Girls With Swords, Week 4

“Now by the laws of war, better than defeating a country by fire and the sword, is to take it without strife.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

As Christians, we are not called to fight a war with earthly weapons; the battles that are fought are actually in the spiritual realm.  Instead, we are called to show kindness to all people.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

My Task, hymn lyrics by Maude Louise Ray

“To love someone more dearly every day, to help a wandering child to find his way, to ponder o’er a noble thought and pray, and smile when evening falls: This is my task.

“To follow truth as blind men long for light, to do my best from dawn of day til night, to keep my heart fit for His holy sight, and answer when He calls: This is my task.”

Being equipped with the armor of the Lord and the Sword of the Spirit, we are a part of the army of the Lord.  Take heart, you are not alone!  There are Christians all over the world, and they are going through similar battles.  That’s why we need to encourage one another and help strengthen them.  I liked a quote that I read in the Art of War, which says “Skillful soldiers make defeat impossible, and further render the enemy incapable of victory.”

Let’s be skillful in our task, and help others become skillful in their tasks too, so that we may render Satan incapable of victory.

“Division weakens the Church. As long as people are focused on their squabbles and disagreements, they cannot further the kingdom of God.” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

“The Unity Creed: To create peace and unity, I must work hard. I must observe the world around me. I must minister in time of need. I must listen actively all the time. I must remember all that I can. Then when I need help, if no one gives it, I must pray to God, giver of all things.” -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

Girls with Swords, Week 3

For my birthday earlier this month, Lacy bought me a book that I’ve been wanting: The Art of War.  It’s said to be a great book, used by successful entrepreneurs  to improve their skill.  But as I read it during this time while I’m also studying Girls with Swords, I find we can apply it to Christian living, too.

“To all nations war is a great matter.  Upon the army death or life depend: it is the means of the existence or destruction of the State.” Sun Tzu in The Art of War

The existence of God’s Holy nation – Christians from every part of the world – depends on how well each of us prepares for our spiritual battle.   If we stand ready to fight against the spiritual enemies who wage war against us, we will be able to persevere and protect our people from the enemy’s attacks; but if we stay ignorant and in denial of the war around us, Satan will easily overpower us and cause the people of God to stumble and fall away.  War is a great matter, whether we stand in the offense or in the defense; we have to be ready for the battles ahead.

If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” John 15:18-21  (ASV)

This week, the Girls with Swords chapter focused on how we might be heroes just like the men and women spoken of in Hebrews 11.  Through faith, we can face the enemy and stand bravely for Christ.  With God as our power, we can be superhuman.

It sounds unbelievable; but don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies against this concept- you really are the hero of your own story.  The moment you chose to be baptized, you became an enemy of Satan, and all the angels in heaven rejoiced (Luke 15:3-10).  If you haven’t chosen baptism yet, then Satan’s legion of demons fight every day to keep you from making the decision of accepting salvation through Christ’s resurrection.  While God wants no man to perish but all to have eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:9), Satan wants quite the opposite. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), but Satan wishes that all people shall perish and none have eternal life.

Once you accept your role as hero, whether you perform amazing miracles like the hero Captain Sullinberger of the US Airways flight 1549 or you’re just a forgotten survivor, victim of life’s worst events the way that Chuck Noland was in the movie Castaway, you are a hero in your own story and Satan is trying to bring you – as a Christian – to ruin.

“Reacting does not equal choosing. Fear will drive you to react, but as you become more skillful with the sword, you will choose your response with the intent of honoring your Father – rather than protecting yourself.” -Lisa Bevere, from the Girls with Swords Fencing Manual

The best way to choose your response with an intent of honoring God instead of fearing the enemy is to prepare for the attack and be ready for whatever will happen.  To be ready, we must put on the proper armor so that we will have the protection that God provides us.

“He who does not know the evils of war will not reap advantage thereby. He who is skillful in war does not make a second levy, does not load his supply wagon thrice.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you don’t spend your time preparing, then the enemy will have an advantage over you and you won’t have enough “supply” -strength, knowledge, and will- to fight back.  On the other hand, if you prepare for war and grow skillful with the provisions that God gives you through Scriptures, then the enemy cannot surprise you with an attack that you didn’t expect.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us six articles of protection that we should wear in our fights against Satan.  We should never be found without them, unprepared.  Our enemy is always on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8), and will pounce the moment we set our armor aside for a moment of rest.

