Example Inspires Generosity

In Matthew 5:39, 40, 41, the Kindness that expresses Patient Endurance appears in acts of overwhelming Generosity: turning the other cheek; giving cloak as well as coat; walking another mile. Only Christ's example justifies such excess.

Christ died for the ungodly… Rarely will anyone die for a righteous person… But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:6).

Pope Francis says love "shows its fruitfulness"—the Fruit of the Spirit—when it lets us "experience the… grandeur of spending ourselves unstintingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving" (Joy of Love 94).

We experience divine life when we are generous simply because Jesus was. Then we experience ourselves as the risen Jesus, who is acting with us, in us, and through us. That is the "Fruit of the Spirit."

In Mark 10:23 a man was looking for more than "Ten Commandment goodness." Jesus suggested an act of Generosity so extreme it would be an experience of divine life: "Sell what you own, and give the money to the poor." When the man "went away sad," Jesus said the rich could hardly enter the kingdom of God.

His shocked disciples asked: “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus answered, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

Those living God's divine Life have the Generosity that is a Fruit of the Spirit—if they follow Christ's example.

To radiate Generosity, live by the example of Jesus.

Kindness Is Divine

Jesus teaches us not just to endure evil, but to respond to it actively, with Kindness. Pope Francis says this word "makes it clear that 'Patience' is not a completely passive attitude, but one accompanied by activity, by a dynamic and creative interaction [relationship] with others." Jesus suggests turning the other cheek; giving up coat and cloak; walking another mile. Francis says Kindness is characteristic of a person who “shows goodness by deeds," with "love that benefits and helps others… love ready to be of assistance" (Matthew 5:39, 40, 41; The Joy of Love 93).

If we are Christians who "live by the Spirit," we focus on what we can do for others, not on what others are doing to us. So when anyone imposes on us, our immediate reaction is to be kind. But why? Why should we value relationship with others over every other value?

Because God does. God’s Life is relationship: Three Persons interacting with each other in Love.

Ah, but for God that is easy! All Three Persons are perfectly lovable. But how can humans value relationship with people who don’t respect our rights, who do us violence?

When Scripture uses Kindness to describe God's dealings with humans, it is kindness to everyone, but above all to those who do not deserve it. Our Kindness is his Kindness shared with us by the Spirit. It shows we are living by the Spirit; living divine life, trying to live and love like God.

That is the reason.

To show Kindness, be divine.

Priorities Give Patient Endurance

Impatience comes from frustration, being blocked from achieving what we desire. If other people are responsible, we feel like punishing them.

We show human patience if we reprove them without anger, saying only what it is true, doing or requiring only what is fair. But Patient Endurance, the divine "Fruit of the Spirit," calls us to respond with two other Fruits of the Spirit: Kindness, and Generosity (to examine later).

What makes Patient Endurance possible are the priorities taught by Jesus. We are frustrated when we cannot get what we want. Jesus teaches us to prefer something we can always get, which is to make credible our desire for relationship. No matter what another does or fails to do, we respond in a way that says good relationship with that person is more important to us than whatever the person did or failed to do.

Obviously, it takes two to relate. Even God cannot preserve the relationship of shared life with someone choosing to do what is incompatible with it—"mortal sin." But God's "enduring love" (hesed and emet, Exodus 34:6; John 1:17) responds even to evil with actions that reveal his desire to restore the relationship, climaxing in the Patient Endurance of Jesus's crucifixion.

Jesus says no earthly good should be worth more to us than good relationship with another. He mentions three specifically: the respect due us, our possessions, our time (Matthew 5:39, 40, 41). He tells us to make relationship our first priority. This enables Patient Endurance.

To show Patient Endurance, prioritize.