93 days of summer / spirituality #4 1/2

Just ahead of finishing up our ‘spirituality’ series, we thought we’d fit in a brief talk about summer, your plans for it, and why it’s important to  schedule more than vacations and rest.

There are officially 93 days of summer. June 21-September 21. It creeps us on us quickly, and unfortunately rushes out just as fast. Like a great night on the town or a concert watching your favaourite band, summer ends too quickly. In Canada we don’t think about summer as 93 days, let’s face it, we think about July & August. Sure, we get teased with some nice weather before hand, and some warm weather in September and October, but July & August are our summer months and we try and get the most out of them.

Some of us are planners. We plan every day of the summer. We know what’s coming, how much it will cost, and how to make the best of it. Others of us just let the summer happen, hoping that we can have a little fun and rest somewhere along the way.

Other than the vacations you’ve planned, the rest you’re hoping for, the fun you’ve written into your calendar, will you think about intentionally adding two more words to your summer?

Here’s our summer challenge: Two Months / Two Words. Kindness & Hospitality.

Following up last week’s conversation on the Fruit of the Spirit, we can honestly focus on any one of those words. Kindness, perhaps more than the others, surprises people the most. What you’ll notice with Kindness, as with the others, is that it’s something we receive from God and then extend it forward to others.

There are 56 references to kindness in the Scripture (link)

In the Old Testament, some are in reference to memory, some are reciprocal (as in, ‘you showed me kindness so I will show you kindness’), like a returning gift. We often see God showing kindness even though we (Israel) don’t deserve it.

In the New Testament it shows up in various forms. In Acts 4, healing is seen an act of kindness from God and the one praying, In Acts 17 God’s kindness is seen in the form of provision, In Acts 28 we read, The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. This is evidence of the good in people – it’s there, we just have to discover it. Romans 2 says that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance. In Colossians 3 it’s seen as a piece of clothing we put on. Titus 3 may be a favourite, At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. 

So…how do we ensure that kindness gets deep within us? Take time this summer to read and pray through those texts of scripture that focus on God’s kindness. Take some time, while on vacation, while at the beach, while at the cottage, during early morning sunrises or late evening sun sets…to think about God’s kindness to you. Be thankful for how God expresses this kindness towards you and the world around you. Then, as you’re reflecting on that…will you creatively think about how you can be kind to others? This might take a bit of prayer and bit of thoughtful creativity. Be looking, in every moment you find yourself in, for ways to be kind to others – those you love and those who are harder to love.

Why Hospitality? Because it’s showed to us and then flows out of us, just like kindness!

We read these straight forward words in Romans 12, Practice hospitality.
The writer of Hebrews (13) says, Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
3 John 1 says, We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.
1 Peter 4 says this, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

In my home province of Quebec, on June 24, they celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day. As you can imagine, like most holidays, It’s used for stuff like fireworks, a day at the beach, lots of parties with lots of “fun”, etc. But listen to what John the Baptist actually said…(Luke 3:11) “Anyone who has two shirts should share with one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

It’s pretty evident that this is our calling as followers of Christ – In light of the hospitality shown to us by God, we should in turn be hospitable to others.

How can you be kind and hospitable this summer? How can you extend God’s grace to others? Think about at least 4 places to live out these words

  • home (sometimes the toughest place to show this)
  • neighbourhood (walk across the street, invite someone to your home)
  • work (talk to that guy or girl who no one else pays much attention too)
  • church community (pray about who may need something that you have abundance of)

Be intentional about it, plan it, do it, and see what God does with it.

Intention opens the door to forward motion. (Seth Godin)

So, as you plan your summer vacation, your days at the beach, your R&R events…can you add these two words your summer story: KINDNESS & HOSPITALITY. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn out to be the best summer you’ve ever had!

Spirituality #4 – Fruit?

I’ve tried my hand at gardening. The verdict is still out if I’ll be successful. Things are growing, but time will tell if we’ll actually eat some fresh food from our garden. My bet is yes!!!

So many of us don’t really consider how much work it takes to get food to and on our table. We go to the fridge to grab an apple or the counter to grab a banana, but think about all that went in to that fresh food getting to your table?

The average person can’t tell what kind of tree they’re looking at until the fruit or the leaves start to show. We sometimes use this metaphor when talking about character and personality. We can try and tell people what kind of people we are, but it’s our fruit that really tells the story. The proof is in the pudding (as they say).

We’ve been talking about what it means to be spiritual, and what the Holy Spirit’s role is in our life. So the question is, ‘is there any spiritual fruit we are producing that reflects the spiritual work going on inside of us?’

Paul, in Galatians 5, addresses this so well. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

If someone asks you, ‘What does spirituality look like?’ I think you can show them these words and say, ‘it looks like this’.

Spirituality isn’t about pizzazz or flamboyancy. It’s about character and roots. About seeds and fruit. About who you’re becoming because of God’s Spirit in you.

Galatians 5 is about the freedom we have found in Christ. Paul is trying to move his readers away from 2 things: Reliance on the Law & the works of the Flesh. That’s the context


So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (5:16)

The words that follow this verse are strong and direct. Paul urges the Galatians to stay away from the acts of the flesh. He lists them off in verses 19-21. Some read this verse and scream legalism, but you can’t do that. It’s a serious list of DON’T’s. (Remember: Following Jesus is not about DO’s & DON’Ts, but as you follow him, you’ll have to discern between some things you DO and some things you DON’T)

What Paul is doing is setting us up for the contrast between Life in the Spirit and Life without the Spirit.

The proof is in the FRUIT 

Then comes the beautiful list of character traits that anyone would want to be known for.

But the fruit of the Spirit is…

PATIENCE (putting up with more than others can)
FAITHFULNESS (to others and to God)
SELF-CONTROL (the hardest of the bunch)

If you wanna be spiritual, then you wanna live a life that reflects what’s going on here.

The Fruit of the Spirit are very different than the Gifts of the Spirit, in that Gifts are unique to the individual. Each person has a different gift. Paul, with his fruit metaphor is saying that we are meant to have and produce all the fruit on this list. (and more) Our life should reflect the cluster of all of them.

Keep in STEP with the SPIRIT 

Paul ends with this simple phrase… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (25)

Live in stride with the Spirit, in step, in the way of the spirit. If you do, your life will not only look different, it will actually be different.

The goal of spirituality isn’t about who you think you are, it’s about who you are actually becoming.

Here’s the question: Who do you want to be? Who are you actually becoming? And is that version of you spiritual – spiritual in the way that Paul is telling us spirituality is?

May our spirituality be real, authentic, evident and healthy, tasty and fresh. May it produce fruit that only God’s Spirit can plant in us.