Aloha Friday Message – February 19, 2016 – Lenten Series #2

1608AFC021916 – 2016 Lenten Series #2

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Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea. Much love to you, Belovéd. Today we continue with our series on the cardinal sins and virtues and take a look at the virtue of kindness and it’s opposite, envy. At first one might ask, “How are these opposites? Isn’t the opposite of Kindness … Meanness?” Today we will look at the Biblical meanings of these words and compare or contrast them with the worldly view. As we begin, here again is a reminder of the content of this series:

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We all have a pretty good idea of what kindness looks like. We know stories about homeless people being fed or clothed or sheltered. We know about funding drives to help a family pay the medical bills for a desperately ill family member. We know about paying it forward at the drive-through. We know about Ephesians 4:32. But what do we think of when we hear about the Kindness of God? In the Psalms we often read about God’s kindness and mercy. There is one example:

Psalm 117:2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us:
and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.

Praise ye the Lord. (Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV))

For great is his steadfast love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the Lord
endures forever.
Praise the Lord!

There are several words or phrases that are all from the same root words, but are translated differently. In the Old Testament for example, the word most often used for kindness is חָ֫סֶד checed {kheh’-sed}. This word can be translated as mercy, kindness, lovingkindness, goodly, kindly, goodness, or merciful. One of my favorite examples is in Proverbs 31:26 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. This is part of the passage we refer to when we say, “She’s a Proverbs 31 Woman.” (You know who you are out there!) In the New Testament, there are a couple of Greek words used for kindness. For example we read in Acts 28:2 The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us around it.  The word used there is one we readily recognize: φιλανθρωπίαν philanthropia {fil-an-thro-pee’-ah} – yes, philanthropy! This is translated as kindness, love of humanity, benevolence, compassion, generosity, or goodwill. There is another root word with which we are familiar: φιλαδελφίαν, philadelphian {fil-ad-el-fee’-ahn} φιλαδελφίαν (philadelphian). You may recognize this as one of the several words derived from one of the Greek words for Love – PHILIA φιλία (philia) {fil-i-ah}. When we think of these things, we think of ways that we are good to one another by being helpful, generous, charitable, loving, and – yes – kind. We know what it means.

We are called to be kind because God is kind. Way too many people for way too long have tried to characterize God as a mean, stingy, vindictive old man. He does get angry, and he does act on that anger, but you might say “he’s got a long fuse.” It may be hundreds, even thousands, of years before God takes corrective action to chastise and reform humanity; but, it is always done out of love and with the goal of restoring us to a right relationship with him. It is that “steadfast love” of which David speaks. Unwavering, resolute, reliable, constant, unassailable LOVE. That’s what is behind the Virtue of kindness. It is a type of selfless sacrifice that puts the welfare of other equal to – or usually above – our own. Kindness happens when we choose to forego one Good in our own lives so that others can have a Good in their lives.

This is, as we would expect, in sharp contrast to Envy. We call it “the green monster”  or say “s/he was green with envy” and think of the work jealousy. Look back at the root words in Scripture, in the Old Testament the word most frequently used is קִנְאָה qin’ah {kin-aw’}  and sometimes תְּ֭קַנֵּא tə·qan·nê {tə-kah-neh}. This word qin’ah describes the color-change that takes place in our faces when we experience an intense emotion. Greeks believed that envy – jealousy – caused an increase in the secretion of bile, and that gave one’s complexion a yellow-green “bilious” color. That color of green is also associated with being sick – “You’re looking a little green around the gills.”

The first use of the word envy is in Job 5:2 Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple. Envy is a strongly-motivating emotion. When we see and understand that we are lacking some object, quality, or status which someone else has, we react with hatred directed at them. Jealousy, on the other hand, is a behavior that is more inwardly directed; we fear we have lost or can lose attention, affection, affiliation, or approval from another person we idealize. It can be overwhelming and is often the basis of what we call “poor self-image.” For example we read in Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who is able to stand before jealousy?

Envy was the downfall of Lucifer (see Isaiah 14:12-14 and Luke 10:18) Envy seeks to elevate self by deprecating and condemning others. It is closely related to Pride. It is not steadfast love, but instead steadfast hatred, one step above complete indifference. One familiar Old Testament example is the action of Joseph’s brothers: Acts 7:9-10 The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him,10 and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favor and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Envy and jealousy can make us do incredibly hurtful things to others, and often even to ourselves; we punish ourselves for lacking something someone else has that “should belong” to us. We can also turn to persecution of someone we believe denigrates us. Think about this passage from Matthew and the outcome of what it expresses: Matthew 27:18  18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.

Kindness is also acted out by Sarah when Abraham explains in Genesis 20:13 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.’” In this case, the “kindness” was that Sarah should lie about her relationship with Abraham. “Kindness” then can sometimes be misconstrued as “doing a favor” for someone even if that behavior is wrong.

Kindness is a virtue we can cultivate by being ethical, maintaining a pleasant temperament, and acting with courtesy and respect for others. Envy is an emotion which can lead to the behavior of jealousy by which we attempt to inveigle ourselves and others to put down another person or persons because of a perceived or real difference. Take a moment to reflect on the vicious, vitriolic rhetoric we witness daily in the residential campaigns. The definitely is no kindness there!

How, then do we overcome this sin of envy and jealousy? Let’s turn again to the B.I.B.L.E. to find a good strategy. Take out your Bible and turn to 2 Peter 1:3-7 His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.

That’s right, Belovéd. The resource for this virtue is not worldly goodness, but spiritual strength obtained directly through the Power of God.  Click here to look at Psalm 119:1-3, and click here to see Psalm 128:1. When we walk in the way of the Lord, when we honor and reverence God (talking about the Trinity here), we have no room for envy or jealousy. We have everything needed for life and godliness and that promotes and fosters the virtue of Kindness. It is so simple! We walk with the Lord and simply Trust and Obey (↔ Music Link). Then we will be empowered to avoid being foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, [and] hating one another.

Next week we will look at two of the most misunderstood characteristics of human morality – Gluttony and Temperance. Until then …

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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