Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
A Teaching on Kindness
Rande Wayne Smith
D.Min., Th.M., M.Div.
[ NOTE: Scroll for the attached file of the complete text below ]
KINDNESS : “Love is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Corinth was apparently an unkind city, & it looks as if the Corinthian Church could have been an unkind Church. Coming there as a visitor we might not have wanted to stay.
Members of the congregation were taking each other to court & asserting their rights. One member was suing another & the whole Church was dividing into sides. (1 Corinthians 6:7) There was sexual immorality going on, & nobody was doing a thing about it. (1 Corinthians 5:1) The wealthy were coming to the Lord’s Table with big picnic baskets full of food, while the poor could hardly afford a piece of bread
… & the wealthy didn’t care. (1 Corinthians 11:33) ... No one was exhibiting any trace of kindness.
And yet, truth be told, we don’t live in a very kind world today anymore than they did back in Corinth.
Ours is a society that’s bent on rapidly becoming as unkind in its’activities as possible.
There are wonderful exceptions, of course, but everyday we’re seeing & being affected by lots & lots of acts of unkindness.
We’re experiencing it everywhere in our society …
people being rude, disrespectful, & just downright mean. We pin labels or derogatory phrases on people,
not caring that those terms can be truly hurtful.
Followers of Jesus particularly must care about others.
And we’re seeing rudeness being demonstrated with this whole COVED 19 issue. The Art Gallery down in Nashvillerequires that masks be worn. Last weekend a couple pushed right past the greeter bluntly stating that they can go anywhere theywant, anyway they want.
I like to challenge people to take the qualities found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians that are called “fruits of the Spirit” … “the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, humility, & self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23) … & rate themselves.
A man from one congregation that I served came to me saying that he accepted that challenge. He told me,
“You know, I came out pretty good …but I discovered that I’m not very kind.”
Are you a kind person? …
Before answering that, let’s look at the word “kind”.
It’s one of those words that have almost become colorless in our vocabulary. What do we mean when we use the word “kind”? Let me suggest that kindness is the practical expression of what’s in one’s heart.
If my heart is filled with hatred & bitterness,
if it contains vengeance & resentment, then it follows that I’ll become a volcano, spewing out things that’ll be the opposite of kindness. But, if the love of Christ is in my heart, then I won’t be a volcano of evil things but rather a fountain of compassionate things.
Kindness is treating a person, not as they deserve to be treated, but as they need to be treated.
There’s an enormous difference between the 2.
God has not treated us as we “deserve” to be treated; He has treated us as we “need” to be treated.
Kindness emerges from the revelation of God.
The God of the Scriptures is uniquely a kind God. When God speaks & acts … He expresses Himself in kindness.
In Exodus we read about God revealing Himself to the Hebrews. He carries on a conversation with Moses. And in response, Moses asks God who He is & what He wants the people to know about Him.
So, “the LORD came down in a cloud, stood with him there, & pronounced his holy name, the LORD.
The LORD then passed in front of him & called out,
‘I, the LORD am a God who is full of mercy, who is kind, who doesn’t become angry quickly, who has great love & faithfulness & is kind to 1,000’s of people.’” (Exodus 34:5-6)
Those are some of the most important words found inScripture. You see, the gods of all the other nations were considered to be unkind. They were vengeful.
And now, here comes Israel, saying to the world,
“our God is entirely different.”
He “is not easily angered.”
This was a totally new recognition.
Those words are the foundation of our understanding of the LORD. He is “a loving & merciful God, always patient, always kind.” (Jonah 4:2)
Some of us grew up with fathers who were unkind.
They were abusive. Some of us had very kind fathers,
who took us in their arms & affirmed us.
Psychologists say that it’s not uncommon to form a view of God that’s similar to our view of our fathers.
In the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus teaching about kindness. “But I tell you who hear me: Love your
enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, & pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on one cheek, let him hit the other one too; if someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to everyone who asks you for something, & when someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back.
Do for others just what you want them to do unto you.” (Luke 6:27-31)
All of us have heard those words so many times they’vepractically lost their punch. But I’m sure when Jesus 1st said this everybody’s mouth must have dropped open. … Who can live this way? …
Jesus taught a faith that was radical in its’ responses in our dailywords & deeds.
Listen to how Jesus says His followers should live.
“Love your enemies & do good to them; lend & expect nothing back. You will then have a great reward,
& you will be children of the Most High God. …
Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)
As I was trying to acquaint myself with The Community Church Of Bean Blossom I read your Core Beliefs, of which I cangive a hearty “amen”!
Then I went down to you Denominational Clarifications,
& saw this …
The scriptures teach us to love our enemies, do good to them, &leave judgment to God (Matthew 5:38-45; Romans 12:17-21; 1 Peter 3:9).
