by Melvin Newland
Two weeks ago I started a series of sermons based on 1 Corinthians 13, & we began to consider what Paul said was “the most excellent way” to live. And that “most excellent way” is the way of love.
In the first 3 verses of chapter 13, Paul said that love is more important than spiritual gifts, or knowledge, or faith, or generosity, or even a willingness to die for Christ. For even if we had all that, but did not have love, they would be as empty & useless as beating a gong outside a pagan temple.
Going on to vs. 4, Paul tells us that love is patient, that love has a long fuse, love is slow to boil, love counts down before it blasts off. Then he tells us that “love is kind.” And that is what I want us to consider this morning.
If you were describing our world, would you describe it as a kind world? As we look at the things going on in our world we would probably answer “No.”
I heard a story about a woman who was standing at a bus stop. She had just cashed her tax refund check, so she was carrying more money than usual & was a little bit nervous about that.
She glanced around & noticed a shabbily dressed man standing nearby. And as she watched, she saw a man walk up to him, hand him some money, & whisper something in his ear.
She was so touched by that act of kindness that she decided to do the same. In a burst of generosity, she reached into her purse, took out $10, handed it to the man, & whispered to him, “Never despair, never despair.”
The next day when she came to the bus stop, there he was again. But this time he walked up to her & handed her $110. Dumbfounded, she asked, “What’s this?” He said, “You won, lady. Never Despair paid 10 to 1.”
Now I can’t promise that every act of kindness will pay 10 to 1. At times kindness may even cost you something, & require sacrifices on your part.
So with that in mind, let’s look at a couple of the clearest examples of kindness in the Bible. They are found in Luke 8:40-56. In this passage we see Jesus showing kindness to two people who are entirely different.
One is a man & the other is a woman. One is an outcast, poor & unknown. The other is rich & influential & the ruler of a synagogue. And yet, Jesus treats both of them with great kindness.
By the time of this story, Jesus had gained a great deal of fame & was at the pinnacle of his popularity. People respected Him as a healer & a teacher, & crowds were swarming around Him wherever He went.
But despite the pressures of popularity, despite the crowds constantly pushing in around Him, despite all the demands on His time, Jesus, in His kindness, stopped everything He was doing to help them & to meet their needs.
Cal Thomas wrote, “Love talked about is easily ignored. But love demonstrated is irresistible.” Jesus not only talked about love & kindness, but He modeled it for us, too.
So let’s look & see the ways Jesus showed kindness to them, because I think those are the ways that we need to learn to show kindness today.
I. JESUS EXPRESSED KINDNESS BY LISTENING TO THEM
First of all, Jesus expressed kindness by listening to people, by paying attention to their needs.
Listen to Luke 8:40-42. “Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed Him, for they were all expecting Him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came & fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about 12, was dying. As Jesus was on His way, the crowds almost crushed Him.”
Now we’re not told where Jesus was going. Probably He was on His way to some open place where He could teach & preach to the crowds surging around Him. And that was something very important to do.
But as soon as Jairus came & told Him about his daughter, the very next words we read are “As Jesus was on his way…” Evidently, Jesus immediately changed directions & started following Jairus because this little girl’s situation was much more pressing than whatever else He had scheduled.
By the way, how well do you handle interruptions? Some people work best when they can concentrate on one thing & see it through to completion. They do not normally do 2 or 3 things well at the same time.
So if they are concentrating, & someone interrupts them, they consider that an intrusion. They do not normally handle interruptions well. Maybe you don’t either.
But as you get older you learn that sometimes interruptions are sent by God, opportunities to minister that you would miss if you ignored them.
If you just go on with your project & don’t allow yourself to be interrupted if you aren’t flexible enough to change directions & go in another way you will miss great opportunities that God may place before you.
Jesus paid attention to Jairus & changed His plans & direction. But Jairus was not the only interruption, & Jesus was flexible & kind enough to pause & meet another need as they were on their way to Jairus’ house.
