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Kindness

“and he raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus in order that he might demonstrate in ages that are coming, the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

(Ephesians 2:6-7)

One of the distinctly Christian ideas that Paul mentions here is the idea of kindness. The word in question is the Greek word χρηστότης (chrestotes), which speaks of how one interacts with others. In particular, it captures the notion of walking with integrity and righteousness toward other people while also having a spirit of benevolence towards them. In other words, your desire is to see them succeed and whatever they are seeking to achieve and that there is no sense of animosity that would lead you to slight that person in any way for said success.

Conceptually, the idea is simple enough, but how rarely it is genuinely practiced in the western world. How often, what is found is much more cutthroat and much more selfish. Granted, in context, Paul is speaking of the way that God acts toward believers; yet, given that we are called upon to imitate God, this is one of the areas in which we should be imitative.

So, what is the solution? The solution is simply to go out of your way to practice kindness toward others. Not only will you be imitating God, but it will demonstrate to the world that you are different because of that relationship with God and perhaps, even in these acts of kindness, you will discover that your witness speaks volumes.

Raised Us Up and Seated Us in Christ

“and he raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus in order that he might demonstrate in ages that are coming, the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

(Ephesians 2:6-7)

Here we have one of those instances where the Biblical authors speak of something that is yet to come as if it has already taken place and is a reality in our lives. In theological circles, it is what is often called a “prophetic present.” All of this is based in the realization that God is sovereign and he has ordained all things since before the foundation of the earth. And thus Paul can say that as Jesus has risen from the dead, so have we. We have not yet experienced that reality in its fullness, but Christ’s resurrection is an iron-clad promise that we too, who are in Christ, will rise. And further, that the regeneration that we have experienced in coming to faith — our sin dead spirit being brought to live — is a foretaste of something greater that is yet to come, but that will come in the ages that are coming.

Notice too, the language about the riches of God’s grace. This, we have spoken already above, but notice the context in which Paul is making this statement. Just in verse 5, he has spoken of being saved by grace. We did not earn God’s grace, it is free to us. Yet Paul wants us to see that God is no ordinary benefactor. Not only does God graciously save us, but that he pours out the blessings of his grace to us in Christ. 

“In Christ,” though, is the operable phrase. Too many people over the ages have read this and thought of God having a storehouse of good treasures that he is waiting to pour into our lives if we just ask. They tell us of wealth and success and fame, and people fall for it over and over. No, my friends, these riches are riches that are found in Christ. They are the riches that come from a deepening relationship with him, not from earthly or worldly comforts that will be consumed or lost to time. God’s gift to us in Christ is one that grows and deepens every day of our lives, but if we are really going to enjoy the treasure that it is, it means we must nurture that gift with Bible study and prayer. 

Yet, may I humbly suggest that is the way we ought to receive any gift, or at least, that is the way we ought to show our appreciation for the gift. That we treasure it, that we study it, and that we learn the character of the one who has given us such a gift. If we would naturally do that with earthly things, why do we disdain from doing so with heavenly things? How often we act more like spoiled children, believing that we deserve the gifts of our heavenly father rather than realizing that we deserve nothing but wrath and that He has instead given us Christ and offered us the riches of heaven which we will one day enjoy, ruling alongside of our Divine bridegroom and Lord.