“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)
As new creatures, God expects us to be kind. Kindness, as expressed in the Bible, is not just being "nice" or "polite." Kindness refers to how we treat them, and how we see them. Kindness infers that we treat them the way we want to be treated.
True kindness is loving others as yourself and forgiving their offenses against us just as God forgives us. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)
Solomon said, “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” (Proverbs 11:17 NIV) I tell my sons every day, “what goes around comes around.” God sends kindness back to us in proportion to the kindness we give. So be generous…abundant….even reckless in how kind you are to others and watch how it comes back. Of course, the opposite is also the case. Those that complain that no one cares about them, no one likes them or is kind to them, are almost always the very ones that are unkind.
So please consider this: We’re Christian people—we’re new creatures! “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with …..kindness…” (Colossians 3:12 NIV). I am reminding you about kindness today, because sometimes we all fail to be kind from time to time. Sometimes we get it wrong. In a little more than two years here I have heard people tell me that the like Brim’s Grove Baptist because the people are so kind. But I have heard more than one also comment that they don’t want to get too involved with our church because some folks are unkind. Now, there’s a time and a place to get angry….to correct someone….to take a stand for what is right. But there’s no place or time when we should be dismissive or unkind in how we go about our tasks, work, study, fellowship and worship here.
We have two challenges with leadership and the workers at our church—and probably most churches: One challenge is that we don’t have enough folks offering to step up and do the work, so the same folks lead and serve on committees because others won’t. But new people and repeat visitors point out that when they do try to help they’re told that we don’t need the help. I’ve heard it myself. Friends, the next time someone offers to help, let them help even if you can do it better by yourself! By allowing them to contribute in the work and invest in the life of this church, they begin to see themselves as an intimate, helpful and perhaps essential part of the body of Christ in our fellowship. Let them share in the joy of serving the Lord—no matter how small the task.
Do you do acts of random kindness at the grocery store, the bank, when you walk into this church service, or with your own children or parents? But what about your kindness to those less educated or affluent than you? What about the homeless folks right here in Stokes County? “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.Proverbs 19:17 NIV
To be kind, is simply to treat people as God treats you and me. Saint John said, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17 NIV). I helped a young lady a few months ago with a place to live for a few weeks—she was homeless. She has drug dependencies, and I eventually had to ask her to leave. But I was never unkind to her, and last night she came to my home again and asked for a tent and a sleeping bag. She has no place to sleep. Now, it’s easy to condemn someone for being without a job, particularly if they steal things so that can sell them to purchase drugs. But for the life of me, I don’t think that anyone choses to be poor, addicted to drugs, or homeless. It happens because of poor choices, perhaps, but no one wants to live like this. How can God’s love be within us if we don’t have compassion on those who have little or nothing or have made very bad choices?
So often we withhold kindness, perhaps waiting for a person to “earn it”. But Christian kindness requires that you love people more than they deserve. Why, because that’s the kindness that God shows to us every single day! Don’t ask God to treat you like you treat everyone else—-that’s a dangerous prayer no matter how devout you are! Rather ask God to remind you of the kindness He shows you each time you’re tempted to withhold kindness.
Think about this: Are you known as one that spreads kindness? When you are not there, do others note that a very sweet and kind soul is absent, and they’re all the poorer because of it? Mother Theresa once said:“Spread the kindness of Christ everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” Is that your motto and mantra? Is that what you’re known for?
My youngest son and I went to Sam’s Warehouse recently for some supplies. But once inside the cavernous store Tyler, who was eight, asked if he could go look at some toys. I reluctantly let him go and started getting what I needed. (I suppose that a proper father would never do this, but it seemed okay at the time.)
After thirty minutes of shopping he came running to my cart as I was checking out talking about all the people he had talked to, and I recall thinking, “What kind of dad (myself) would let a child wander around talking to strangers.” And then I saw a merchant rushing toward us from the back of the store, waving his hand with some package he had in his hand. I blurted out to Tyler, “What did you break!?” But the merchant surprised me by handing me a box of pastries and explained to me that he wanted to give them to Tyler as a gift, because of how friendly, helpful and polite he had been when he sampled the merchant’s product. I was both humbled and proud of Tyler—who was, of course, beaming with self-satisfaction that someone was responding to his kindness.
A few moments later, as we were walking to the truck with our purchases, Tyler noticed a elderly Black lady in a car with what must have been her granddaughter—a little girl four or five years old. Their car windows were down and Tyler loudly proclaimed, “Daddy, look at that little girl! Isn’t she pretty.” I glanced and noticed that had little girl had colorful ribbons in her hair and that she was smiling at my little boy. But it was the grandmother that got excited. She perked up, smiled broadly and replied, “Well, what a handsome boy you are.” And that’s all it took. Tyler bolted to the car, put his little elbows on the door with the rolled down window and began to chat with the little girl and her grandmother like they were old friends!