Heroes may feel afraid of something, but they trust in their power, whether its the power of their sword, or their own [superhuman] abilities, or something else. In [Christians’] case, God is our power.  -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

God is permitted to do what he wants with me, because I have no idea who I am anymore. I mean, if my ideas have to “be scrapped” before God can place me in his own, then let it be so, because my plans are void almost like a money check when it’s VOID. So Lord, I permit you. -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

Girls With Swords, Week 2

Imagine yourself with a sword newly polished, ready to be brandished in battle, zealous to fight against the demonic enemy.  Your blade fits your skill, compliments your strength and body structure, and is never too weak or causes you weariness. When the enemy sees you coming, he sinks back in dread, because with your quality as a warrior, you stand victor in every campaign. He doesn’t stand a chance.

That’s how you are, when you’ve got the Holy Spirit equipped.

Your warrior quality, your preparedness for battle, is explained more deeply through the Bible. In Matthew 3, we read about John the Baptist, a prophet who was also the cousin of Jesus Christ, put on earth to declare Christ’s entrance into the world; John speaks words of judgment to a group of alleged holy men, priests, saying,

“Even now the ax is on the root of the trees. Every tree that does not give good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. For sure, I baptize with water those who are sorry for their sins and turn from them. The One Who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is greater than I. I am not good enough to take off His shoes. He comes ready to clean the grain. He will gather the grain in and clean it all. The clean grain He will put into a building. He will burn that which is no good with a fire that cannot be put out.” —–Matthew 3:10-12 (NLV, boldness added)

These priests that came to be baptized by John the Baptist came because it was a phenomenal trend to witness and be part of the prophet’s iconic show, but their hearts were not ready for the Messiah’s coming. Some of these priests may have even aided in the murder of Jesus – I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute. So John warned them judgment was coming. Blade would separate and fire would destroy.

The “One Who comes after me” is Jesus Christ, and Christ has vested us, Christians, with the sacred power of the Holy Spirit, to have, hold, brandish, clash, conquer, defend, rescue, and unite with, in truth.

The truth is given to us by many authors of the Bible. (We use the Bible as our authority because, even after academic study and countless critiques, it has proven to be without error. History backs it up, it backs itself up with eye-witnessing accounts, and no account contradicts the other one.) Jesus gave his disciples the understanding that when the Holy Spirit came, which happened on the Day of Pentecost written about in Acts 2,  the Spirit would teach them, tell them about Jesus, and give them a full understanding of the events that took place in their lives, both past, present, and future. Before the Holy Spirit came to them, they were all very confused and lacking in motivation, but after He came, their lives were transformed. In John 14:15-17, Jesus says,

“If you love me, obey my commands.  I will ask the Father. And he will give you another friend to help you and to be with you forever. That friend is the Spirit of truth. The world can’t accept him. That’s because the world does not see him or know him. But you know him. He lives with you, and he will be in you.” (NIRV)

When one of his apostles asked how he got to be so lucky, Jesus clarified that a person receives the Spirit by loving Jesus, obeying his teachings, and living for him. If he or she does that, the Spirit will come and dwell therein, giving that person wisdom and insight to help prepare for battle, which ultimately, is a battle leading us to eternal life.

Jesus left his followers with one mission, which we (21st century Christians) see from present day they prevailed in doing:

“Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” —- Matthew 28:19 (NLV)

If we believe, are baptized, and follow Jesus Christ, we can experience the same Spirit of Truth the 1st century disciples had. Sure, we can’t tell others we were eyewitnesses of his life, wounds, death, and resurrection like the apostles did, but you can tell others how he changed your life.

And if you feel he has not changed your life, maybe you were baptized in the wrong name, like those innocent believers in Acts 19. There were a few disciples living in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) who heard John the Baptist’s teachings and got baptized because of him, and later Paul arrived and asked them if they had the Holy Spirit. Their response was like “Huh? What are you talking about?” and he inquired,

 “Then what beliefs did you acknowledge at your baptism?”

They answered,

“What John the Baptist taught.”

Oh! That answers the problem, Paul might’ve thought. He helped them realize John’s baptism was only temporary; it was meant to lead them to Jesus Christ, the one who had the ability to give us the Holy Spirit, the Life Sword. So they were baptized again, this time in the name of Jesus Christ, and received the gift of the Spirit.

