John Chrysostom: The Season of Kindness

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Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:42

“Stretch out thy hand, let it not be closed up. We have not been constituted examiners into men’s lives, since so we should have compassion on no one. When thou callest upon God why dost thou say, Remember not my sins? So then, if that person even be a great sinner, make this allowance in his case also, and do not remember his sins. It is the season of kindness, not of strict inquiry; of mercy, not of account.”

John Chrysostom (c. 349-407) in Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, On the Epistle to the Hebrews, ed. Constantine, presbyter of Antioch, excerpt from Homily 11 on Hebrews 6:13-16, 908.

Of the four doctors of the Eastern Church, we have already heard from Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen (two of the Cappadocian Fathers), now we hear from the third on the intersection of kindness and generosity.

Chrysostom keenly notes the days in which we live. We are not in the season of “account” or the time at which we will give an account to God. That comes later. We are in “the season of kindness” which comes first.

What a beautiful picture! “The season of kindness” is the brief time we are on this earth to live open-handed, generous lives. We must not judge others but have compassion and show mercy to all.

We default to “strict inquiry” which leads us to label people as undeserving of our aid, or sadly, when someone wrongs us we “remember his sins” rather than serve as agents of mercy and forgiveness.

As we draw near to Lent, the season leading up to Easter, I suggest we approach it as a “season of kindness” in order to practice disciplines to shape our living in preparation for someday giving an account.

What will you fast from, give to, and pray about in anticipation of Easter?

I say we fast from strict inquiry, give to those needing compassion, and pray for God to help us remember not the sins of others but recall what Christ did with our sins on the cross, so that we show mercy in the season of kindness.

Today Jenni and I served Baptist Financial Services to wrap up a great week in Sydney. Tomorrow we fly to Adelaide. Also, Wordpress just informed me that I have posted for 3,500 days in a row as of today. To God be the glory!