The Rewards of Kindness

Chapter 7 of Feminine Appeal deals with the topic of “kindness.” This seems at first glance like a no brainer. But kindness is actually harder than we like to admit sometimes.

Have you ever been surprised at how unkind you can be? I sure have!  There have been too many times when I have caught myself thinking, saying or doing things that I am not proud of.

Carolyn Mahaney prefaces this topic explaining that in order to tease out the full meaning of the imperative to be kind, we must also address the topic of doing good. For goodness is implicit in the definition of the Greek word for “kind” in this passage. Kindness and goodness can often be used interchangeably, but there are actually some differences between the two traits. Jerry Bridges explains:

kindness: the sincere desire for the happiness of others

goodness: the activity calculated to advance that happiness.

You can’t have the effectual rewards of one without the other. Just having the desire for the happiness of others doesn’t get you anywhere. And just doing things for other people’s happiness isn’t genuine–it’s people pleasing.

Just like talk and no walk, or walk and no talk. Only leads to hypocrites and “good people” with no explanation or display of the gospel.

First, we must ask for help before we try to do act in kindness or goodness. Just like every other topic we have covered. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit living within us. He is the One who produces this fruit in our lives. When we try to accomplish it on our own, we are going to come up short.

There are THREE main hindrances to kindness:

  1. Anger
  2. Bitterness
  3. Judging

1.) Anger

Just like a sponge, when circumstances arise that squeeze us, what is inside is revealed. Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” Anger is when we desire something more than we desire to please God. Expressions of anger reveal sinful desires in our hearts, cravings that are not being satisfied. Is that convicting? Often times we desire peace and quiet, convenience and ease, a clean and orderly house, appreciation and recognition, MORE than we desire to glorify God by being kind.

The solution is to humbly submit our sinful cravings to God. This requires humility, but we have God’s pledge that He will give grace to the humble (James 4:6). He will help us turn from anger and cultivate kindness (121).

2.) Bitterness

Bitterness is based upon somebody else’s sin who is close to us, and who did something to us. It has everything to do with the proximity to us. “As wives and mothers, we must be especially wary of developing bitterness toward our husbands and children–our closest relationships” (122). Ephesians 4:31 instructs us to “get rid of all bitterness.” So HOW do we do that?

The solution is forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” For when we remember how much we have been forgiven, only then will we have the capacity to forgive. By pondering the cross, our perspective can be transformed, because we then realize that all of our offenses against a holy God make us just as guilty as the person who has wronged us. When we can receive forgiveness from God, we must also extend forgiveness just as He did in Christ.

3.) Judging

Judging is looking for other’s faults, and without valid or sufficient reason, forming unfavorable opinions of their qualities, words, actions, or motives.” Also known as looking for the worst in others. Often we make negative assumptions about others only to find out later that we were completely wrong. Mahaney states, “Sinful judging can wreak havoc with the desire for our husbands’ and children’s happiness; therefore, we must be vigilant in our efforts to resist this temptation” (125).

The solution is repentance. We MUST enlist the Holy Spirit’s aid to making loving judgments. When we repent from judging, we will gain fresh passion for our families’ happiness. We must not presume we are judging a situation correctly. We must ASK if we are perceiving the situation accurately with humility and kindness.

Questions to ponder:

  1. If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 of your kindness before marriage and now, how would the results fall? More kind? Or less kind?
  2. If family and friends were to use one word to describe your character, do you have any idea what they would say?

Scripture makes it clear what we should be known for:

  • praying (James 5:16-18)
    • No one can pray for our husbands and families better than we can!
  • greeting (Romans 16:16)
    • How do you greet your husband when he comes home? (or when you come home to him?)
    • Are you greeting/being greeted with enthusiasm?
  • listening (Proverbs 20:5)
    • Do you practice listening? I think this skill is increasingly difficult for our generation because we have so many distractions. We must PRACTICE the art of listening! Not just hearing, but understanding.
    • Have sincere interest in what our husbands and children are saying. Don’t interrupt, look away, yawn, or take over the conversation.
  • encouraging (Proverbs 12:25)
    • How do we talk to and about husbands and family members? We should be on the lookout for praiseworthy actions that glorify God–then give specific encouragement.
  • planning (Proverbs 22:3, 21:5)
    • Planning ahead to do good works. This is the “calculated” part of kindness and goodness. This could mean planning to hide ourselves and family from trouble as well as planning to initiate good works.

A lot of these acts of kindness do not lend themselves to immediate return. We must think of them as an investment for greater return later in life. “Marriage will become more precious. Motherhood will grow more dear. The rewards will start coming–with bigger and bigger returns” (133). Regardless of who takes notice in this life, God is watching. He is recording every expression of kindness and every act of goodness. What greater incentive could there be to advance our families’ happiness?

