Squeals of joy awakened us on the first morning of this 4th-of-July vacation week here in Williamsburg, VA. What excitement could our boys have discovered already here in the Commonwealth? A program on the Revolution? The brochures on Jamestown? The schedule for battlefield reenactments? Our balcony here at Governor’s Green was the source of the commotion, so I slid the glass door open revealing the frenzy: a congregation of mallard ducks devouring our Captain Crunch. Yes, all 3 boys were flinging the expensive-peanut buttery-preservative filled balls out onto the lawn as feathers flew everywhere in joyful competition for the unexpected breakfast of champions. I’ll admit…it was kind of fun. But then I asked them to please stop. “Why?” they asked. “We’ve got a bunch more.” My answer: to continue to feed them would be unkind.
I could tell by the look on their faces that this made no sense. So I had to explain. Here’s the deal: “if you continue to feed the ducks, then they will not learn how to use their ability to discover their own food. Continually providing what they need will lead to their destruction as they grow to expect it.”
As a family, we focused (or tried to focus) on kindness this week. At the core of this virtue of God, kindness seeks to bless the other person. True kindness overlaps with love in releasing any motives of expecting something in return. The blessing of kindness is magnified by the fact that the other person is not expecting the blessing. If the blessing is expected, it ceases to be an opportunity for kindness. It becomes a contract, or an entitlement.
As we explained this–in more elementary terms–to the boys, they were able to see that it was an act of kindness to feed the ducks AND an act of kindness to STOP feeding the ducks. What an amazing moment to see the look on their faces in the realization that both statements are true! God is fair and just. “He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” He is kind toward us BOTH when He sends blessing AND when He stops sending blessing. He sees our futures, and He will arrange what is best for us long-term.
I’ve met some believers who refuse to acknowledge this. And there is no lack of systemic belief in North American Christianity, in particular, that God exists to bless me. That I am a worthy consumer deserving of His product. This attitude extinguishes the privilege of understanding God’s kindness. If we cling to this system of thinking, then we are left in a giant theological conundrum when we don’t receive what we were sure He had promised. Not to mention that to embrace this idea blacks out huge portions of scripture.
If you ever sing “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord” in your worship services, please don’t ignore the Bridge:
You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your Name!
To be able to sing this lyric is acknowledging His kindness. We are learning this together as a family. This week especially, I would like to suggest to our leaders a couple hours North of here that they spend time with some ducks. There just might be a National implication.
But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness… (Galatians 5:22-23)