My 33rd birthday is next Saturday. I started a tradition on my 25th birthday where I spend the day doing acts of kindness. I asked people to join me on my 30th birthday and let their kindness be my presents. This will be the 9th year of Let’s Be Kind. I have a post describing why it started and sharing some of the sweet stories here. So far it has been all about seeing other people and putting smiles on their faces.
This year, I sense God doing something a little different. I am still going to give kindness away, but I feel like God is calling me into a quieter place. If you want to do an act of kindness for my bday- awesome! But there’s no pressure, whatsoever, to tell me about it.
It feels like we are standing right on the edge of a move of God. I feel like God is about to do something profound in our world and I want our focus to be on Him. So many have been hurt by the Church. Our kindness might just be what tears down walls and starts a revival in our desperate world.
Just in the last couple of weeks, a well-known pastor came out against Beth Moore because she leads and speaks in church. He didn’t argue that their theology about women in ministry is different, instead he attacked her character. People on both sides of the argument were up in arms.
Then Kanye West came out with a gospel album and, again, we got on our “sides” and went to battle. I’ll admit I was one of the first to roll my eyes about it. But I got rebuked from the Holy Spirit. A worship pastor that went to Bible college with us posted this about it… “Whatever your view is on Kanye, we can all agree on one thing. This is going to reach people that nothing else could. The gospel is spreading fast. And God is using people that no one ever expected. Just like he did in the Bible,” (Randall Cartwright).
Wow. He is so right. The disciples were a hot mess and they regularly offended the religious leaders. I very much do not want to be like the Pharisees who missed what God was doing right in front of them because Jesus didn’t come packaged the way they expected.
I often ask myself, “If Jesus were walking around the world today, would He want to hang out with me?” I think that is a pretty important question. Time and time again, Jesus upset the religious because He hung out with those society deemed unworthy. He got right in their worlds, ate at their houses, stood up for them, healed them, and saved their souls. But He often rebuked the church leaders and challenged their interpretations of Scripture.
The hearts of the religious leaders were exposed in John 8 when they brought the woman being caught in adultery to Jesus. They humiliated the woman in order to trap Jesus. Jesus doesn’t play that game. Instead, He exposed their sin and then spoke to the woman’s soul: “Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?” Looking around, she replied, ‘I see no one, Lord.’ Jesus said, ‘Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin,’” (John 8:10-11 TPT).
We (the Church as a whole) are going to have to figure out how to be kind to one another and not so easily offended. I don’t want us to miss what God is doing. Jesus is shaking us up and challenging the status quo. He is using the unlikely. We have to be careful and check our hearts so that we don’t walk around like modern-day Pharisees. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do I celebrate when God uses other people or do I wonder, “What about me?”
- Do I hold others to an impossible standard yet give myself grace?
- Do I find my identity in my performance?
- Do I feel justified by my good deeds?
- Do I feel better than other people because I go to church?
- Do I feel extremely uncomfortable being around people who believe differently than me?
- Can I be rebuked without defending myself?
- Do I think I am always right?
Those are pretty hard to answer. I think we have work to do and room to grow. We need to remember where we came from. Even if you were raised in church and don’t remember a time when you didn’t know Jesus, the fact is, we would be lost without Him. We are not God’s gift to the world – Jesus is. We all needed His sacrifice to be made right with God. We have not earned anything and we have not arrived. It is our flesh’s default to want to sit on the throne. Humility, serving, love, surrender, sacrifice, and kindness are the antidotes to a Pharisaical heart.
“One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ Jesus replied, ‘The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these,’” (Mark 12:28-30 NLT).
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other,” (John 13:35 MSG).
In the past, I have asked people to do small anonymous acts of kindness for my birthday like paying for someone’s coffee. I want us to take it a little deeper this year. Maybe the kindest thing you could do is sit next to the person at church who drives you crazy or, forgive someone who really hurt you. Maybe when you look in the mirror, you need to be kind to yourself and notice what a beautiful job God did creating you. Maybe the next time someone disagrees with you about what you believe, listen to them with compassion and respond with their eternity in mind. Let’s take kindness to a new level.
We have a life group in our home for young adults and are studying Counter Culture by David Platt. This week was about the sanctity of life. We discussed abortion, pornography, and sex trafficking – all very hard topics. There is a person in our group who is a new believer and expressed that she doesn’t believe abortion is wrong. I watched our group love her right where she was and lovingly express why they disagreed with her. She listened and stayed for a few more hours to ask questions about the Holy Spirit. THAT IS WHAT REVIVAL LOOKS LIKE! A group of professional 20 and 30 somethings stayed until midnight with their Bibles open, wanting to learn and grow. I almost couldn’t stand it.
We are living in the most exciting and privileged time in history. If we really believe that the Gospel changes lives, then let’s tell it to those who need to hear it with great humility and love. Let’s be kind.