Attitudes – Kindness, Gentleness

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Recently, I taught our Sunday Bible study class. We had been studying the Holy Spirit and had a lesson on the fruit that the Spirit desires to produce in us. I realized my fruit branch was lacking in a couple of areas.

Jesus speaks of being connected to the vine. In fact, He spends over half of John 15 with a visual, almost a parable. Picture a thick grape vine with many branches. In his example, he wants us to label the thick vine “Jesus” and one of the branches “me.”

  JESUS

  ME

Jesus said,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

So, I must cling to this main vine (Jesus)—remain in Him, abide, dwell in Him. We know what it is to dwell on a thought. Your mind keeps coming back to that thought over and over. That’s what He wants us to do with Him. Dwell on Him, draw strength from Him, gain wisdom from Him, search for what He desires in us.

There’s a gardener in the parable. We’re to label him “God.”

 God

In your mind, draw a pair of pruning shears in God’s hand.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

With these thoughts in mind, I looked at the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

 I tend to have strong opinions which is fine, but at times, I may express them in a way that negates my good reasoning. I engaged in a discussion with a young family member about tattoos and went on about the disadvantages. It came across with bitterness and heat. I realized that the “gentle” grapes in my cluster were looking pretty drawn up and dry.

Gentleness is not milk toast, “mamby-pamby” behavior. It is strength—but under control, coupled with kindness. So, I wrote a letter to this dear one, giving examples of times when she had painted certain colors or symbols on things but grew tired of them. An emblem may not be as dear to us after ten years. Why not paint it on paper, frame it, hang it on a wall and enjoy seeing it all the time? When it becomes tiresome or out of date, one can take it down, put it in a memory box, give it away, or throw it away. But if it is tattooed on you, it is there forever. 

Well, you get the idea. I apologized for my previous quick words and harsh attitude. Kindness and gentleness goes a long way. It produces plump juicy fruit.

If the Lord has to prune us, it may be time for some self examination.

~ Joyce ~

Frazzled in the Season

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

I found this very apropos writing in a little book of Christmas collections called “Christmas Joy.” It is an adaptation from I Corinthians 13 by Sharon Jaynes. I thought you would enjoy and appreciate it as the clock ticks down to Christmas.

LOVE, FIRST CORINTHIANS 13-STYLE

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family—I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozen of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my familyI’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family—it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ,  I have missed the point.

 

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love  is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of your way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break; necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust; but giving the gift of love will endure.

by Sharon Jaynes (www.sharonjaynes.com)

May you move into these final days with love, joy, anticipation, and be completely un-frazzled.

I look forward to my son and his family coming in from South Carolina and joining us along with my daughter and her family from here in Louisville. Seven delightful grandchildren and I’m not one bit prejudiced!

Merry Christmas to all.

~ Joyce ~

Fruit of the Spirit – KINDNESS

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

A friendly, elderly man plopped himself beside me today while we waited at Bob Evans for a table. He quickly engaged me in conversation and introduced himself as “Bob.” We covered the gamut in our 10-minute wait which included comments about having joy. “Not just happiness and having a good time,” Bob emphasized, “but joy inside.”

“A heart attitude,” I added. He agreed. I couldn’t resist mentioning that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (since that’s been on my mind these days.) Before they called my name for a table, Bob handed me a ballpoint pen that read, “Have a nice day. Bob.” He keeps several on hand to pass out to people. What a nice thing to do.

The heart attitude we think of today is kindness. In essence, the Holy Spirit wants to give us desires and attitudes that mimic God Himself.

When Joseph was unfairly cast in prison by Potiphar, “the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” (Genesis 39:21) 

Some of King David’s last words, as he looked back over his life, were thankfulness for God’s unfailing kindness to his anointed.” (2 Samuel 22:51) 

Paul often paired kindness with understanding, patience, and compassion2 Corinthians 6:6 and Colossians 3:12

We have thought at length about the heart attitude, but to “bear fruit” means we have to put it into action at some point. A kind heart will produce kind acts.

Have you ever listened to a family member answering the phone and noticed the different voices they have as they respond to the person on the other end of the line? Right away you can tell if it is a telemarketer, a loved one, or a bothersome friend. Our very voice inflection points out our bent toward kindness or lack thereof. 

Speaking of the phone—several years ago, I was knee-deep in child rearing a 5 year-old daughter and a terrible two’s son. I had a particularly bad morning with them and was mad as a hornet—then the phone rang. Before I thought, I said, “Hello” in the most disgusted voice you can imagine (yes, sweet Joyce) and the lovely elderly lady from church responded in a frightened voice. “Joyce?” I instantly melted and realized how awful I had sounded. I made no excuse—there wasn’t one. It was a mighty lesson. My kindness fruit (and patience, for that matter) was dearly lacking.

Can we show equal kindness to the lady whose body odor nearly knocks us down, as we do to the church staff member we adore? Can we speak a word of encouragement to the mother who is struggling to keep her children at bay in the doctor’s office rather than frowning piously? If we have the gift of leadership but are asked to do a menial job in a ministry, can we kindly help with what’s needed? If we have the gift of helping, can we show kindness to the bossy leader?

Let’s pray that we can heed Paul’s words:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy, and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 2:12

~ Joyce ~