This is the fifth post in our blog series by Karis Women on Galatians 5:22, check out the rest of the series here.
Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?” - Romans 2:4
I first would like to share several ways that I have received KINDNESS through families from Karis. Every time our Missional Community meets at my home, Timothy, Sarah, Janice, Liz and Joseph scrub my kitchen clean and tidy up the messes made. They ask me how I am doing, pray with me when I’m melting down and babysit my children, over and over again. Countless times my friend Maureen has watched my girls. She has bought me post-pregnancy clothes when I didn’t have time to (and didn’t even ask!). She’s dropped off everything from toys to school supplies to food. I could go on forever with stories of so many people showing me kindness.
But why are these people caring about me, treating me with kindness? I think, and I am positive they would echo, that it’s because they have first been shown kindness.
We are shown kindness in many ways, but primarily through the gracious gift of Jesus becoming sin for us and dying the death we deserved. We only are asked to believe and repent–to turn to God. It’s a process that happens over and over in our lives as Christians. When God calls us into relationship with Him, this process turns us into the likeness of Jesus. But if we don’t respond to His kindness with repentance (which for me may look like more thankfulness and loving others), I don’t think we are getting the message of the cross.
We have an example from Luke 19, the story of Jesus calling Zacchaeus. Here’s this jacked-up thief, a joy-killer with no friends. He can’t help himself- it’s obvious he cares most about money and having stuff more than impressing anyone. But then he sees Jesus from far off, and I’m sure he’s thinking to himself, “Hey i heard about this guy! I heard he is awesome and good and I want to see for myself.” He’s so anxious to see him that he jumps in a tree to do so. He just wants to be a bystander. But, if you can imagine it, Jesus looks up and calls him by name and asks to have dinner with him! It’s been so long since Zacchaeus had a real friend, and here is the most important person in the universe asking to come into his home and eat a meal with him. It’s through this kind interaction that Zacchaeus sees the sin in his heart. He repents to Jesus and immediately is moved to go make things right with his neighbors.
Zacchaeus encountered grace, the kindness of God. He’s so stirred by this that he is immediately moved to action. Jesus said to him, “Salvation has come to this man, for he is a son of Abraham, for the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” He’s invited into the fold of God. My guess is that Zacchaeus’s ministry started there. His act of repentance heralded the work of Christ in his heart and no doubt was instrumental in sinners coming to Christ. Christ’s kindness towards Zacchaeus was a reminder that His kindness was indeed for ANY person who believes and repents of their sin. And Zacchaeus didn’t just make things right with his accounts, he gave over and beyond to those he stole from.
So, what if I continue receive grace and kindness and never respond and love others, the way others have shown me kindness? I will lose the joy of becoming more like my loving Savior. We, like Zacchaeus have some really timely ways to reach out to those in our communities with the same kindness we have been shown. Some of the people we are surrounded by, are yet to come into God’s family.
If you are looking for a way to show kindness to others in need, you don’t have to go far! Columbia is home to refugees, children in foster care and others in crisis. We even have women in our church ministering to women in the sex trade industry, loving on women who have been hurt and marginalized. With all the ways to show kindness, I want to repent of apathy in the face of the gracious kindness I have been shown by serving and loving in kindness myself. There are women in Karis already doing this, and I want to encourage those who feel God is stirring their hearts to do the same.