HOMEWORK:

  • In which of these five acts of goodness would you most like to improve on?
  • How do you plan on seeking to change?
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The Honor of Working at Home

Well….hello.

I feel like I need to introduce myself to my readers again because I’ve been gone for so long. With all the craziness of Christmas and a new year, building a house, and being on the job search again, my blog has taken the backseat, totally unintentionally. I honestly didn’t realize it had been so long since I had updated and for that, I apologize! So, without further ado, let me finish my summaries of Feminine Appeal for those of you who have been following along. Our Wednesday night group just finished last Wednesday, so I’m not too terribly behind, right? Ha, right.

Chapter 6 is titled, “The Honor of Working at Home,” which could quite possibly be a source of debate among some of you. So let me preface this by saying, there is no biblical mandate that says the wife and mother is sinning if she does not work at home. Absolutely not! There are definitely circumstances that do not allow that to happen, and people who would prefer to have a career outside the home. This is not intended to induce guilt by any stretch of the mind, so please don’t think this is some legalistic virtue that binds women to ONLY household duties and mothering. It is merely an encouragement to priorities these roles over other things and for us to realize the great honor that comes with it.

Titus 2:3-5 says,

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Let’s all start on the same page here. Obviously, we are living in a post-feminism movement society. So let’s ask ourselves:

  • In what ways have we been influenced by the toxic feminist air that we have been breathing for the last several decades?

The media feeds us constant lies that being a wife and a mother is less honorable than having a career. Mahaney states, “Feminism has failed to deliver as advertised. Yet feminism philosophy has become thoroughly integrated into the values of mainstream society–so much so, that it has been absorbed and applied by the majority of women, even many who do not consider themselves feminist. Ask yourself: “Have I been seduced?” For me, having a career seems more glamourous sometimes–especially in my 20’s. It seems glamourous to have a nice paycheck, be able to buy nice clothes, travel for work, and to meet all kinds of people in all walks of life; to not be “tied down” at home.

  • But how does Scripture convince us to think differently about “working at home?”

1 Timothy 5:14 counsels the younger widows to marry, bear children, and manage their households.

Proverbs 31 we have the ideal wife and mother who’s sphere of work centered around the home.

1 Timothy 5:8 clearly states that men are responsible to be the providers for the home while women are responsible to be the caretakers of the home.

However the KEY is this:

“Scripture provides examples of godly women who worked in other settings and earned extra income, but never to the neglect of their families and homes” (104).

Working at home should be a constant and ongoing priority in our lives. Seasons of our lives will change and working outside the home will not compromise our work in the home. Especially before children and after they have left the house. However, whenever we contemplate opportunities outside of the home, we must first consider what consequences they might have on our families. That includes our motives for working outside the home. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are my reasons for considering this opportunity? Are they selfish or God-honoring?
  2. Will pursuing this venture glorify God and honor the gospel?
  3. Is this an undertaking that will help my husband?
  4. Will it enhance and enrich the lives of my family?
  5. Does this endeavor hinder my role as caretaker of my home?

Let us remember, though, Scripture doesn’t say that wives and mothers are sinning if they work outside the home. Let that be clear! There will be some women in circumstances that do not allow them the choice. However, our PRIORITY should always be to our husband, children, and home first.

In all of this, we must know where our ability to do this comes from. Psalm 28:7 says, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts and I am helped.” God is the One who has called you to be a homemaker, and He will supply all the strength you need as you look to Him (107).

Scripture has provided a job description for us as managers of our homes, and it is surprisingly simple: We are to be our husband’s helper. (Genesis 1:26-31, 2:7-25, 1 Cor. 11:8-9) We can easily determine what we should do and how we should do it by asking ourselves: “What will most help my husband?” As Douglas Wilson puts it, “The man needs THE help, the woman needs TO help” (109). That is our God given role and God-equipped nature.

  • How is your attitude at home while you are “homemaking?” Would your husband and family describe you as happy?

REMEMBER: Proverbs 31:13 says “she works with her hands in delight!”

The tasks have to get done, you might as well make them fun!

The goal of all of this is so our homes can actually be a showcase for the gospel. In God’s economy, homemaking is a high and noble calling!

Our homes should be our families’ safe haven. It is our responsibility to make that happen.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Ask your husband what you can do that will be MOST helpful to him this week.
  2. What is one new skill of homemaking you’d like to acquire?
  3. Keep this as a constant issue of prayer in every season of your life.