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L. Carroll Judson: Kindness, prudence, and goodness

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

“Conquer your enemies with kindness, preserve your friends by prudence, deserve the esteem of all by goodness.”

L. Carroll Judson in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 226.

If you like short meditations that take a long time, perhaps even a lifetime to grasp, then try to lean into this one. There are three distinct layers to it.

Each layer points the opposite direction of human tendency. We try to conquer our enemies. We take our friends for granted, and we demand respect by view of our earned rank.

What if we did the opposite? We would overcome evil and conquer enemies with good. We would nurture friendships with care, and greatness would link to humble service.

Notice the combination: kindness, prudence, and goodness. Goodness, of course is a synonym for generosity. It’s as if this post sums up our exploration over the past two weeks.

With prudence, or in modern terms, with intentional care, let us extend kindness and generosity to all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In so doing we will build bridges with enemies, strengthen bonds with friends, and any esteem that returns to us will glorify God who empowers our service and fuels our giving.

Today I fly to Indianapolis to speak at Gathering First Fruits: National Summit on the Economics of Ministry tomorrow. I’d appreciate your prayers for strength, safe travel, and Spirit-filled service. Thank you.

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John Hinton: Do yourself a kindness

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

“Relieving distress is doing one’s self a kindness, because it engages others to relieve us, on the like occasion.”

John Hinton in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 197.

Today’s Scripture is known as “the golden rule” because Jesus uses this statement to sum up the heart of the Old Testament teachings. It proclaims how people should treat each other.

Ever think of showing kindness as doing yourself a favor? That’s precisely Hinton’s point today. Show others how you want to be treated by how you treat them. But not everyone gets this.

Only when we follow it, do we do ourselves a kindness because only then do we position ourselves to be blessed as we have blessed others. What’s the point for us as we think about generosity?

Bless others the way you want them to bless you. Jesus tells us that the measure we chose for others will be used on us (Matthew 7:2), so be sure not to be miserly!

Do yourself a kindness. Be hilariously generous.

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Arthur Helps: Firefly

Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24

“Always say a kind word if you can, if only that it may come in, perhaps, with singular opportuneness, entering some mournful man’s darkened room, like a beautiful firefly, whose happy circumvolutions he cannot but watch, forgetting his many troubles.”

Arthur Helps (1813-1875) in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 475.

Kind words are little gifts wrapped in letters and filled with goodness. Anyone can share them, regardless of their measure of wealth. They cause people, momentarily, to forget their troubles and experience the love of Christ.

I am becoming convinced of something in this recent exploration of kindness. This is an area in which we can all grow, but only if we attune to how the Spirit wants to extend kindness through us.

Think for a moment about sharing kind words. If you do it this morning, because God’s economy is abundant, you don’t run out of kind words. God can still supply an abundance to share in the afternoon and evening.

There is unkindness all around us. Sometimes (God forgive us) we cause it due to our human sinfulness. What should we do? Let’s resolve to dispense kind words, like fireflies, wherever we go.

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Julia L. Dumont: Thoughtful, considerate, and anticipatory

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

“How beautiful is that kindness which is always thoughtful, considerate, and anticipatory; which busies itself with contributing to the good of others, which thinks beforehand what their wants are to be, and how they may be met most pleasantly and efficiently; which thus sows the seeds of happiness and progress along the commonest waysides of life, and sheds an influence of refreshment and peace on all the circle.”

Julia L. Dumont (1794-1857) in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 475. It’s been snowing where we live. This is a shot of our townhouse with a blanket of snow (pictured above).

Kindness positions us to bless others wherever we go. Dumont illustrates this blessing with graphic images and words. It appears as “thoughtful, considerate, and anticipatory.”

The thoughtful aspect thinks of the needs of others. The considerate part acts on their behalf. And, as for the anticipatory element, it knows just when and how to minister to others best.

We appear as sowers, diligently sowing to multiply blessings. By the way, if you do not have my book, The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources, reply and I will email you a free PDF copy.