My little boy accomplished what many pastors, social workers, teachers and protestors do not. He made a vendor at Sam’s, along with a young girl and her grandmother, feel very special—and he made them smile and glad to be alive for a few moments. He was simply kind to them—he had no agenda, made no attempt to “understand them”, was blind to their vocation, color and gender. He was merely, and sincerely, happy to talk to them—and they knew his innocent love, gentleness and friendliness came from his heart, not his political or social aspirations.
How refreshing to see an eight-year-old behave like adults should….
But part of the lack of kindness, everywhere, seems to also come from a culture of cynicism and skepticism. We assume that when someone’s nice to us they want something from us, and being over protective parents, we teach our children not only to avoid strangers but we bombard them with some much bad news about the mean, angry, dangerous people “out there”, that they come afraid that any acts of kindness might be perceived as vulnerability!
To be kind is to be ever lifting up the other person; unkindness is constantly putting the other down.
Some folks have a difficult time with this. I’ve heard people say, “I have a hard time putting up with so and so”, or “I just don’t like him”, or “I just can’t deal with her…”
And indeed, I have said the same things. But I am required to have the love of God in my heart to all people, and yet I’ve often heard it said, “You don’t have to like them.” But I no longer believe this. I am not obligated to like what you do, say or believe, but I am still under a mandate from God to be kind to you—-and that involves learning to “like” you. Why? Read the Bible! We’re supposed to treat others like we want to be treated! And unless you’re a maniac or a terrorist, or mentally unhealthy, you want to be liked and respected. Jesus appreciated the fact that hundreds of folks liked Him and what He said. He did not pander to them, or beg them to like Him, but being a man He obviously appreciated kindness shown to Him—as when they poured perfume on His head or washed His feet. In the first place , like people and be kind because it’s what God tells us to do!
The second thing to consider is that as a new creature, it is your destiny to be kind—that’s one of the attributes of a mature Christian. You weren’t saved to become a grumbling, griping, petulant part of God’s family ! We’re supposed to be Christ’s vicars—His ambassadors of kindness and approval. Your words can make or break someone’s day!
I call most of the members of this church every week. Now two have requested that I not waste my time calling them, and I don’t. But the others I call, and I spoke this very week to two older members who tell me that they’re concerned that a spirit of kindness and friendliness is missing here. Again, I am the pastor, the shepherd of the flock here, at least I am for one more week. If my words offend you, but it causes you to be kinder, and less dismissive of the feelings of others, I am glad I stepped on your toes. Please, please, as you leave here today, don’t walk by other members or visitors or the youth as if they are invisible or as if they are blessed that you came here today! Please speak to them, shake their kinds, hug them, remind them that you are blessed to be here!
There was once man that was about to die, and he called his son to his bed and gave him his watch. And he told the young man that the watch was given to him by his grandfather, and that it was over 200 years old. Now he was giving it to his son, but first he wanted his son to take it to a jeweler to see how much it was worth. The son came back and said, “Dad, the jewelry store said it’s only worth $100 because it’s used.” Then the dad said, “Okay son, but now take it to the pawn shop and see what they say it’s worth.” And the son did and returned home and said, “The pawn shop so it’s very old and only with about $20.” But the father said, “Okay, just one more time, take the watch to the museum and ask them what it’s worth.” And so, although a bit of this running back and forth, the son went out one last time and went to the museum. But in a few minutes he ran into his father’s bedroom and burst out, “The museum says it’s one of the rarest watches in the world and that’s worth over $1,000,000!”
The dying father was explaining to his son life and how the world treats us. He was preparing his son for rejection, judgment, and indifference in a world that does not always value God’s precious children.
Friends, do you treat people like a jeweler…a pawn shop…. or a museum? Praise God, my heavenly Father esteems me as rare, special and worth over $1,000,000! And that’s how we must treat every child, youth, older member and visitor that comes through the doors of this church! Jesus Christ loves each one of us, but I know that it grieves Him and He is opposed to our efforts when we treat people unkindly and make no effort to be kind and to learn to like the least one.
Each of you are rare, unique, precious and worth more than the most precious watch. And that’s what we must tell the world.
Have mercy on us, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out our transgressions.
Wash away all our iniquity and cleanse us from my sin.
For we know our transgressions, and our sin is always before us.
Against you, you only, have we sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
Surely we were sinful at birth, sinful from the time our mothers conceived us.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught us wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse us with hyssop, and we will be clean; wash us, and we will be whiter than snow.
Let us hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from our sins and blot out all our iniquity.
Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within us.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from us.
Restore to us the joy of your salvation and grant us a willing spirit, to sustain us.
Help us to teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
Open our lips, Lord, and our mouths will declare your praise.
Our offering, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.