Focus 4 (of 4)-Kindness is Already Shining

Focus 4|Kindness is Already Shining

Most of the sayings about politeness come with the same sentiment: those who are more well-mannered will get ahead. They’ll win. They’ll do well for themselves. While this might sometimes prove to be the case, it’s not ideal that these phrases give the impression that the point of politeness is to get ahead. The reality is that true kindness, true politeness, has existed just as long as faith has existed, and is always and can only be a direct result of true faith.
Chat about this ice breaker question to get started.
We’re you raised on any “politeness sayings” (like “silence is Golden”)?
See what this Spotlight—and series—is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 4" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Let's talk about manners
Watch this clip from the 1999 film, Blast from the Past
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
We've talked a lot about manners and politeness in this series, addressing myths like this. Today, we'll try to see how kindness was the goal the whole time - and that it's a goal from the very heart of God.
Let's say a prayer together as we dive into this Spotlight.
Your kindness and compassion toward us
are the very sources of light by which we can see
both your face and the faces of those around us
whom we have the chance to love.
Welcome Perspective
When true love invites kindness and grace to move in, politeness moves out.
Let God's unconditional love shine through the cracks in our humanity.
The God of the Bible isn't just an all-powerful being. He's a kind friend. This fact is celebrated beautifully in the old hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." 
I know this video is for kids, but it's still pretty great...
Pray this prayer together.

God our friend & creator,
You created all things in total wholeness and completeness;
You created us to be whole people.
But we have become fragmented, cracked and broken.
We have been broken by false promises, lost relationships, shattered trust.
We have become cracked with systemic sin, prejudice, oppression and fear.
We have become fragmented, building up walls instead of lending hands. 
Forgive us when we have done the breaking,
heal us where we have been hurt.
Let your light shine through our cracks so that we might bring light to the world,
showing that in you we are made whole.
In you we find healing.
In you we find renewed life.
Help us to forgive, to love, to heal, and to mend.

Have 1 group member read the following;
God is the potter, we are the clay.
When we are cracked and broken, God brings us back together.
Sometimes we don’t feel the same afterwards,
but God uses every piece,
and offers us the newness of life to begin again.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”
(1 John 4:9-12)
Read Psalm 145. What's your favorite description of God here, and why?
Psalm 145 (NIV)
Psalm 145
A psalm of praise. Of David.
1 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
Pray this prayer and ask for the kindness of God.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Lord, we pray that the fruit of your Spirit may grow in us.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Lord, help us to destroy any passions or desires that turn us away from you.
Transform our sinful natures and teach us your way. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Lord, walk ahead of us and help us to follow you.
Lord, walk beside us and hold us up in difficult times.
Lord, walk behind us and protect us.
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Lord, help us not to think too much of ourselves.
Lord, help us not to make those around us angry.
Lord, help us to rejoice with our sisters and brothers in their joys,
and keep us from envy. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Worship Perspective
Those humble enough to trust with faith are humble enough to be kind.

Talk about this story:
  • What really ended the famine: David's actions, the Gibeonites request, or Rizpah's display of love? 
  • What motivates a person to do what Rizpah did here? 
Reflect on this poem: 
i want you to wipe away
everything you know about love
and start with one word
give it to them
let them give it to you
be two pillars
equal in your love
and you’ll carry empires on your backs

Rupi Kaur, from “Homebody”
See the ways that Kindness is Already Shining | Ephesians 4:17-5:2
To start, Paul lays out the issue that leads people to be unkind and inconsiderate.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
  • 18 They are darkened in their understanding
    and separated from the life of God
    because of the ignorance that is in them
    due to the hardening of their hearts.
  • 19 Having lost all sensitivity,
    they have given themselves over to sensuality
    so as to indulge in every kind of impurity,
    and they are full of greed.

Next, Paul lays out the solution to this anti-kindness problem. The very important question, here, is: What does he mean when he says you're created to 'be like God' in verse 23?

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Now Paul is going to give several examples of ways that we "put ON falsehoods" and don't "speak truthfully" to our neighbors. Can you put each of them in your own words?

  • 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
  • 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
  • 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
  • 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Finally, Paul paints the positive dream.

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 5:1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

  • Notice what's at the heart of human kindness and compassion: forgiveness
Learn Perspective
Acting out of faith in any situation brings true dignity.
Consider the connection between hospitality and the Gospel. 
Read this excellent article about the connection between nursing, hospitality, and Christ.
Read the Article
Questions to discuss:
  • The article speaks in "Christian transformationalist" language. Can you define "transformationalism" as it is laid out in this article? Do you think this is a good goal of Christianity? 
  • The Ronald McDonald House - which we've looked at in this series - works to make inhospitable circumstances (like a terrible diagnosis for a child) into something manageable. What Christian principles and concepts can be helpful to you as you try to bring hospitality into tough situations? 
  • Think through, together, how the sacrifice it takes to enter into uncomfortable situations and bring hospitable care can be well worth it. 
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Serve Perspective
Hospitality believes lifting up others is worth sacrifice.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.'

Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective

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