Lord, make our generosity “thoughtful, considerate, and anticipatory” so that its timing is right, its impact precise, and so that our sowing influences others for you. Do this we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Thomas Gisborne: Reason and Kindness

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies. Let a righteous man strike me — that is a kindness; let him rebuke me — that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers. Psalm 141:3-5

“The language of reason, unaccompanied by kindness, will often fail of making an impression; it has no effect on the understanding, because it touches not the heart. The language of kindness, unassociated with reason, will frequently be unable to persuade; because, though it may gain upon the affections, it wants that which is necessary to convince the judgment; but let reason and kindness be united in a discourse, and seldom will even pride or prejudice find it easy to resist.”

Thomas Gisborne (1758-1846) in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 475.

Ever feel like you are not getting through when communicating to a person or an audience. What if you add kindness to reason? Gisborne offers this helpful advice for us for touching even the toughest audience.

His counsel mirrors the words of the psalmist today. The righteous can deliver a message that may hit hard, but when delivered with careful lips, it will be received as a kindness.

Perhaps there is something you need to say to someone or some group? Keep watch over your words. I sometimes speak then think. Don’t do that. Pause to listen with empathy. Then, put on kindness, speak, and see what happens.

We may have generous reasoning or instruction to share with individuals or groups, but if the message is not coupled with kindness, our efforts may amount to no more than a waste of time and energy.

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George Augustus Henry Sala: Watchful kindness

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6

“In the intercourse of social life, it is by little acts of watchful kindness recurring daily and hourly — and opportunities of doing kindnesses if sought for are ever starting up — it is by words, by tones, by gestures, by looks, that affection is won and preserved. He who neglects these trifles, yet boasts that whenever a great sacrifice is called for, he shall be ready to make it, will rarely be loved. The likelihood is, he will not make it; and if he does it will be much rather for his own sake than for his neighbor’s.”

Perkins in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 475.

Sala uses a good term “watchful kindness” to describe how we have opportunities all the time to show kindness to others, and to reveal our others-centered Christian faith.

For those seeking to grow the kindness in their generosity, he offers a good list: words, tones, gestures, and looks. With these devices we can dispense kindness.

What’s interesting about this is that when we “neglect these trifles” as Sala puts it, we reveal that maybe our actions are really just for ourselves rather than others.

The Apostle Paul would suggest to add prayer to the mix. This way, the Spirit of God will guide you and bless others through you as you serve as an agent of watchful kindness.

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A. Perkins: Kindness at home and abroad

Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12

“What does kindness do at home? It makes the mother’s lullaby sweeter than the song of the lark, the care-laden brows of the father and the man of business less severe in their expression, and the children joyous without being riotous. Abroad, it assists the fallen, encourages the virtuous, and looks with true charity on the extremely unfortunate.”

A. Perkins in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 476.

Here’s something to think about when you get dressed. Clothe yourself with kindness (among other traits). As Perkins notes, it changes everything at home and brings harmony and joy.

Kindness also shapes the world around us. It lifts up the fallen, encourages the virtuous to stay the course and gives the broken and hurting exactly what they need, a helping hand.

Remind yourself as you get dressed each day to put on kindness. Perhaps say it to yourself every time you put on your socks to remind you to include kindness with every step you take.

Imagine if you left kindness in your clothing closet. You could go about your day and do many things that you think might be generous, but how would they be received without kindness?

Put on kindness at home and abroad.

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Hannah Whitall Smith: Glory

But let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 9:24

“Have any of us ever come to the place where we have honestly ceased to glory in our own possessions? Never, I believe, until we have been deprived of them. Human nature is so constituted that while it possesses anything, it can hardly help glorying in it. As long as the Christian feels wise or strong or rich in spiritual things, that Christian will almost inevitably glory in his strength, wisdom, or riches. But if these are taken away, he will be driven to glory in the Lord alone, simply because there will be nothing else to glory in.”

Hannah Whitall Smith in Daily Secrets of the Christian Life: A One-Year Devotional (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) reading for 4 June.

