
Do you want to change that?
Changing from chronic unkindness, or rooted hatefulness, requires determined, habitual heart-work. And only our cooperation with the Holy Spirit as He applies the words of the Bible can begin to heal and correct our hearts. Fortunately, God did not leave us without help.
He gives us two very clear steps to take to move from unkindness to kindness in our hearts.
1. Kill Your Old-Self
2. Dress Your New-Self
These are found in Colossians 3.
We will get to them in a bit. But first, let’s realize that kindness is not an option, it’s a commandment. The cool thing about the commands of Jesus is that everything He commands, He empowers. He, through the Spirit gives us the ability to obey. These passages command things that we can do in His power. Take a look.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 2:3-5
Older women in the church are encouraged to instruct younger women to exhibit many good attitudes and do many good deeds. One of them is to be kind. The Lord expects mature believing women to help immature believing women to be kind. That most likely means that they know how to be kind themselves. It’s an expectation.
Before we get in a bind over this instruction to women, as if God singles women out, the Bible expects all of us to be kind. Take a look at this,
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26
This is not a suggestion but a command. Paul uses the word must to preface these requirements. It’s not an option, we must be kind. Here’s another pointed passage saying the same thing,
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
There’s nothing in this verse that gives us an option. It doesn’t say, be kind IF they are kind to you. It simply says, be kind. And then reminds us that God is our example in this.
So, let’s not argue that kindness is optional in certain circumstances. It isn’t. Jesus was always kind – even when He was angry, even when He was rebuking evil, even when He was telling the truth about religious hypocrites. He never left the boundaries of kindness. And neither do we have to go outside what is kind to do what is right.
There’s one passage I think that gives us a great step-by-step guide for overcoming unkindness. Follow these and kindness will start to rise in your heart. Your actions and reactions will then follow. Here’s the passage,
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:5-10
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-16
I’ll let you make a list of all the things you need to kill in your old-self.
One thing is sure, if you don’t kill them, they will create barriers to kindness. Anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lying are all sins of the heart that find outlet through our tongues. Kill these and kindness will rise.
I’ll also let you make a list of the things you need to give life to or put on.
The word here means to ‘clothe yourself in’. We put on these virtues like we put on clothes. When we kill and strip off the old garments and sinful ways, we need fresh clean attitudes and habits to replace them. Dressing your new-self is a daily practice.
The elements of this wardrobe seem pretty expensive and extremely out of our reach sometimes. Forgiveness is costly. Bearing with one another calls us to sacrifice a lot. Not to mention the price for loving, being patient, compassionate, and the other things in the list. We need help getting dressed and then living in our new clothes.
Like we said before, God doesn’t command without empowering. We can dress like this. And here’s how we do it.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:16-25
The way we keep Colossians 3 is to practice Galatians 5. Walk, be led by, live by, and keep in step with the Spirit. Then you will bear the fruit of the Spirit. You will have killed (crucified the flesh) the old-self and gotten dressed in the new-self.
You may ask, ‘how do I walk, be led by, live by, and keep in step with the Spirit’? Great question. Let’s tackle it in the next post.