My prayer for you is that you receive the Holy Spirit and obey Jesus Christ, being able to understand his plan for your life and why you were placed here at this time and place, to serve him in power and truth, delegated to fulfill your piece in salvation’s puzzle.

Since this is ultimately part of the Girls With Swords study, I have continued my video evaluation, and my video activity, which I will share with you here in case you are studying with me. I outline Lisa Bevere’s 3 points from Chapter 2, A Sword is Born.

“We buy our swords when we prepare for war, and that’s why Jesus got his disciples ready. Get the sword ready, ‘cuz we will literally face life and death. I disagree [with Ms. Bevere] that the sword of truth isn’t seen in a duel of death… for some it is [especially in the Middle East, North Korea, and Africa], and Jesus said lose your life and follow me. ‘Take up the cross’.” -quote from Lacy’s Fencing Manual

“Not everyone can be privileged to stand out and do something big enough to make history; I don’t think we’re all called to do something great. Some of us are just meant to be stepping stones, paving the way to someone else’s greatness. But in God’s book, the first shall be last, and the Master washes the feet of his disciples, so it’s ok to just pave the way.” —quote from Kat’s Fencing Manual 

Chivalry, Vileness, and Death

An armored Knight galloped on a horse so fine,

A white horse: that milky, pale mare,

And the Knight, pure and refined,

He portrayed heroism, indeed.

~ ~

Dark eyes watched enemies at abroad horizons,

Surveyed lands: lush, green grasslands,

Emitting a bright sword, so pious,

Its appearance was crimson-free.

~ ~

His cape draped over the back of his mare,

A strong shield: a firm, polished helmet,

Those were all attributes he handled with care.

He had a character that was careful and clean.

~ ~

His heart was saddened, though,

From an attempt, an awful, fatal attempt,

That a Princess had sworn by, she chose

To be bound by a deadly creed.

~ ~

Dragon was fierce; he cared for no one,

Angry feelings: angry, livid rage,

He had a personality feared by everyone.

This Princess was a prisoner of his greed.

~ ~

She had what he wanted: she had what he needed,

Her beautiful heart: a kind and gentle heart,

Yet timidity, her one weakness,

She was Dragon’s key.

~ ~

The door to life, everlasting riches,

Promised to those who contained kind hearts,

He planned on killing her, hence,

To obtain what he needed.

~ ~

Dragon had forced the Princess to surrender

Her life: Her precious and wholesome life.

So that he could be the one to live on forever.

He didn’t once take heed.

~ ~

The Knight on the horse, that milky, pale mare,

Was going to tell Dragon what he should hear.

So he galloped on his horse, that milky, pale mare,

Day by day, battling both cold and heat.

~ ~

He raced across plains, dashed through valleys,

The horse was always weary, but he was always brave,

Night after night for strength he prayed,

Dear Father, I don’t want to be too late.

~ ~

As the Knight arrived closer, every step at a time,

Dragon pined for that lovely immortality.

He laughed and mocked, but the Princess never whined;

She tried holding onto her faith.

~ ~

Dragon hated waiting, so he would linger no more!

Her heart he would take, that precious, pure heart,

From her, so he could live forevermore.

There would be no more wait.

~ ~

The Knight galloped on, so fast and never stalling,

When envisioning death, of his beautiful Princess,

How could he even think about stalling?

No, it couldn’t be too late!

~ ~

Dragon leered; he moved his claw across her skin.

The cackle was there, that crude, blunt cackling.

He began by pinning his claw to her chin,

And he knew then, that her skin soon wouldn’t be crimson-free.

~ ~

As he neared her chest with his sharp weapon,

A noise, an approaching, tedious noise,

Like the prancing of hooves, it startled Dragon,

And he turned to look and see.

~ ~

“Who is he?” Dragon sneered.

As he saw a bright and shining Knight.

He was mounted on horse, a milky, pale mare,

It was like this Knight was cloud sailing.

~ ~

“I am a knight,” he replied, “and this is my bride.”

“You think you can take her away?”

“Snatch her from my side?”

His hands were bruised, from much laboring.

~ ~

Even so, his bravery increased,

And he unsheathed a sword, so pious,

He dismounted his horse, and neared

The Dragon, who was glaring.

~ ~

“You can’t take what’s mine away,”

“You’re fate still remains the same, Dragon.”

“Even if you take my bride away,”

“You are still dying.”

~ ~

“Steal a heart, but you’ll remain in death,”

“Even if that heart’s full of kindness.”