We believe that followers of Jesus should live out these teachings.
We believe that followers of Jesus
should live out His teachings!
That’s a statement that should be permanently,
prominently displayed in the sanctuary of every Church in Christendom! And practiced by every believer.
Jesus & the disciples are traveling through Samaria.
Darkness comes & the disciples ask the villagers if they can stay the night. The villagers say “no”. They don’t want them. The 12, who obviously have a lot to learn about kindness, ask Jesus, “Do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54)
How do you react to people who treat you badly? …
The disciples acted unkindly. Their feelings had been hurt, so their immediate reaction was to strike back.
At another time the issue wasn’t hospitality,
but children. Jesus is very busy & the disciples show unkindness when mothers bring their children to Him.
The disciples turn them away, but Jesus says,
“Let the children come to me, & do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14)
And this busy, busy, busy Messiah shows kindness towards the children.
And even in the final moments of Jesus’ earthly life, when He’s on the cross between 2 criminals.
Initially they both insulted Him, right along with the chief priests & the teachers of the Law & the elders,
& even the people who were passing by. (Matthew 27:39.41,44)
But suddenly one of the criminals stops, “& he said to Jesus, ‘Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!’”
“Jesus said to him, ‘I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.’” (Luke 23:42-43)
Sometimes when we’re stressed over some issue,
we become especially irritable with those around us. Yet, here’s Jesus, in the midst of dying, under unimaginable stress & pain, & He’s being kind to another person …a person who just moments before even mocked Him!
One of the marks that God’s presence is established in us is kindness.
It’s seen in the way we treat the people around us.
“Be kind & tender-hearted to one another.” (Ephesians 4:32)He writes,
“look out for one another’s interests,bnot just for your own.” (Philippians 2:4)
Kindness, not only in the way we treat each other bbut also, in the way we communicate.
I’m amazed at how quickly we’re ready to be negative with others & criticize. This is a growing pattern even in the Christian community. It’s the tendency to think the worst of everybody’smotives. We do it with our leaders, our spouses, our children, our friends …
& that doesn’t demonstrate the love of Christ.
you only hurt yourself.” (The Proverbs 11:17)
That means that, more often than not, when I am kind,
God will assure that kindness will somehow come back to me. It will be rewarded.
Now your Pastor & I have a couple of things in common.
So, I thought it appropriate that I should tell one of my favorite Gordon-Conwell stories to conclude this message.
I arrived on campus in September 1976. And as I was walking from the main building over to the library,
And then he went on his way, leaving me standing there with my mouth hanging open.
I soon discovered that this was Dr. Christy Wilson.
Dr. Wilson is the most Christ-like person I’ve ever met. I believe that if Jesus had lived to be 70-years-old,
He would have been like Christy Wilson.
Dr. Wilson was my professor of Mission & Evangelism,
& went home to be with his Lord a couple years before Jeff started at Gordon-Conwell.
It seems that every May Dr. Wilson would go to the Registrar’s office & get the names & pictures of all the incoming students & he’d pray each day during the summer for them.
And then when we showed up in September, he knew us!
Dr. Wilson & his wife spent many years as Presbyterian missionaries in Kabul, Afghanistan where he was the Pastor of the only Christian Church of that city.
It was a small congregation, but it was there,
& it was a wonderful witness to the love of Jesus Christ.
Some of you may remember when Afghanistan was being intimidated & occupied by the Russian government. And for a # of years it was a totally dominated Communist country.
One day word came to the members of the Church in Kabul that their building was being confiscated.
It was a lovely building, built with their own hands,
& now it was going to be destroyed.
(Imagine if some of you were involved in the construction of this building how you’d feel?)
No one believed that the government would really do that, but, when the day came closer it was clear that they fully intended to carry out that order.
All over the world Christians prayed
for that congregation.
I remember vividly back in Indiana, PA, at my home-church, Graystone Church, one Sunday morning we actually went to our knees praying for the Christians in Kabul. We sent a telegram to the Afghanistan government asking that the building be saved & those Christians not be persecuted.
But for some reason God chose not to answer those prayers. On the 17 July 1973, at the appointed hour the bulldozers came down the road to destroy the building. A couple of weeks later word arrived back in the U.S. that the church building had been leveled
… nothing was left.
Later we learned what that congregation did on that day they watched their beautiful building, the one they had worshiped in, the one they’d built, being destroyed.
Do you know what they did? … They set up a table & served tea & pastries to the men who destroyed their church building! Do you understand? … They were kind to those men. To the moment the last brick was turned over by a bulldozer … they exhibited kindness there.
You & I are recipients of kindness, & God expects us,
in our own lives, to exhibit kindness. He wants us to be kind to each other, to our families, to our friends,
to strangers, & even to our enemies. “Love is kind.”
I want to be a kind person. How about you?
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