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“Let your generous kindness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand…” (Philippians 4:5)
In the Name + of Jesus. AMEN. When we are confident of possessing something, of having it in our hands, we don’t have a need to convince ourselves and others with a lot of obnoxious talk about what’s ours. Those who are uncertain about what they possess work hard, often painfully hard, to establish certainty and recognition of what’s theirs and what they’ve got. And that’s the point of our text. Generous kindness, as used in Philippians 4:5, means the confidence of being a child of God. A child of God who possesses Gods riches and truth, and lives in this confidence. God’s own child, I gladly say it, I am baptized into Christ.
Baptized we possess a Savior who is Advented, who comes for us, born for us, lives for us, dies in our place, gives us forgiveness, life, and salvation. In Him we receive everything and more for this life and the life to come. Our lives and our achievements are nothing if they are not being lived toward the fulfillment of Christ’s second advent on the Last Day. He will come with glory to judge both the living and the dead.
All that we then receive from God are great possessions. But are we sure that we have them? If we look at ourselves and what we can hold onto and possess with our hands we will have our doubts about whether we have received all things from God as gift. But our certainty is in Christ and him alone. In Christ we have unshakable confidence that we possess all the treasures of the children of God. Our text calls us to live in the confidence of children who possess the riches of God, and it calls us to live in generous kindness toward all people.
Christian confidence doesn’t need the recognition of others. Christian confidence is grounded in Christ alone. No need to worry about others opinions of me, God calls me His child for Jesus’ sake. Don’t need any props either. No self-assertions and arguing. What’s there to argue about? Christians don’t have to show other people how wrong they are to boost their opinion of themselves. What we know to be true is the truth that we receive from Christ – and that truth needs no argument.
Only when we feel sorry for ourselves, or let others feel sorry for us, only when we accept the standards of the unfaithful and ungodly do we reject the riches God gives in Christ. When we bend toward the getting, and the possessing of things we think will prop up our lives, then we have turned away from Christ. When we look for recognition, try to climb up the social ladder, chase after more authority over others, when we hope for more power, more wealth, and push ourselves to gain the things that we imagine give our lives meaning, then we betray our discontent with being God’s children.
We are afraid that being children of God is “all there is.” We are scared we may lose out on something. We mistrust God and fear that He may deprive us of the things we really want. The things we want from Him but want to enjoy apart from Him. This is behind our lack of excitement about His second advent. We confess every Sunday that He’s coming again to judge the living and the dead, but we don’t trust God to do this, not completely.
Such distrust is rebellion. It calls God a liar and rejects our place as children of God. But you can’t have one foot in the kingdom of Christ and the other in the kingdom of men. He won’t go for that. Christ calls you out of this kingdom into His kingdom. Not just a citizen of His country, but a son and daughter. Sons and daughters of God. For a while we have to walk In this world, but we are in this world not of this world as St, Paul writes to the Roman Christians.
One day soon we will come into His kingdom. But now we are young and immature, as children are. God knows we need a lot of teaching and training in being His kind of sons and daughters, princes and princesses in fact, called to sit round the throne of our King.
And so in generous kindness our confidence is made know to all people. For our kindness and confidence is in Christ our King. There is no need for excess, for a big show, of strutting around proving to ourselves and others how good we’ve got it… and how wrong it goes for them. There is also no excess of misery. No looking for pity from ourselves and others. No need to complain about how bad things have gotten… and how much better it goes for others.
Christians live in generous kindness toward all people for Christ’s sake. As it goes with Him so it goes with us. The generous kindness of those who live from God’s abundant giving. The cheerful acceptance of what Christ puts us to now: yoke easy, burden light. We know their meaning and purpose. We bear pain and suffering and evil calmly. We know nothing of the tearful, sentimental, beaten-dog attitude toward heaven that is the coward’s escape. No, Christians live always in the confident hope and certainty of those who in Christ have received all things.
In Christ you have the certainty of sons and daughters of God. Christ’s coming, His death and resurrection promise you the victory. And so you live in victorious confidence that only His brothers and sisters possess. Christ’s second coming brings final fulfillment of His baptismal promises. And Christ, our Lord, is at hand. AMEN.