Our hearts are broken.
Many of us wonder where God is when horrific events occur like the shooting in Uvalde, Tx. Nothing makes sense of such tragedies. If God is good and kind, why does he allow this hate? Why does death still seem to have so much power? Isn’t a good God in control?
Those who don’t know God use tragedies as reason to hate him or deny him. Even those of us who love him find ourselves trying to answer the question, why. I don’t have any conclusive answers. And as a person with no direct connection to anyone who lost a child in that shooting, I know I must be very careful with my words because even though I haven’t experienced anything like this grief, my own heart has felt the sting when well meaning Christians have given their “Christianese” answers.
The way we react to this atrocity speaks volumes, and the world is listening.
The Paradox of Kindness
As Christians, we like theology wrapped up in a box with a bow. We like black and white answers, but God is not like that. God doesn’t fit in a box. The Bible is filled with paradoxes–things that seems contradictory. One of those paradoxes is: God is in control but man has freewill.
A very good, loving and kind God created humans and gave them the ability to choose to be good or bad. In fact, he warned the first couple, Adam and Eve, not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because he knew how very dangerous the responsibility of this knowledge would be. In his kindness, God gave them freewill and one command. Their disobedience resulted in death even though they did not die after the first bite of the forbidden fruit.
It was after the taste of that fruit, however, that we witness the first murder in the Bible. Cain killed Abel. How Eve must have grieved her own disobedience as she held her dead son. Though God is in control, man can choose right from wrong, death or life. We all have a choice.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.Deuteronomy 31:15-20
Choose Life -Changing Kindness
The context of this scripture passage is God’s command to the Israelites. I’ve always read this command as a threat of sorts, but the truth is when you do follow the ways of this world, a death in your soul does take place. The world’s values eat away at morality. The difference between good and evil become distorted. This has happened to our country. We’ve heard it said before, but the push to remove Christian faith out of public schools has taken a toll. We’ve got to choose life and that life starts with Jesus–the ultimate demonstration of the life changing kindness of God.
The Kindness of God in the Person of Jesus
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Col. 1:15. Friends, if you want to know God, read about Jesus. If you want to know what God likes, desires, gives, demands, extends . . . .His merciful, gracious, holy, wise, and loving character, read the gospels in the Bible. Get to know Jesus. He was Kindness in flesh.
God’s kindness is powerful. It changes things. Redeems, makes whole, and gives new life. Yet His kindness doesn’t just provide fire insurance or that we will never be harmed in this world. But His kindness takes up residence in us the minute we surrender to His love.
God’s Kindness Changes Us
His Spirit begins to change our responses, our feelings, and our temperament. “But the fruit of the Spirits is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22-23.
The truth is, in our own strength, we really can’t always be kind. We need help. We need Him. Our world needs Him. Yes, we need some changes in gun regulation, but that doesn’t change hearts. People need Jesus. Our world won’t change until God’s kindness changes us.
The Hebrew word for the Fruit of the Spirit of kindness is chrestos. This word is less about action and more about the softening of a heart. Spiros Zodhiates wrote: “It is the grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would have been harsh and austere.” This kindness is not the action of kindness but the softened heart behind the act.
27 Scriptures on Chrestos/Kindness
This heart- kindness of the Lord is foundational to our faith. It carries us through the storms of life, and saves us from our sins, yet His heart-kindness is not only for our benefit. His kindness changes us for those around us. What a wonderful attribute and promise of God to study this month. Gather your Bible, journal, and pen. Grab your favorite cuppa and light a candle. He is with you. Let His Word wash over the sharp edges smoothing and softening your heart for others.
I specifically chose kindness scriptures translated from chrestos because that is the promised fruit of the Spirit. I only found 27, but I have special prompts for the last three days of the reading plan. Here’s a peak at a four days and prompts:
Bible Reading Plan on Kindness that Changes Us
Day 1: 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
- I’m not sure Paul was explaining kindness with the second sentence in this verse, but if kindness is gracious, I do believe it includes humility and joy for the success of others. Comparison is a real battle for many of us that leads to envy. Did you ever think that it was unkind to envy someone? Write down the person’s name you envy and ask the Lord to soften your heart toward this person.
Day 2: Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
- When we think of kindness, we think of doing something tangible—like paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru. But this verse connects kindness with forgiveness. This is hard. Who do you need to forgive? Write a prayer asking for Holy Spirit to soften your heart so you can be kind and forgive this person.
Day 3: Luke 6:35
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
- This verse teaches us so much. It defines how to “love” our enemies and what kindness looks like. It also tells us why we should be kind. List the three reasons is gives and write a prayer.
Day 4: Colossians 3 :12-13
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
- We’re soaking in the topic of forgiveness again. Along with forgiveness, Paul commands to “bear with each other.” Who do you need to “bear with” or “hold up” today? Some people are easy to hold up because we like them, but others are not. If you’re struggling to bear with someone, write a prayer asking the Lord to reveal why.
Faith Fridays on Instagram
So . . . I’ve been doing a thing. Every Friday (almost) I study my Bible, put on my make-up :), and prepare to share a live message with my Instagram peeps. If you’d like to join me, I’ll be on at 9:00 AM ET. You might want to grab your Bible, journal, and pen, and of course something yummy to drink. This Friday we’ll talk some more about Chrestos and this kindness that changes us. Hope you can join me! Just follow me on the Gram, @wordsbyandylee. I’d love to have some non-creepy-guy new IG peeps.
I also have a YouTube channel that is filled with a ton of teaching I’ve done over the years. You can check out my latest one I just posted about Walking on the Waves During a Storm.