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John Wesley: Envy, Kindness, and Generosity

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:3-4

“Love envieth not.” This, indeed, is implied, when it is said, “Love is kind.” For kindness and envy are inconsistent: They can no more abide together than light and darkness. If we earnestly desire all happiness to all, we cannot be grieved at the happiness of any. The fulfilling of our desire will be sweet to our soul; so far shall we be from being pained at it. If we are always doing what good we can for our neighbor, and wishing we could do more, it is impossible that we should repine at any good he receives: Indeed, it will be the very joy of our heart.”

John Wesley (1703-1791) in John Wesley in Sermon 139 “On Love” preached at Savannah, February 20, 1736 (text from the 1872 edition – Thomas Jackson, editor).

Why bring up envy when our focus is generosity seasoned with kindness? Envy is the sinful force that insidiously washes away our kindness and consumes our resources for doing good thereby limiting our generosity.

In modern terms, we want what other people have so we often live beyond our means to get those things. This activity uses what resources God has supplied for doing good to others on things instead of people.

The insatiable and dark desires of envy leave us empty.

Lest envy overtake you and your generosity, make a list of the things you think you want that others have. Give that list to God. Sometimes He may supply these things, and other times He may graciously show you that you never needed them after all.

What happens in you, however, is most important. When you let go of envy, you make room for the spirit to produce the fruit of kindness. As Wesley proclaimed, “Kindness and envy are inconsistent: They can no more abide together than light and darkness.”

Kindness fills us with light and love and enriches our generosity.

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Thomas à Kempis: Kindness and Grace

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Whatever is wanting in me, good Jesus, Savior most holy, do You in Your kindness and grace supply for me, You who have been pleased to call all unto You, saying: “Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you.” I, indeed, labor in the sweat of my brow. I am torn with sorrow of heart. I am laden with sin, troubled with temptations, enmeshed and oppressed by many evil passions, and there is none to help me, none to deliver and save me but You, my Lord God and Savior, to whom I entrust myself and all I have, that You may protect me and lead me to eternal life.”

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) in The Imitation of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1998) 105.

As we think about the relationship between kindness and generosity, we must not miss the source of our supply: good Jesus. In kindness and grace He gives us everything we need to find rest, to avoid so many sinful traps, and to take hold of eternal life.

To imitate Christ, let us be people who live, give, serve, and love generously with kindness and grace. In so doing, may we lavish on others exactly what they need to be refreshed, strengthened, and pointed toward safety and salvation.

Do you know someone who is carrying a burden today? What if you helped them carry it like Christ has helped carry yours. Do it with kindness and grace. Hold nothing back either. Entrust yourself to good Jesus who supplies and has infinite kindness and grace.

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William Lenthall: Kindness to God

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

“Whatsoever duties we perform in kindness toward our neighbors, we perform unto God.

William Lenthall (1591-1682) in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 618.

Anytime Jesus makes a “truly” statement we need to pay attention. With this one He tells us that kindness to the least deserving person is kindness to Him.

In that text He references the hungry, thirsty, sick, and naked, and lest we think these are just those culturally perceived as nice people, the list includes prisoners.

As fellow humans, they are our brothers and sisters. Kindness to them is kindness to God. So, that said, will you be kind and generous to God or rude and stingy.

No wonder Jesus commands us to be generous at all times. It’s a test. How we treat people, especially the least deserving, reflects what we think of God.

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James Ellis: Little acts of kindness

As Jesus looked up, He saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. Luke 21:1-2

“Do not despise little things. The widow’s mite was as precious in the eyes of the Lord as the rich man’s gift; so should little acts of kindness be appreciated when emanating from a poor and generous heart.”

James Ellis in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 519.

Jesus sees all giving. He does not just notice big gifts or large displays of generosity. He sees the little acts of kindness.

May God give us the eyes to see and celebrate these little acts. They happen all around us thanks to our neighbors, our co-workers, and even strangers.

