Kindness and the Godly Man

Last Wednesday I had the privilege to speak to Soldiers, our guys group back home. Here is my lengthy manuscript for those of you who missed it and are interested in learning about “Kindness and the Godly Man” 🙂

Introduction:

Hello fellow soldiers. It’s truly a pleasure to be back with you all and a great privilege for me to share with you from God’s word this afternoon. From what I’ve been told, you guys have been learning about the characteristics of a godly man these past couple weeks. I think this is a really important, much need study for all of us. One of the main realizations I’ve had while in college is how much I need to grow up and mature in order to become the man that God wants me to be.  We, as high school and college guys, are all at a point where we can no longer use youth as an excuse to defend and justify our immaturity, in whatever form it may take. As Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians, we’ve spoken like children, thought and reasoned like children for far too long; it’s time for us to give up our childish ways and seek to be men who love and follow God.

The verse I’ve been given to speak on for this series comes from the first part of 2 Timothy 2:24 which says: And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all.

I. The Godly Man is the Lord’s Servant

My first point is that the Godly Man is the Lord’s Servant. You’ll notice that Paul doesn’t say “The godly man must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all”; instead he says “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all.” The reason we can use a verse like this for a series like this is because our pursuit of godly manhood is essentially the same as a slave’s pursuit to become more obedient and humble towards his Master. I think it is easy to fall into a very performance-oriented mindset as we pursue biblical manhood: we can make it all about working to acquire a certain kind of character as if character were the goal and not devotion to God. True godliness, however, doesn’t come from virtues of leadership or strength, or any other characteristic; truly biblical men are first and foremost defined by their complete devotion to God, our Divine Master.

Originally, I wanted to really dig in to this concept, but that would be a message in itself (John Macarthur’s new book is on this…and you can get it for free!) and it’s not really what I was asked to speak on. So instead let’s take a brief look at the implications of this idea that we are the Lord’s servants. God has given us many analogies and images throughout scripture to help us to understand our relationship with him and with His Gospel. There is the image of marriage, which helps us to understand Christ’s relationship to his church, his authority over it and how he laid down his life for it; there’s the image of a courtroom to help us understand our condemnation as lawbreakers before God the Holy Judge, and how Christ satisfied the punishment that we deserved; and finally, there’s the image of financial debt which helps us to understand the infinite debt we owe God, and how Christ paid for it. In the same way the analogy of slavery helps us to understand our relationship to God and to the Gospel as well as how we understand what it means to be a godly man. I have three quick subpoints on how this image of slavery should affect how we pursue godliness.

1. The image of slavery should make us grateful to the Gospel:

You may not think of being enslaved as something to be rejoiced at, but being a slave of Christ is a privilege won by the Gospel. Romans 6:16-18 says:

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves to sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18)”

No matter what everyone is a slave to someone or something. No one can say that they are free to control their own lives. Here, in this verse, we see that this can be boiled down to two options: either we are slaves to sin or slaves God. And yet, we know that apart from Christ that we really only have one option: to be hopelessly enslaved to sin. Without Christ, we are at the mercy of our passions and our lusts with no power to choose or please God.  But as the passage says: thanks be to God for the Gospel for reforming our hearts! This is why the Gospel is something beautiful. Jesus has purchased us! Titus 3:3-5 captures how Christ made a way for us to be slaves of God:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:3-5)

Because of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross, we have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Christ bought us with his blood and made us his own. This image should inspire gratitude in us.

2. The image of slavery should humble us before Christ:

This image should remove every ounce of pride that we might have as we seek to become godly men. Just think of the implications of what it means for us to be slaves, and for Christ to be our master. It means that he owns us and thus deserves our complete and whole-hearted obedience. His will supersedes our own. We owe everything to him and we are unworthy of anything for ourselves. Furthermore, we do not deserve praise for all our achievements, but as it says in Luke 17:10: “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” This image helps us to see the reality that it’s not about us, and it’s all about God.

3. The image of slavery captures urgency of the battle for sanctification

Even though we are justified by Christ, we still struggle with indwelling sin. The Gospel, however, through the Holy Spirit, gives us the power to choose God over sin and to be obedient to our master, Jesus Christ. Sanctification then could be described in one way as the process of seeking to obey God over sin as master. Romans 6:19 says: “For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. Our Christian’s lives are the battleground where we fight to choose who will have ultimate authority over our lives. With this in mind, let us realize that there are no unimportant moments in the Christian life; every moment has wartime urgency. Two masters: God and sin, want complete control over our souls. Every word and deed that we say and do are choices of who will have control and dominion over us. 