“Change your own heart, and you’ll be free,”

“Life will be yours, and immortality.”

~ ~

Dragon refused to listen, and the Knight shook his head.

The Princess would be set free, but Dragon’s fate was death.

The Knight cast his sword forward, a tear slipping, and falling,

He was hoping Dragon would change his mind.

~ ~

But because of his stubbornness,

His foolish, stupid stubbornness,

Dragon would reap what he sowed.

His own vileness would heap and teem.

~ ~

It would become millions of times worse,

Than it was before: all the evil he had boasted,

Would bounce back, and be his curse,

Dragon would gnash his teeth.

~ ~

So it was done, the Knight pierced him:

Dragon cried in pain, a loud and mournful cry,

And he knew then, there would be no one to save him.

The knight blade was not crimson-free.

~ ~

The burning fire he had treated others to,

That seething, potent pain they felt,

Was now engulfing Dragon, who,

Had the choice to surrender and yield.

~ ~

The Knight bent down, and checked his bride,

To see if she was still humble.

He had saved her from death, and the Dragon’s pride,

Her heart, he had tried to steal.

~ ~

Prayer of the Faithful

A prayer with the words of Albert B. Simpson (Hymn: What will you do with Jesus?) , Eliza E. Hewitt (Hymn: Who will follow Jesus?), and King David (Psalms 25 and 26).

Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall, Friendless, forsaken, betrayed  by all; Hearken! What meaneth the sudden call? What will you do with Jesus?

Jesus is standing on trial still, You can be false to Him if you will, You can be faithful through good or ill: What will you do with Jesus?  (Simpson)

O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. (Psalms 25:1-3, NLT)

Who will follow Jesus, standing for the right, holding up His banner in the thickest fight?  Listening for His orders, ready to obey, who will follow Jesus, serving Him today? (Hewitt)

Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.  Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past.  Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.  Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, grapes
O Lord. (Psalms 25:4-7, NLT)

Who will follow Jesus, in life’s busy ways, working for the Master, giving Him the
praise; Earnest in His vineyard, honoring His laws, faithful to His counsel, watchful for His cause? (Hewitt)

The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.  He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.  The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. (Psalm 25:8-10, NLT)

Will you evade Him as Pilate tried?  Or will you choose Him, whate’er betide?  Vainly you struggle from Him to hide: What will you do with Jesus?

Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny? Or will you scorn from His foes to fly, Daring for Jesus to live or die?  What will you do with Jesus? (Simpson)

For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins.  Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.  They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.  He teaches them his covenant.  My eyes are always on the Lord, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.  (Psalms 25:11-15, NLT)

Who will follow Jesus when the tempter charms? Fleeing then, for safety, to the Savior’s arms; trusting in His mercy, trusting in His power, seeking fresh renewals of His grace every hour? (Hewitt)

Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse.  Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble.  Forgive all my sins.  See how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me! Protect me! Rescue my life from them! Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take my refuge.  May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.  (Psalm 25: 16-21, NLT)

Who will follow Jesus, in His work of love, leading others to Him, lifting prayers above?  Courage, faithful servant! In His word we see, on our side forever will this Savior be. (Hewitt)

Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.  Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.  Test my motives and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. (Psalms 26:1-3, NLT)

Who will follow Jesus? Who will make reply, I am on the Lord’s side; Master here am I?(Hewitt)

Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners. Don’t condemn me along with murderers.  Their hands are dirty with evil schemes, and they constantly take bribes.  But I am not like that; I live with integrity.  So redeem me and show me mercy.  Now I stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the Lord. (Psalms 26:9-12, NLT)

“Jesus, I give Thee my heart today! Jesus, I’ll follow Thee all the way, Gladly obeying Thee!” will you say: “This I will do with Jesus!”  (Simpson)

Live by the Spirit

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 (WEB)

This week’s Bible reading has been focused on the book of Judges, Ruth, and the start of 1 Samuel.  It’s amazing to see the Holy Spirit direct and empower God’s chosen people in the Old Testament.  There were especially 2 people who stood out to me as I read this week: Samson and boy Samuel. They were both raised from birth as Nazirites, and were supposed to be set aside for God’s purpose.

…A man or a woman might want to promise to belong to the Lord in a special way. This person will be called a Nazirite. Numbers 6:2 (ICB)

Nazirites had special rules that they had to follow.  As long as they followed the rules of the Nazirite promise, they would be filled with the Holy Spirit.  But if a rule was broken then they would become unclean and the Spirit of the Lord would leave them.