Perhaps you or I will be the widow today? God may give us the opportunity to do one or more little act of kindness by sharing generously from what we have: giftedness, resources, experience, etc.

Let’s do it. May God give us the hands to perform these little acts. And remember, Jesus sees our little acts of kindness and celebrates.

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Fredericka Bremer: Perpetual development

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:3

“Is there any blessing of heaven which is more beautiful, more worthy of our warmest gratitude than the possession of a home where goodness, kindness, and joy are daily inmates; where the heart and eye may sun themselves in a world of love; where the mind is clear and elevated; where friends, not merely by words but by actions, say to each other, “Thy gladness, thy sorrow, thy hope, thy prayer, are also mine!”

See how, within the good and happy family, all inequalities are smoothed down, so as to form a common element of goodness and beauty, in which each member of the family finds his life, each power its development, each feeling its reception and its return, each pure pleasure its expansion…Life in a happy family is a perpetual development, a continual spring day.”

Frederick Bremer (1801-1865) in The Neighbors: A Story of Everyday Life, translated from Swedish by Mary Howitt (New York: Harper, 1843) 84.

Bremer’s sketches of everyday life in Sweden shaped living in Britain and the United States in the middle of the 19th century.

Here she speaks of the impact that goodness, also known as generosity, can have when coupled with kindness and joy in a home. It creates a place of perpetual development for all who live there and all who visit.

Is your home a place where, when people enter and visit, they become partakers of the peace, life, and love?

My wife, Jenni, and I have intentionally tried to make our home into a sanctuary where the Spirit of God dwells, where people experience the love of Christ, and where they see Bible verses and sayings that minister to their souls.

Walk around your home sometime today. What do you see? Is there clutter that must go? What do you hear? Is there noise that must be quieted?

Make your home a place that fosters “perpetual development” for all who enter it. Do this so that all who enter will prosper there. Fill it with generosity, kindness, and joy. It will be life-giving for you and everyone else.

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Mary Louise Booth: Holidays and Kindness

Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind the LORD your God of His covenant with you. I am the LORD your God.” Numbers 10:10

“It is well for us to cherish holidays of every sort, national days, festivals, and above all, the family holidays which are sacred to each home circle, and which tend to draw closer the bonds of natural affection. They promote sociality, they afford needed relaxation, and they make the people better and happier by developing a spirit of kindness and affection. Above all, they should be maintained for the children’s sake, for it is a cheerless youth that knows no holidays; and nonetheless do we need them for ourselves.”

Mary Louise Booth (1831-1889) in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 375.

Holidays are times of gladness that remind us to give thanks to God, and they help us build kindness and affection for one another. We form social traditions that knit us together as family and friends. They bless us and our children.

Today in the USA we observe the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood for justice, freedom, and nonviolence during difficult days. Back in his time the divisions linked to race. Today, many in the USA are deeply divided by party lines. We are living in tense times.

In the Old Testament festival times, God’s people would blow the trumpets to send a message to Him. If I could blow such a trumpet today I would ask God to bring hope and healing, to pour out grace and mercy, and to make us people of kindness and generosity.

Hear my trumpet, O God, for our families, our friends, and for our children.

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Thomas Chalmers: Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

“Do good, and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storms of time can never destroy. Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy, on the hearts of thousands you come in contact with year by year. You will never be forgotten. No, your name, your deeds, will be as legible on the hearts you leave behind as the stars on the brow of evening. Good deeds will shine as the stars of heaven.”

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 320.

“Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy, on the hearts of thousands you come in contact with year by year” is an expression that moves me.

What does it say to you? It tells me that I must touch each person with an unselfish awareness that generously gives them what they need, not what they deserve.

What about your role? This statement also reminds me to steward my role well because over the course of a year, I may have the opportunity to impact thousands of people.

Might this be our greatest legacy of generosity? Let us write our names in kindness, love, and mercy on the hearts of those we serve this year for God’s glory.

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Henry Martyn: Gentleness and Kindness

But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere. James 3:17

“The power of gentleness and kindness is always irresistible.”

