Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness & Goodness (Sermon Series)

Fruit of the Spirit - Kindness-Goodness

I continued last Sunday with our discussion about the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). On this Sunday I focused on kindness and generosity (sometimes listed as goodness rather than generosity – however it’s hard to be good, and not be generous.)

The practice of Kindness or Generosity is counter cultural to the world around us. I want to look at Generosity for a moment as a practice or way of life. In The Paradox of Generosity (Oxford University Press, 2014), sociologists Christian Smith and Hillary Davidson provide compelling social-scientific evidence suggesting that generosity leads to a happier, healthier, more purposeful life, confirming Jesus’ teaching that “Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 10:39).

In their study, Smith and Davidson, present social-scientific evidence to support the following nine specific effects of a pattern of generosity on our lives.

1. Generosity fosters positive emotions that promote happiness and health.
2. Generosity triggers the chemical systems in our brains that reduce stress and suppress pain.
3. Generosity promotes our sense of personal agency and self-efficacy.
4. Generosity provides us with positive, meaningful social roles and self-identities.
5. Generosity reduces our tendency toward maladaptive self-absorption.
6. Generosity reinforces our perception of abundance and blessing.
7. Generosity expands our social networks and relational ties.
8. Generosity expands our intellectual and emotional horizons by exposing us to the needs of others.
9. Generosity is associated with a more active lifestyle.

The authors are very specific to say that these positive outcomes result from ongoing practices of generosity. While specific acts, such as leaving money in our wills or signing an organ donor card, are generous acts, to achieve the effects listed above it requires a pattern of regular generosity.

Think about our current culture of consumerism, where purchase and consumption are emphasized as a routine part of our daily living. We are bombarded with opportunity after opportunity to consume. The folks on Madison Avenue know when we are at our weakest. Why do you think there are all those candy bars available to you at the end of a long night of grocery shopping?

Generosity helps us to push back against all that consumer pressure, and according to Smith and Davidson, we gain a greater sense of wellbeing through generosity. You are invited to find your own practice of generosity, and to enjoy the work of building God’s Kingdom.

I hope to see you Sunday as we continue to explore the fruits of the ministry.

Grace and peace…