Listen to vs’s 43-46, “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind Him & touched the edge of His cloak, & immediately her bleeding stopped.
“‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding & pressing against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.'”
There were crowds of people surrounding them, & everyone was in a hurry. Yet Jesus was able to differentiate between the touch of the crowd & the personal touch of the woman who needed His help.
Our world is becoming more & more impersonal, isn’t it? Go to a gasoline service station & you don’t even have to talk to anybody anymore. Just put your card in the slot, pump the gas, & you can drive away without ever looking at another human being. And its the same way at the bank, isn’t it?
How about the airlines? In any major city, call & you’ll hear a computerized voice, “If you want information regarding departing flights, press 1. For arriving flights, press 2.” You press 1, & it says, “If you know your flight number, press 1.”
You press 1 again, & it says, “Enter your flight number.” You punch that in, & the computerized voice then tells you the correct gate #. You never have to talk to another living, breathing, human being. It’s become a very impersonal world.
Can you imagine what would happen if they did this to “911”? You dial 911 & hear, “If your emergency is a murder, press 1. If it is a burglary, press 2. If the burglar is still in the house, press 3. If he has a gun, press 4 real quick.”
I don’t know what we are coming to, do you? It has become a very impersonal world. But Jesus took time to stop in the midst of a crowd to give a woman His personal attention as though she was the only one there.
II. JESUS EXPRESSED KINDNESS BY BEING CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS
Then, secondly, Jesus expressed kindness by being considerate of others. Vs’s 47-48 tell us, “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling & fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him & how she had been instantly healed.
“Then He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'”
We need to realize that because of her disease she was considered unclean & therefore was an outcast. They treated her like they treated someone with leprosy. So because of that, she had not been living with her family for 12 years.
Her self esteem must have been as low as it could possibly be. So Jesus surprises her, first of all, by stopping & listening to her story of woe. I think we have a very condensed version of the story that she told. I mean, this is probably the first time in a long time that she really had anyone’s attention.
So I imagine that she poured out her heart to Him, & Jesus listened. And by listening, by looking at her, by paying attention to her he was displaying real kindness.
Are you a good listener? Most of us probably aren’t. We pass each other & say “How are you?” And we expect an automatic, “I’m fine.” But have you ever been caught off guard & someone really told you just how they felt?
A friend of mine recalls that he once said, “How are you?” to a lady, & she replied, “You don’t want to know.” He says, “She was right. I really didn’t have time to listen to her just then. I was hurrying on to do something else.”
I think it is true, most of us really don’t take the time to listen, do we?
Erma Bombeck told about a time when she was so tired of listening. She had listened to her son tell in minute detail about a movie he had just seen, punctuated by at least 1,000 “you knows” & “okays.”
Then she had received several telephone calls filled with what she felt was mindless chatter that never seemed to end. So it was with genuine relief that she was able to tell the last caller that she just had to rush off to the airport.
She got into a taxicab, & as the taxicab driver took her to the airport, he told her all about his son who had won a scholarship to college, & how he was making straight A’s. Erma had to sit there & listen to it all.
She said, “But once I got to the airport & realized that I was 30 minutes early, I breathed a sigh of relief & thought, ‘I have 30 whole minutes when I don’t have to listen to anybody. I can just sit here & read my book & not be bothered at all.”
“But no sooner had I opened my book, when an elderly female said to me, ‘I bet it’s cold in Chicago.’ ‘I suppose,’ Erma Bombeck replied without looking up from her book.
“I haven’t been in Chicago for 3 years,” the woman said. “My son lives there.” “That’s nice,” said Erma. Then the woman continued on, “My husband’s body is on this plane. We were married for 53 years. I don’t drive, you see, & the funeral director was so nice. He drove me to the airport today.”
Erma recalls, “Her voice droned on. Here was a woman who didn’t want money or advice or counsel. All she wanted was someone to listen. And in desperation she had turned to a total stranger with her story.”
