Let God-in-Us Deal With the Mean-Spirited

by Wayne Barber

God produces His love in us for others, especially with people who are intolerable. This love is characterized in Galatians 5:22,23 by joy, and peace, patience. All these characteristics of His love emanate from Him. Christ in us manifests His character through us. But His love is accompanied by His kindness.

You see, we are not talking about a grin-and-bear-it attitude because Christ living in and through us does not grin and bear it! His love is powerful and is manifested in the spirit of kindness towards others-especially those who are mean-spirited in the body of Christ. The word for kindness is chre\stte\s in the Greek. It does not necessarily refer to what one does to show love for someone, but to the tender heart with which he does it. It is associated with the love of Christ in Titus 3:4: "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared."

Chre\stte\s is a beautiful word. God's love so tenderizes us when we walk by the Spirit! He takes the sting out of our hearts towards others who have treated us wrongly. There is nothing that the intolerable individual in the body of Christ or anywhere else can hold against us when Christ is manifesting His kindness through us.

Chre\stte\s is the word used for wine that has mellowed (Luke 5:39: "And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough.'"). It is so wonderful when God's people walk by the Spirit. They are always looking out for the needs of others instead of themselves. They rejoice inwardly with the knowledge that God is in control. Outwardly, they realize that people are not always going to be nice. So, along with love, joy, and peace, they have God's patience as they bear with the ugly way in which they are treated. And their hearts are so tenderized by God's Spirit that people are softened and disarmed just by being around them. Chre\stte\s comes from chre\sts-translated "easy" in Matthew 11:30: "For My yoke is easy."

Even our Lord's commandments are not burdensome to the one who is seeking to live under His Lordship: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).  What a wonderful life Christ lives through us when we yield to Him: a life characterized by His love, His joy, His peace, His patience, and His kindness towards others. 

In Galatians 5:22,23 Paul begins to show how God's love is manifested towards others. His next word is goodness: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness." "Goodness" is agatho\sne\, which refers to the actual deeds done that are totally benevolent to others-specially those who don't deserve it. God-in-us directs us to do for them what they need!

It is this agatho\sne\ that baffles pagans who are in authority. Paul says, in Romans 13:3: "Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same." It's this act of goodness that overcomes evil. Romans 12:19-21: "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Goodness can be manifested through what you say: "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear" (Eph. 4:29). It is amazing how some people who are mean spirited, opinionated, even obnoxious are so disarmed when God's love in you says words to them that bring healing. God's love in us is inwardly effective but it is also outwardly sufficient to minister to those who treat us wrongly.

Are you experiencing God's love in your life?  Saying yes to Christ and to His will releases His love in us that no one can deny.

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church

in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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