This is the starting point from which I want us to begin to understand what it means to be a man of god. I want our pursuits of godly manhood to be Gospel-centered, humble, and with wartime urgency. If we acquire all these traits of godly men, and yet we fail to make ourselves humble servants of God then our work is all in vain. We are first and foremost servants of God seeking to make Him the master and ultimate authority of our lives.

II. The Godly Man Must Not Be Quarrelsome

Moving on, my second point is that the Godly man must not be quarrelsome. This is simple enough. As men of God and as the Lord’s servants, we are commanded to not quarrel. There is no room for any of us to escape the scope of this verse. It is stated clearly that if we are to be the Lord’s Servants then we must not quarrel. The first obvious question to ask is what is a quarrel? I think a dictionary definition will suffice here. Quarrels can be defined as “an angry dispute or altercation; a disagreement marked by a temporary or permanent break in friendly relations.” Quarrels are fights which disrupt relationships and cause division in the church and amongst friends. You can see the danger here since we are called, as Christians, to be models of Christ’s love to each other and to the world. The two greatest commands are to love God and our neighbors. How can we, as devoted servants of Christ, fulfill these commands if we are constantly fighting and arguing with each other? Let us examine this sin and see how we can fight it.

1. The Sources of Quarrels: First, we need to identify the underlying causes which lead to quarrels.

A. Ignorant Controversies: One cause is foolish and ignorant controversies. A verse earlier in our passage from 1 Timothy 2, Paul exhorts Timothy to: “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” We must avoid involving ourselves in arguments and conversations that are harmful and damaging and just flat-out stupid. This obviously covers a broad array of topics and requires for us to use discernment. I can’t give you an exhaustive list of what is a foolish and ignorant controversy. We shouldn’t be trying to see how careless we can be in our actions and words without sinning. As servants of God we should seek to stay as far away from these controversies as we can.  When I think about how this can apply to us what comes to my mind is avoiding gossip, avoiding conversation where we subtly tear down someone’s reputation, or sharing information we really have business sharing.

B. Warring Passions, Unfulfilled Desires, and Covetousness: Another cause is our warring passions, unfulfilled desires, and covetousness. James 4:1-2a says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you fight and quarrel.” James identifies the problem that is causing his readers to quarrel and fight with one another. We have passions that are warring to master and control us, we have sinful desires that go unfulfilled and lead to jealously. When these sinful passions meet ignorant and foolish controversies they ignite and produce dangerous quarrels.

2. The Effects of Quarreling:

A. It does no good, but only ruins the hearers: 2 Timothy 2:14 says this, “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” If we get caught up in ignorant controversies it ruins our testimony for those who are watching our lives. They can see that though we may preach lofty things, our lives show that our desires and passions still master us.

B. Quarreling spreads conflict like fire: Proverbs 26:21 says this,”As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife” Another consequence of quarreling is that it can spread and lead to more conflict. Just as one spark can set a forest ablaze, one quarrel can create division and conflict within a church or amongst a large group of people.

3. How to Avoid Quarreling: Ultimately, our fight against quarreling is one battle out many, over who will be master over our lives: God, or sin. One master, our flesh, is pulling us towards ignorant controversies as a way to fulfill our selfish desire and soothe our jealousy. Another master, Jesus Christ, is telling us, along with Paul in 1 Timothy 2:22 to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. As we seek to be men of God, let us seek to obey and become more like our Lord Jesus Christ. After all he has already set the example for us, and given us the ability to follow him through his sacrifice on the Cross. As it says in Matthew 12:19-21: “He will not quarrel or cry aloud, now will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

4. Putting off is not Enough: Many of us, if we don’t particularly struggle with quarreling, may be tempted to think that we’ve so to speak, finished the job; however, putting off the old self is only half the battle. Ephesians 4:22,24 tell us: “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires… and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” We must not only put off, but also put on. We must not only flee youthful passions, but also pursue righteousness. This is where many of us, including myself, drop the ball. Although we may not sin openly through sins of commission, we sin subtly through omitting to fulfill this next command.

