Summary: How we treat others is relative to how we feel about ourselves. This sermon looks at treating yourself better with the intent if treating others better also.
A Sunday School teacher asked her class if they knew the difference between kindness and loving kindness. One little girl said she knew the difference. She told the teacher that kindness is like when you ask your mother for some toast and she gives it to you, but loving kindness is when you ask your mother for some toast and she gives it to you with butter and jam on it.
Some people enjoy dry toast. I am not one of them. I like mine with butter and orange marmalade. But suppose for a moment that it is someone else asking you for the toast. It is simple enough to put a couple of pieces of bread in a toaster. It takes a little more effort to wait for it to toast, butter it, smear it with jelly, and present it to that person. And even more effort to allow them to ask you for their preference of jelly. However, it is in that moment of service that your life can actually begin to improve. Jesus said of himself, “I came to serve, not be served.” He realized that his greatest impact on those He met would be through his service.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud” The word “kind” meant “being constructive.” Love is constructive. It builds others up with kind words or actions. If you are a person of love, you desire to speak words of encouragement and blessings into other people’s lives. You can do this to their face or in their absence.
When we speak critical words against someone in their absence, we are doing ourselves damage. We are gaining a reputation of being untrustworthy and having a double standard. Actually, we are allowing out true colors to be shown.
As most of you know, I was in a play last week. As I listened to the criticism leveled against other actors, I cringed. On stage they portrayed themselves as friends or family members. But once they left the stage all pretenses was left behind. I thought of how much like true life that example was.
Was there someone in your life that was an encourager for you? They had faith in your abilities even if you did not have that same faith. Was there someone in your life that you could be yourself around with all your flaws and they loved you anyway? What do you think of that person? Would you like to be more like them? You can.
Begin today to become a kind person who is constructive and builds others up. Speak kind words to others. Encourage them in their efforts. When they see you coming they won’t duck behind something to avoid you. Rather they will rush to you and embrace you. In return, you will feel good about yourself. You will actually begin to construct a better you, one that is pleasant to be around.
If you have never had that person in our life that encouraged you, you can still become the person who encourages others. Just look to Jesus. He encouraged everyone everywhere He went without complaint of his treatment.
At a luncheon for officers and their wives, the commanding general of a base delivered a seemingly endless oration. A young lieutenant grumbled to the woman sitting beside him, "What a pompous and unbearable old windbag that slob is!" The woman turned to him, her face red with rage.
"Excuse me, Lieutenant. Do you have any idea who I am?"
"No, ma’am," the man fumbled.
"I am the wife of the man you just called an unbearable old windbag."
"Oh," said the lieutenant. "Well, do you have any idea who I am?"
"No," said the general’s wife.
"Thank the Lord," said the lieutenant, getting up from his seat and disappearing into the crowd.
We are commanded not to be grumblers. Let’s read James 5:9. “Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!”
The Bible says we are wonderfully and uniquely made. That means we are not made exactly alike. We are all different with different traits and characteristics. As we go through the day our paths will cross and our personalities and opinions will come into contact with each other. Since we are different this contact may cause friction. And friction will inevitably lead to heat. Our heated emotions can cause us to react in a negative manner, resulting in others being pushed away.
Have you ever met a complaining Christian? They are the worse people to be around. Everything in their life is a cross to carry. They grumble about their circumstances. They grumble about their families and friends. They are miserable people to be around because they have made themselves miserable.