Wednesday, February 13, 2008

JUICY FRUITY KINDNESS: Juicy Fruit of the Spirit - Part 6 - February 9, 2008

“‘ My kindness shall not depart from you.”
Isaiah 54:10

“Jesus B.” Jesus what? “Jesus, be,” says Pastor Jim Lyon (Madison Park Church). The point of his sermon is that we are to strive to be like Jesus: Jesus, be. Jesus describes God as kind and instructs us to “be” kind as well: "I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind..” (Luke 6:35 The Message)

While being kind isn’t always easy—and often is not my initial gut response to a challenging situation—I have a “God-created identity” with a spiritual predisposition to be kind: to Jesus “be.” The kindness gene is encoded in my spiritual DNA.

Most mornings, while still lying in bed, I whisper in my heart, “Thank you, Lord, for this day and for your loving-kindness which lasts forever.” Psalm 143:8 confirms that I’m on the right track when I acknowledge God’s loving-kindness before my feet hit the floor in the morning: “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

“Loving-kindness” is kindness extraordinaire; kindness that goes the extra mile; kindness that permeates a personality; kindness bestowed on friend and foe. It’s difficult to describe, but I know it when I experience or witness it.

I experienced synchronicity (“the coincidental occurrence of events,” or as I like to call them, “God-incidences”) as I was preparing this column on kindness. While surfing the web in search of kindness, I learned that February 11-17 is “Random Acts of Kindness Week.” There was no rhyme or reason to the timing of my series on the Fruit of the Spirit; I never got the memo that there is such a thing as Kindness Week; and I’m not organized enough to plan ahead to coordinate such a meeting. It just so happened that this column on kindness falls on the eve of Kindness Week: God-incidence!

The purpose of “Random Acts of Kindness Week” “is to raise awareness about kindness and to invite people to give and receive kindness daily.” It provides the opportunity to experience the fruit of kindness: JOY!

The words “random acts of kindness” are a response to the well known catch phrase “random acts of violence.” “‘Random’ does not necessarily mean ‘unplanned’ any more than random acts of violence are unplanned.”

I invite you to act upon your “God-created identity,” to “Jesus, be,” and look for ways to be extra kind this coming week. The Random Acts of Kindness website ( documents what people all over the world are doing to promote kindness:

· In Colombia S.A., Damir, Juan and Erasmo handed out chocolates in their school neighborhood. “We were glad seeing people smiling with happy faces when they receive their chocolates.”
· "UMOJA" (togetherness), a group of Kenyan youth formed to increase community awareness of the issues of the youth, raised funds by picking up trash.
· Bookworms in Hawaii established the “Honolulu BookCrossing ‘Ohana (family)” with the objective of making “the whole world a library.” How? By leaving books they’ve finished in public places, labeled with an invitation to take, read, and pass along the book to someone else.
· “Nostalgia,” a trio in Bangor, Maine sings at nursing homes and the VA hospital.
· The Extra Milers of Jeffersonville, Indiana, identify and honor people in their community that “go the extra mile.”

Please join me in this coming week in celebrating “Random Acts of Kindness Week.” Start with a smile. Dr. Steve Elliot, a local physician, reports that when he was in Russia on a mission trip, he was recognized as being an American—because he smiled. Sad to think, isn’t it, that there are places in the world where people are so downtrodden that smiles are rare.

Let’s light up Madison County, and beyond, with our smiles this coming week. Let’s also be good listeners, mediators, encouragers, Extra Milers… Jesus, be!

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