Encouragement From The Word

Patience *and* kindness

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: …patience…” (Galatians 5.22, NLT).

I often end the Encouragement with the Scripture, but I decided to start with it this time, because, as of the time of writing, it is at the fore of my mind in a big way.

Let me tell you a story.

On Wednesday, late in the afternoon, I received an email from one of our national airlines, with whom we had booked a January holiday, indicating that a change to our itinerary had been made, and that I should call the airline about it.

So, after supper, I settled in for what I expected would be a bit of a wait.

Boy, did I underestimate that “bit”!

I was on hold with the airline for four and a half hours.  

Did I speak with someone?  Nope.  I hung up, because, according to the website, their customer service line closed at that time.

So I tried again on Thursday morning.  Another four hour wait.  Never spoke with a soul.

(Thankfully, I used my cell phone’s speaker mode, so I could accomplish important tasks while I waited, and waited, and waited!)

Yes, I signed up for a call-back, but the matter is a bit time sensitive, and the call-back is scheduled for nextWednesday.

I will keep trying, but even if I have to wait until next Wednesday’s call-back, I will do my best to be kind.

I will need to be kind, because I’m sure the problem is not the agent’s fault.  (Given my experience, I suspect there is but one agent taking calls!)  

That verse I cited earlier, along with saying that the fruit of the Spirit is patience, also says the fruit of the Spirit is “kindness”.  

Not coincidentally, I think, they are cheek-by-jowl.  We need to be patient and kind, because, well, these are characteristics of followers of Jesus who are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Patience and kindness do well to be together, because even when we manage to muster up enough patience in a situation like this, it sometimes takes all the energy we have and leaves little room for kindness.  But they are both important as part of our witness to the good news of Jesus.

Is this experience testing my patience and kindness?  Oh yeah.  But the power of the Holy Spirit at work in my life is greater than any issue with a vacation.  It has to be.

And I need to be attentive to that power…even when I’m on hold for a cumulative eight-and-a-half hours…so far.

Where could you exercise more patience and kindness, two of the fruit of the Holy Spirit? 

Encouragement From The Word

Kindness

There’s a meme floating around social media that has grown more popular through COVID times.  One variant of it says this:  “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Always be kind.”

Another says this:  “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Very warm and fuzzy indeed.  But what does it mean to be kind?

The dictionary refers to it as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.  Fair enough.  But when we remember that one of the fruit of the Spirit is kindness, that kicks it up a notch for followers of Jesus.

Anybody can be friendly, generous or considerate when they need to be, or want to be.

Followers of Jesus, who have the Holy Spirit living in them, are called to bear the fruit of kindness, which is on an entirely different level.  Consider what the apostle Paul wrote:  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4.31-32, NLT).

See what I mean?

Being kind means more than being nice.  There’s stuff to get rid of and stuff to appropriate.  Paul suggests that being kind involves being tender-hearted, and forgiving other people in the same way Jesus forgave you.

Now there’s a challenge.

The good news is you can do it, because if you follow Jesus, you have his Spirit in you, and his Spirit enables you to be able to forgive in his way as part of being kind.

Are you harbouring a grudge against anyone?  Today’s the day to let go and forgive.

That doesn’t mean what the other person did was right.  It doesn’t mean you will forget.  But it means you can release whatever was wrong into the merciful care of God, without taking it back.

You can do it.  If you follow Jesus, his empowering Spirit will help you.

Encouragement From The Word

Cauterized emotions

Perhaps, like me, you are finding that some people are equating physical distancing with emotional distancing.  And that’s a pity.

While it’s true that we need to keep our distance except among those with whom we live, that doesn’t mean we can’t exchange pleasantries with people we pass.

I live in a small community that has grown exponentially since we moved here almost 12 years ago.  I don’t mind growth; I think it can be good for a town to experience growth, and I certainly think it can be both a blessing and a challenge to the church when it does.  But since moving here, I have always spoken to, or at least smiled at, every person I’ve walked past on the sidewalk or on the streets where I walk.  I think it’s the neighbourly thing to do.

One of the things I’ve noticed in the past few weeks is that people are so concerned about Coronavirus that some are even avoiding eye contact, as if that somehow communicates the virus.

We can’t let the need for physical distancing cauterize our emotions.

Sure, we can’t hug people who don’t live under our roof right now, and as a hugger, that pains me.  But we can still be nice.

My wife was waiting, briefly, to go into a store earlier this week, and at the appropriate distance, she struck up a conversation with the attendant who was controlling the entrance.  This is an uncomfortable time for all of us, but why not remain human, and pleasant, in the process?

It may be a small and simple way you can communicate Jesus’ love in a season where there just might be more openness to it.

Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love.  He has kept me safe when my city was under attack” (Psalm 31.21, NLT).