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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Kindness as Being Useful

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3 NIV)

Our picture, away from God, is not very promising.  We can try to do good things, but ultimately we fall short of living perfect lives.  When we did what came natural to us, we ended up away from God and deserving punishment.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV)

God, however, was kind to us.  He sent Jesus, who was also kind to us, came here to become like one of us, and then allowed us to put him to death on a cross.  All of this was an act of kindness, providing a way for us to be forgiven of our rebellion against God.  Now, because of Jesus, we only need to come home to the Father through the Son and we will receive forgiveness of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This is offered to us as an act of kindness.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

Kindness, then, is not just about being nice.  It has a place in God's plan.  It has a purpose.  The Greek word for kindness used in these passages (χρηστότης) is defined in the Strong's Greek Dictionary as "usefulness."  When we are kind, we are being useful in God's plan similar to Jesus.  When we are kind, we are useful.

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

How about you?  Are you kind to people?  Do you do it to be nice?  Do you ask God to use your kindness in His plan?  Are you being useful?