In what do you glory? I’ve returned home from teaching. My students learned that when we retain material or spiritual wealth, we will inevitably glory in it. Pride overcomes us. We can’t handle it. When we release all, and trust in God’s abundant provision, all glory goes to God when He supplies.

Let me ask you again. In what do you glory? For years I felt good about my finances. I was content with my Christian faith. Candidly, I functioned as if I thought I had things pretty much sorted. Looking back, my understanding of glory was off, and I was not dispensing His kindness.

Now that you see what I am talking about, consider the question one more time. In what do you glory? Your bank account(s) and your calendar answer the question truthfully. What’s this have to do with kindness and generosity?

Only when obey the teachings of Jesus and deploy all that we are and all that we have, are our lives positioned to bring God glory. It’s the narrow way that most people miss. On that path, His kindness, justice, and righteousness are made known through us.

And, it’s more beautiful and glorious than anything any human can muster.

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A. W. Tozer: Theatre

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 2:6-7

“In our desire after God let us keep always in mind that God also hath desire, and His desire is toward the sons of men, and more particularly toward those sons of men who will make the once-for-all decision to exalt Him over all. Such are these precious to God above all treasures of earth or sea. In them God finds a theater where He can display His exceeding kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. With them God can walk unhindered, toward them He can act like the God He is.”

A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) in The Pursuit of God, excerpt chapter 8, entitled, “Restoring the Creator-Creature Relation.” Click to download the PDF of this classic work.

Tozer reminds us that God views each of us who chooses to exalt Him over all as a theatre, a place to display His exceeding kindness before a watching world.

Would people say that watching you is like seeing a blockbuster or box office bomb? This is a serious question to consider as God’s reputation is at stake through how we, as so-called Christians, live our lives.

Notice that when God sees people who are sold out for Him, He works through them and walks with them. In that sense, He handles the writing and production work. So, what is our role in the process?

Our role is to exalt Him. That’s been the highlight of my Faith and Finances course this week. I had students from past years share testimonies from their stewardship journeys, but I never dreamed what would happen as a result.

In theatre terms, my past students were “smash hits” who captivated current students and convinced them to obey even the more difficult financial teachings of Jesus. God has written and produced an amazing story this week.

Don’t ever underestimate your influence and impact. You are God’s theatre.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The weak and the strong

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:32-35

“To bear the burden of the other person means involvement with the created reality of the other, to accept and affirm it, and, in bearing with it, to break through to the point where we take joy in it. This will prove especially difficult where varying strength and weakness in faith are bound together in a fellowship. The weak must not judge the strong, the strong must not despise the weak. The weak must guard against pride, the strong against indifference. None must seek his own rights. If the strong person falls, the weak must guard his heart against malicious joy at his downfall. If the weak one falls, the strong one must help him rise again in all kindness. The one needs as much patience as the other.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) in Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community (New York: Harper & Row, 1954) 101-102.

In God’s providence, I located a free PDF copy of this book for download. Click to access it. I commend it to all Daily Meditations readers. If you have not read it, it’s a classic to add to your reading list this year!

We have been looking at kindness for only one week and found rich insights to shape our generous living. Today is no exception. Bonhoeffer brings kindness to the center of all interaction between the weak and the strong.

This came up in a conversation with a student this weekend. She’s doing her thesis on a topic that is widely misunderstood by Christians. As she gains wisdom I urged her to kindly aid those who are receptive to listen.

When we look honestly into our own hearts, we find that we are all strong in some areas and weak in others. That’s God’s design and the fellowship in which He has placed us. It also reveals why we must relate with kindness.

Kindness opens the door for relationship. How might kindness shape your interaction with people this week? As I shift from the classroom to financial counseling sessions, I’m choosing to bring kindness to my meetings.

I meet with each of my Faith and Finances students, as individuals or as couples (if they are married), to help them get their financial houses in order. I am finding that kindness inspires them to take courageous and obedient steps.

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