In April, 2018, we started the series entitled Clothing Ourselves in the Character of Christ. For the next few months, we will be continuing this series that centers on Colossians 3:12 (NIV). We are focusing on one character trait per month.
I am encouraging you to spend time throughout this month, and the following three consecutive months, to reflect upon the character trait that is being highlighted, and to think about how you are exemplifying this character trait in your everyday life.
Be in AWE, be in PRAISE of SLOW. Avoid rushing through this exercise, as you THINK, MEDITATE, and PRAY as to how you can better demonstrate the character traits that are highlighted for us in Colossians 3:12.
This month we are turning our attention to the character trait of kindness.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12, NIV).
Reflection on Kindness:
Thinking of random acts of kindness that we can do towards others helps us to understand how God can use us on a daily basis to further His kingdom’s work. Kindness in deeds, words and actions are required, if we are to clothe ourselves with the kindness of Christ, and to set ourselves apart from the world, yet still being in the world. If God didn’t want us in the world we wouldn’t be here, we would be with Him in heaven. He does want us in the world to be His disciples, so that people who do not know Him can come to know Him.
Christ could have acted very arrogant, proud and entitled as He is the Son of the Almighty God. Yet His ministry here on earth was clothed in kindness. Christ provided us with so many examples in the Bible of the way in which He demonstrated kindness while ministering to others; the woman at the well; feeding the 5,000; and healing the man with leprosy. Following His example, if we believe in the promise of His eternal love for us, we can allow His kindness to flow through us moment by moment, hour by hour and day by day. For our acts of kindness to be genuine and sincere, we need to want to take off the old clothes of bitterness, anger and strife and put on the new clothes of kindness. It is a choice we must make, no one is forcing us.
A number of years ago, I came to a point in my life that I had become very down and discouraged by some events that had happened to me within a very short timeframe. I began to feel a sense of hopelessness, alienation and loneliness. In a nutshell, I was becoming bitter and resentful. This was a fairly new reaction for me, as I was normally able to bounce back, knowing God’s grace and mercy would see me through. However, at this particular point in my life I knew that I was becoming bitter and resentful towards people I loved, towards people whom I thought I could trust, and towards people whom I thought were my friends.
Circumstances occurred within a very short span of time where several people from different areas of my life had intentionally been very cruel and hurtful towards me. My attitude and outlook on life had changed. I had become very distrustful and suspicious of these people, often wary of my interactions with them. Thoughts and feelings of anger and resentment discoloured my interactions with others as well. The motives of people with whom I thought I could trust, were becoming self-centred, and feelings of entitlement had taken over. Sense was no longer common.
During this very tumultuous time in my life I was extremely miserable. I hated feeling this way, my thoughts were now becoming very bitter and resentful. Deep down to my very core, I disliked the person I was becoming. My appearance on the outside, looked very polished, but on the inside, I was a mess, due to the harbouring of resentment and unforgiveness towards people who had truly hurt me. They were intentionally hurting me, which made it all the more damaging. Pretending, playfully taunting me, mocking me with their evil ways.
Deep down, I knew that I could not continue to live like this, even if these people were going to continue to be evil, as these people were so-called friends and loved ones. Yes, I was a victim of cruel evilness, however, I was allowing evil to conquer over goodness in my own life. I was allowing them to win by giving them power! My true nature knew the behaviour and thoughts that I was exhibiting were going against my belief system that is founded on the Word of God. I decided I needed to crawl out of the hole that I had dug for myself. A hole so deep that crawling out would require a lot of perseverance. It was a long process of regaining joy and regaining power over my life. I was no longer willing to give my power away, as it was robbing me of a purpose-filled life.
How was I going to begin the journey to wellness and forgiveness, when I felt so discouraged? I decided to demonstrate random acts of kindness to people I did not know. It started slowly, where I would plan to do one or two a day. By forcing myself to be kind towards others, I slowing began to realize the potential of Christ’s love in my life. With much prayer, reading of scripture and meditating, I decided to take a further step towards healing. I decided to start to demonstrate random acts of kindness to the people who had hurt me. In the beginning it was a battle of wills, my carnal nature battling with the spiritual nature. However, I knew I needed to make the choice to act upon my positive thoughts, to go against my carnal nature and to clothe myself in the kindness of Christ. This is when true deliverance occurred and the control that I allowed them to have over me was broken.
I must admit, in the beginning, to perform random acts of kindness towards the people who had hurt me was extremely difficult to carry out. However, looking back now, I realize that my life will never be the same. I can honestly say that all because of the kindness of Christ through me, I am delivered and set free from the bondage that evil held over my life! It is when I knew and believed that part of my calling on this earth was to be kind to those who had deeply hurt me, this is when the true character of Christ shone through! Doing random acts of kindness to ALL has now become a part of my life. When I say ALL, I mean the people who are lovely to me and the people who are not so lovely to me. I still admit it is not always easy.
None of us are perfect on this earth, we will at times fail to live up to the perfect example of Christ’s character. So when this happens, do not allow discouragement to eat away at your soul, and to feel condemned, as Christ did not come to condemn. Your conscience is placed within you by God to allow you to recognize when you do something wrong. If you acknowledge these negative acts and ask God to forgive you, then you need to choose to carry on without feeling condemnation. Remember God directs your steps. He does not want you walking around feeling guilty or full of shame. God wants you to live a life of abundance, not having negative feelings that will weigh you down.
I encourage you that if you are feeling discouraged, try not to live a life filled with defeat, instead, carry on by continuing to offer up random acts of kindness to the souls you meet every day. Decide every day how you will clothe yourself in kindness. Who is in need of an act of kindness from you? How will you show kindness towards them? What was the result?