III. The Godly Man Must Be Kind to Everyone

This brings me to my final point: the godly man must be kind to everyone. You’ll notice that apply the same absolute word “must” that I applied to not being quarrelsome, I am now applying to being kind. If you look back at the verse, it says: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone.” That same absoluteness that Paul applies to the negative command, he also applies to the positive command. No Christian is exempt this duty. If we are to be the Lord’s servants and men of God then we must be kind. Not only that, but Paul gives us another extreme absolute:  we must be kind to everyone. No one is to be excluded from our kindness. We are to be kind to our friends, our families, those at school and at church, those who have things to offer us, and those who don’t. The first question then to naturally ask is what does it mean to be kind? Kindness can be defined as: “Showing tenderness or goodness; disposed to do good; averse to hurting or paining; benevolent; gracious.” From this definition we can see that being kind is the exact opposite of being quarrelsome. Being quarrelsome creates strife and stems from foolish controversies and selfish desires, whereas being kind creates harmony and stems from the Spirit’s fruit in a gentle loving heart. I have two points on the nature of kindness.

1. Kindness does good to others: My first point is that kindness does good to others.  Kind people actively seek to work for the good of those around them. It is not passive; it is expressed through what we do with our actions and words. We cannot become kind merely by sitting around and not fighting with one another; kindness requires hard work and initiative to look out for how we can serve our brothers and sisters. This virtue of kindness is a lot harder than it looks. Do we actively seek the good of those around us? Do we this to everyone? Or are selective in those we choose to be kind to? Are we apathetic towards the needs of others, and more concerned with our own needs? Or even worse, are we actively opposing kindness by creating quarrels and strife? Kindness does good to others.

2. Kindness acts with a gracious and caring spirit: My second point is that kindness acts with a gracious and caring spirit. Not only are we to do good to everyone, we are to do so in a gracious and caring way, not begrudgingly or out of selfish ulterior motives. When we seek the good of others we are to be gentle, humble, and loving; we are to put their needs before our own. This already hard virtue now becomes even harder. The truth of the matter is that many people are hard to love; many people have little to offer us back in return for our love. And yet, we are called to be kind to them just the same. This is not glamorous work. A lot of have this idealistic picture of unconditional love; we think that laying down our lives for someone who doesn’t deserve it will be a reward in itself; but in reality, it’s hard work. It really is called unconditional love because we don’t want to do it and apart from Christ, there is no reason to be kind to everyone.

3. How to become kind: How then can we gain this virtue of kindness?

A. It is the fruit of the Spirit: My first point is that it is a fruit of the Spirit. We cannot achieve real kindness on our own; it is a work of God in us through his Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.” As we strive to follow God, his Spirit does a divine work in us and cultivates kindness in our hearts. Nevertheless, we have a responsibility to obey God, our heavenly Master. There would be no purpose in commanding us after all, if we were not expected to work hard to obey that command. We are to work hard to be kind with the knowledge that true kindness comes from the Spirit.

B. We look to the Example of Christ: As we seek kindness we must always look back to the example of our Saviour. He has set the example for us of perfect kindness. He sought our highest good with a gracious and caring spirit by dying on the Cross for us while we were undeserving. Earlier I quoted Titus 3:3-5 which says:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:3-5)

Christ has showed us loving kindness. So as we seek to be kind people, let us examine, study, and appreciate the kindness of Christ that he demonstrated all through his earthly life and most clearly when he died to save us according to his own mercy.

IV. Application?

The application for this message is pretty simple: we are not to be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone. As we close, however,  let me end with a final thought. I think a lot of us, especially as Passive Asian males, have a tendency to make kindness a very selfish thing. We can use kindness or being nice as a way to make friends and to get people to like us. I couldn’t help but think of Wong Fu’s nice guy video/campaign: where the nice guy who was always forgotten and trampled on has his kindness recognized in the end and he gets the girl. I think this is the attitude we take on sometimes. We want people to notice and appreciate the nice things we do. We want to be rewarded and applauded as being good guys. If you think about it, this is a very self-seeking fake kindness. The purpose of kindness for the godly man is not for the praise of man; kindness flow is out of love and gratitude to our Master who bought us by becoming a slave for us and dying to rescue us. We owe him everything. So my closing encouragement to you guys is let us humbly pursue kindness as servants out of love and devotion for our master, not out of any ulterior motive. We are only slaves doing our duty to the Master who has given it all for us.

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