2 Peter 1:9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. (NKJV)
The Apostle Peter goes on to say in the following verses that if we possess certain Godly qualities, not only will we be received “richly” into heaven, but we can also live a “stumble-free” life. The degree in which we live without stumbing is proportionate to the degree these qualities are present:
2 Peter 1:5-7 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. (NKJV)
Each of these qualities are not part of a sequential checklist but rather, are extensions of, and built upon each of the other characteristics listed in verses 5-7. Everything in Scripture is supernaturally arranged exactly as God would have it for His exact purpose including the order of these traits.
Brotherly kindness would appear to be a “simple” quality and yet it is listed in our spiritual building project after traits like virtue and godliness. Why?
Brotherly kindness represents a selfless nature
that prefers others over ourselves.
This is the exact opposite of our old nature that masterfully filtered everything in life through the mindset of personal advantage and “what’s in it for me”. As we cultivate this list of qualities we transform from being “me-centered” to “others-centered”.
New believers (or perhaps a not-so-new believer who has neglected God) builds upon their faith adding moral excellence and courage to their behavior. How do they know what virtue is? They know because they have diligently pursued Godly knowledge through a life of self-control, focusing their attention on the goal of Godliness from which they will not be swayed or deterred.
Through this life of self control and patience we become more Christlike, reverent and worshipful. The natural spiritual result of being more Christ-like is to serve others and instinctively look for ways to show kindness to those around us through which we demonstrate Christ’s kindess towards us.
Kindness is a defining Christian trait. When a person reaches a point where their continual, natural state of mind is to view every situation or person as a opportunity for kindness and good deeds, this person has truly moved into the realm of deeper Godliness.
For example, when a car stalls on the road in front of you, is your first reaction to figure out how to get around them as quickly as possible, or is your first reaction a concern for whether or not they need help? What’s the FIRST thought that pops in your head?
You’re walking through a cafeteria and someone in front of you drops a tray of food and that splatters like a hand grenade all over everything. Is your first instinct irritation because the food is all over your clothes and shoes? Or is your first reaction one of compassion for the embarrasment the other person is feeling, and an instinctive desire to help them clean up the mess?
Okay, how about this one: you’re on your way to CHURCH and an older couple is off the side of the road on an exit ramp laboring over a flat tire. What’s more, they are obviously of a lower income status and their car is an old “piece of junk”. What’s your first reaction? Worried about getting your hands dirty and your shirt sweaty? Worried the time you will “waste” when someone else will probably stop and help? Or is your first instinct without hesitation to pull over to offer help? Do you get out and timidly offer help hoping they will say “that’s okay, we got it”? Or do you get out of your car already rolling up your sleeves greeting them with “looks like you folks need some help”?
When we are focused on service and kindness
towards others we don’t have time to pursue sin!
The Lord seems to give plenty of object lessons to those who teach His Word. I teach a fairly large Sunday school group at our church and one morning a few months ago I was gearing up to present a “gem” of a lesson on kindness and serving others. As is my usual habit, I was up very early that Sunday morning going over my lesson at my office, then got in my truck to head to church.
On the way I saw what appeared to be a-not-very-well-off person, trying to carry his bicycle down a long stretch of road. I have to be honest and tell you that my first thoughts were “I need to get to church. I have a big class to teach. That guy can’t be doing anything really important. It’s early Sunday morning, he’s carrying a bicycle; it’s cold out and I don’t have my coat; He’s probably just some lazy guy who has all the time in the world on his hands and I’m a really busy important Sunday school teacher who’s time is very valuable”. (ouch, it hurts to admit that to you!)
I can imagine God was getting quite a chuckle from that situation because it was more than obvious that He arranged this scenario to prove to me that teaching about “kindness and service” is useless if you don’t actually do it! So I passed the guy and for about two blocks I tried to convince God that I really WAS a kind and serving person, I just didn’t have time to do it right now!
I had a Sunday school to teach!
I didn’t have time to help this guy who was probably in
this situation due to his own negligence anyway!
Can you say “H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E”?
After a couple of blocks, I finally obeyed the Lord and turned around. Come to find out, this young fellow was on his way to work. His car was broken down and he didn’t have the money to fix it. He was riding his bike several miles to work early each morning and he had blown out a tire. That’s why he was carrying his bike in the freezing cold and he still had about 4 miles to walk.
So I loaded him up, put his bike in the back of my truck and gave him a ride. I got to talk to him about his life and about the Lord. I was late to church, but I was right on time to do God’s will. And my lesson on kindness that morning was real, not theory.
Kindness brings the blessing of “feeling good” and feeling “right with God”. The other day a rather elderly gentlemen had lost a load of carpet remnants out of the back of his truck on a busy street. I was driving with my daughter as we came upon him and dozens of cars quickly detouring around him.
He was obviously physically incapable of picking up the carpet that had fell out, yet all these cars passed him in irritation because he was “in the way” and slowing them down. So we immediately stopped to help him. I’m a pretty strong fellow and its a good thing because it took all I could muster to heave that carpet back into his truck.
I didn’t get to speak to the gentleman much standing in the middle of this very busy street, and it was pretty hot out as well. But when I finished, through the sweat on his face, he said to me with tears in his eyes “you don’t know how much this means to me.” I told him that God did, and with that I was off.
Not only was this a wonderful teaching opportunity for my daughter to witness, but wouldn’t you know it, God threw in an extra blessing. While I was helping this kindly old man, my son’s bus passes by with him and his friends on it coming home from school. “Hey, that’s my Dad!”… and so my son witnessed a live lesson in “brotherly kindness” too along with his friends on that bus.
So I tell you those stories not to say “look what I did” but to give you personal testimony that kindness is a blessing that always pays huge dividends!
Never pass up a chance to be kind to others
and demonstrate God’s love.
The more you are tranformed into the image of Christ the less time you have to focus on yourself. Your mindset becomes one of sharing the gospel, serving and encouraging others and generally viewing every circumstance as an opportunity to be kind and helpful. The wonderful reality is that the more you experience this life of kindness, the more you will be blessed by it and the more you will want to experience it to an even greater degree! It is a truly heavenly “vicious cycle”.
Try it today. Look at every situation you encounter today and allow the Lord to reveal to you a way to show kindness. See if you don’t just feel closer to the Lord at the end of the day.
Kind and Holy God, You have shown us the Ultimate Kindness. Help us to transform ourselves into the image of Your Kind Son. Help us to know that when we are being kind we are bringing glory to You. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Is your natural reaction to a situation one of kindness? Do you view others as opportunities for showing love, service and kind deeds? Or do people irritate you? Examine the last couple of weeks. How many acts of brotherly kindness are you “guilty” of? Or is all your time spent serving your own needs?
Application: Quick irritation and easy annoyance are sure indicators of selfishness and a lack of brotherly kindness. If the circumstances and presence of other people “get in your way”, “slow you down” or “get on your nerves”, you need to ask the Lord to forgive you for this lack of brotherly kindness. Ask Him to begin to cultivating a spirit of kindness in you by giving you opportunities to show kindness.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?