Henry Martyn in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 320.

I arrived home yesterday afternoon in a snowstorm. It broke just before sunset when I shot this photo at our townhouse. This morning I am giving thanks for the way that the wisdom from above transforms our lives.

It leads us to be pure, which in antiquity is to reflect integrity or consistent faithful living. It makes us friendly and gentle. We also become sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.

What Martyn adds with his comment is the fact that the power of gentleness and kindness is irresistible. He’s right, isn’t he? Just think of the impact that gentle and kind people have on you.

Now think of a person you have difficulty interacting with. They are easy to resist. But what if you asked God to help you extend gentleness and kindness toward them by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you?

Add gentleness and kindness to your generosity. You will deeply touch the hearts of those that God leads you to serve. Some of them might be difficult souls, and the power of these traits is irresistible.

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C. Nestelle Bovee: Increased kindness

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6:35

“A generous nature, when it forgives an abuse of its favors, seeks by increased kindness to prevent a repetition of ingratitude.”

C. Nestelle Bovee in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 294.

When we read text like today’s Scripture, we are stunned by the fact that God “is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” Our human tendency is to condemn the ungrateful and the wicked.

Bovee sheds fresh light on why we must turn up the kindness when we sense ingratitude. This is the key to  graciously alerting them to the need for change or even being the influence that changes their behavior.

The conference in Indianapolis has gone well. I’m grateful. It has been good to see many friends from around the country whose lives have shaped mine in the stewardship space. I fly home this afternoon.

May God continue to nurture “increased kindness” in me and all those reading this, so that together we help even the ungrateful and wicked to experience the generous love of God. Make it so, Lord Jesus! Amen.

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John Tillotson: Forbearance

Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Philippians 4:5

“A more glorious victory cannot be gained over another man than forbearance, that when the injury began on his part, the kindness should begin on ours.”

John Tillotson in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 294.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, a context where people like Euodia and Syntyche would not get along with one another, he called for forbearance.

We don’t hear this word often in the States. Perhaps that’s a sign that our society needs more forbearance. It’s a combination of gentleness, patience, and mercy. It graciously holds back what may be deserved.

Recently I have heard a person who had been wronged by another say, “I am going to sue that person!” What if instead, when wronged we proclaimed with forbearance, “I am going to show kindness to that person!”

That’s what God did for us. He showed us mercy, forbearance, and kindness to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:1-4). Let us generously extend the same kindness and forbearance toward others and likewise aid them.

I don’t know about you but this exploration of kindness is killing me…in a good way! It reveals to me that it is easy to be generous with money or time, but it is much harder to die to selfish human tendencies.

Only when we die to this former way of living are we transformed into the likeness of Christ. Only then do we become conduits of God’s kindness and generosity. That’s what He desires for us. Have your way in us, LORD.

Today I deliver a workshop at Gathering First Fruits: National Summit on the Economics of Ministry on my book, Faith and Finances: A Stewardship Curriculum for Schools and Churches.

There are hundreds of people here. I’ve been blessed to see many friends here too. More than I can mention. And, I’m encouraged as a good group has registered to attend my workshop. Pray for receptive hearts today.

I am excited that one of my former Northern Seminary students, Eddie Smith, Sr., now a pastor of a church here in Indianapolis, will share in my workshop how the content shaped his life and the culture of His church.

Eddie was the student that insisted I create a workbook for individual study and for small groups at churches. His passion inspired the publishing of Good and Faithful: Ten Stewardship Lessons for Everyday Living.

The curriculum is for pastors and professors. The workbook and videos that stream freely is for every person on the planet. Seriously, fellow stewards in places like the Philippines, Egypt, and Australia have gone through it.

I commend it to everyone, everywhere, and encourage churches all over the world to use it as a tool for growing good and faithful stewards. Have you gone through it? Click the link above to check it out.

Don’t miss the message of today’s post with the details of my travel and service! When wronged, as followers of Christ, let us return kindness. That’s forbearance! It’s the power of good that overcomes the evil around us.

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