Like the Nazirites, Christians are also called to live in reverence to God’s laws. Every Christian has his or her own relationship with God, and not all Christians feel called to take a drastic Nazirite-like promise to dedicate their life to God. Even if they don’t take drastic measures to declare their faith, all Christians should at least create for themselves a standard to live by; one that allows a place in their hearts for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Once anointed by the Spirit, the Christian will be empowered with God’s truth. After truth is received, strive to walk in the life that you dedicated to God.  Don’t let yourself fall for temptation. If it’s too hard, then you may have to re-prioritize.  If just 1 glass of wine will lead to 2, then 3 and 4, maybe you should skip that first glass all together.

TRUST the Spirit to teach you what you need to know.

“but the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all the things which I have said to you.” John 14:26 (DARBY)

The Spirit is a witness.

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes forth from the Father, he shall bear witness concerning me;” John 15:26 (DARBY)

The Spirit convicts the world.

“When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment;” John 16:8 (WEB)

The Spirit speaks the words of God.

“However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.” John 16:13 (WEB)

The Spirit tells you what is true.

“I am in Christ, and I am telling you the truth. I do not lie. My feelings are ruled by the Holy Spirit, and they tell me that I am not lying.” Romans 9:1 (ICB)

Be FILLED with the Spirit.

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31 (DARBY)

The Spirit empowers you to succeed.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (WEB)

The Spirit guides you to God’s will.

“And the Spirit said to Philip, Approach and join this chariot.” Acts 8:29 (DARBY)

The Spirit calls you to do God’s work.

“As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them.'” Acts 13:2 (WEB)

Be RECOGNIZED by the Spirit to receive God’s blessings as His children.

“And the Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 (ICB)

The Spirit lives in you if you are Christian.

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.” Romans 8:9 (WEB)

The Spirit leads you into a relationship with God.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God.” Romans 8:14 (WEB)

If we are God’s children, then we will receive the blessings God has for us. We will receive these things from God together with Christ. But we must suffer as Christ suffered, and then we will have glory as Christ has glory. We have sufferings now. But the sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us. Everything that God made is waiting with excitement for the time when God will show the world who his children are. The whole world wants very much for that to happen. Romans 8:17-19 (ICB)

GROW in the Spirit and be COMFORTED.

“So the assemblies throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and were built up. They were multiplied, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:31 (WEB)

The Spirit will help you and pray for you when you are weak.

“In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered.” Romans 8:26 (WEB)

The Spirit will speak to God on your behalf.

“God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way that God wants.” Romans 8:27 (ICB)

The Spirit provides hope in every circumstance.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (WEB)

RECEIVE GRACE and be FORGIVEN with the Spirit.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:2 (DARBY)

The Spirit restores life.

“If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:10-11 (WEB)

My brothers, I am sure that you are full of goodness. I know that you have all the knowledge you need and that you are able to teach each other. But I have written to you very openly about some things that I wanted you to remember. I did this because God gave me this special gift: to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the non-Jewish people. I served God by teaching his Good News, so that the non-Jewish people could be an offering that God would accept- an offering made holy by the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:14-16 (ICB)

Kindness is a Pear

Have you ever taken a bite out of a pear and held the sweet, soft taste on your tongue? Of course, dozens of pear types bless the world around, all different: in the USA and Europe, a pear may look red and feel soft on the tongue, while in Asia, a round golden pear has a gritty outside skin with a crunchy, less juicy flesh. Amidst all the differences, though, pears always classify as pyrus species from the Rosaceae family. It’s incredible.

Kindness is like pears in the same way: every person has a unique way of showing kindness, and each kind deed can be done in different settings, for different occasions, yet it’s always the same class of spiritual fruit. No matter how different kindness looks on the outside, it can still be called kindness. Just like pears,  it’s always sweet and nice, no matter what. God loves when people are kind, and he is kind to them in return.

Witness the simultaneous balance of the kindness and severity of our God. Severity is directed at the fallen branches withering without faith. Yet kindness is directed at you. So live in the kindness of God or else prepare to be cut off yourselves.” Romans 11:22 (VOICE)

3 examples of kindness:

  1. Antonin always comes home from school hungry, so his mom started making a healthy snack for him, to keep him from being uncomfortable.
  2. Flossie, a lady who owns a ranch, knows how much her new friend Lucia likes horses, so she invites her over one weekend to ride the friendliest American Quarter Horse, Birch.
  3.  The owner of a corner store notices his young customer is short a dollar for the spicy chips he picked out. The customer’s about to go put it back on the shelf when the owner says, “Go on… keep it.” No explanations why he let the guy keep the chips, but the customer goes away happy.