Erma Bombeck said, “She continued to talk to me until they announced that we were boarding the plane. We walked onto the plane & I saw her sit down in another section. And as I hung up my coat I heard her say to the person next to her, ‘I bet it’s cold in Chicago.'”
There are so many of us who just need somebody, sometime, to listen, just to focus on us & listen to what we have to say. And Jesus did so that day!
III. JESUS EXPRESSED KINDNESS THROUGH AN UNDERSTANDING SPIRIT
Finally, Jesus expressed kindness through an understanding spirit. Notice what it says in vs’s 49-56. “While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher any more.’
“Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’ When he arrived at the house of Jairus, He did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, John & James, & the child’s father & mother.
“Meanwhile, all the people were wailing & mourning for her. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said. ‘She is not dead but asleep.’ They laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead.
“But He took her by the hand & said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, & at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but He ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.”
Now let’s concentrate on those last few verses. The miracle is exceptional, & we praise God for it. But notice what Jesus told them after the miracle was over. He said to them, “Don’t tell anyone what has happened.”
You know, some of the most disturbing words in the English language are 4 words that we like to speak, but hate to hear. They are the words, “I told you so.” It’s fun to speak them, & we relish it when we’re the ones saying, “I told you so!” But it’s very difficult to listen to them, isn’t it?
Now remember, those people outside the house had mocked Jesus. They had laughed at Him before He went in to raise the girl back to life again.
If I were Jesus, I know what I would have done. I would have raised the girl back to life, & then I would have taken her by the hand & we would have walked up & down in front of all those mockers. And I would have said, “I told you so, I told you so.” That would have been a lot of fun.
But Jesus didn’t do that. He was concerned about how they felt, too. He didn’t try to get even with them. He didn’t try to get back at them. He didn’t try to glorify Himself.
Instead, in kindness, He tells the parents, “Don’t tell anyone what has happened here.” Sometimes it is not so much what you say as how you say it.
One preacher said, “I have never had to apologize for my position, but I have oftentimes had to apologize for my disposition.” Have you ever had to apologize for your disposition?
I love the story about the 6’10” cowboy who walked up to the counter at McDonalds, slammed down his big fist, & said to the girl behind the counter, “I want half a Big Mac.” She said, “What?” He said, “I want half a Big Mac & I want it now.”
Not being sure what to do, she said, “Excuse me for a minute.” And she headed over to her manager without realizing that the man was following her.
She got to the manager & said, “There’s a big klutz over there who is dumber than lead & he has ordered half a Big Mac.”
And just about that moment she realized that he was standing right behind her. Quickly she added, “And this gentleman wants the other half.”
Sometimes you may be put on a spot, & what you say is important. But how you say it can be even more important.
The fact that Jesus didn’t want to embarrass those who had been mocking Him, or get even with them speaks volumes, & teaches us how we are to respond to each other, too.
Some construction workers were building a high rise across the street from a hospital. As they were working on the 3rd floor they noticed a little girl standing in the 3rd floor window of the hospital watching them work.
One day they looked across & saw the little girl hold up a poster that said, “My name is Lisa. What are your names?”
So the next day the construction workers came back with some poster board & magic markers, & they all wrote down their names. “My name is Bob. My name is Bill. My name is Harry. How old are you?”
The next day the little girl held up a sign that said, “I am 7 years old. How old are you?” Well, this went on for several days.
But one day they noticed that Lisa wasn’t at her usual place in the window. So at break time one of the workers called the hospital & asked for a third floor nurse. He asked if she could tell him anything at all about Lisa.
The nurse said that Lisa had taken a turn for the worse & was now in Intensive Care. So the workers pooled their money & bought some flowers & a card & wrote a note on it, & sent it to Lisa in Intensive Care.
Several days passed, & then another sign appeared at the window, “Lisa passed away. Thank you for caring!”
Love is kind. We need to learn to be kind to one another even as God has been kind through Jesus Christ, & offered Him as a sacrifice for all our sins.
We give you the opportunity to respond to His love this morning.