Everyone will show kindness in their own ways. That’s why it is valuable for us to accept each other, each person as he or she is, to truly appreciate a kind act when it is done. For example, imagine a wife asks a husband to build a front porch on their home, so that the steps come out away from the door, and a sitting area is available for guests; the husband is glad to do it, but it doesn’t look the way she wanted it to. Sure, she may be frustrated at him because he did it wrong, and complain about the flaws for days, but that doesn’t make his act any less kind.

Let’s go a little further into the pear analogy before we conclude. You know how when a pear isn’t quite ripe enough, and you try to eat it, it’s hard to bite? Well, sometimes God gives us the chance of a lifetime, to do an act of extreme kindness, something that is (like an unripe pear) hard to bite into. An act of extreme kindness will always be life-changing, either for yourself or another, and it may also require self-sacrifice.

The three examples mentioned above are kindness, but they are not really toilsome in nature. It can be fun to be a good friend or pay for someone’s chips, because you usually get to see a person smile or feel good about what you did, and that makes it “worth it” in your mind. With extreme kindness, however, nothing is gained from what you did, or perhaps you will not be able to see the person’s reaction, or even the person may not want it, but it will undoubtedly help that person.

The Bible is an effective source for examples of extreme kindness. Here are 5:

  1. In 1 Samuel chapter 24, David had a chance to kill Saul, his pursuer, in the Rocks of the Wild Goats. Saul was plotting to kill him, chasing after him with a deep vengeance, yet David did nothing more than cut his cloak while he was vulnerable (unable to fight back), and he even felt sorry for doing that! David’s extreme act of kindness was life-changing for Saul and completely at his own expense. Saul didn’t want it, he didn’t ask for it, but afterwards, he was blessed.
  2. In Genesis 13, Abraham bestowed kindness on his nephew Lot when he gave him the choice of land in front of them, as they both decided to part ways, since their herds were getting too large to continue intermingling. The kindness was extreme because Lot decided to choose the lush, fertile land for himself, leaving Abraham with the drier, less convenient spot.
  3. In Luke 21, we see a touching incident where Jesus looks up and sees a poor woman putting two small coins into the tithing box. She was being extremely kind to give all that she had – in the Scripture it says she literally gave “what she needed for her own living.” In this case, the house of God could have said “Who cares?” since she gave very little in proportion to the richer folk… but Jesus recognized her worth.
  4. In Acts 9, a Christian man named Ananias was directed, by a dream from God, to go meet Saul (not the same man from David story) in order to help recover his health and learn more about the gospel. Ananias was scared to death. Saul was famous for killing Christians like himself! However, he trusted God and helped Saul, despite his personal safety, proving his kindness.
  5. We cannot ignore the ultimate gift of kindness Jesus Christ did for us all by dying on the cross. He didn’t want to do it, but he did because it was right, and because he was born for that very reason. You can read about his days on the cross in whichever gospel: Matthew 27, Mark 14-15, and Luke 23.

“But God, the One Who saves, showed how kind He was and how He loved us by saving us from the punishment of sin. It was not because we worked to be right with God. It was because of His loving-kindness that He washed our sins away. At the same time He gave us new life when the Holy Spirit came into our lives.  God gave the Holy Spirit to fill our lives through Jesus Christ, the One Who saves.  Because of this, we are made right with God by His loving-favor. Now we can have life that lasts forever as He has promised.” Titus 3:4-7 (NLV)

As Christians, God does not always require extreme kindness. Most days, making our friends and family smile is enough. But if in your life you feel a dire need to show kindness, like, there’s something you must do that only you can do, and the Spirit urges you to act, probably for someone else’s safety or their salvation, be comforted as you decide whether to do it; if you choose yes, God will forever remember you; He will thank and reward you personally when you come into heaven, and on that day, so glorious and bright, the heavenly hosts will be overflowing with kindness, and the God-of-Angel-armies will celebrate with you; on that day, you will understand the meaning of all the kind acts you did, both soft and hard, casual and extreme – let that be the reason to choose yes!

dscf0224-smaller