Summary: The 5th sermon in a series on the fruits of the Spirit
1. The slogan started appearing on billboards in the early 1990’s, "Practice Random Acts of Kindness." According to Gavin Whitsett, author of a small handbook entitled, Guerilla Kindness, the movement is a response to the "random acts of violence" that are so much a part of the daily news. The author as well as others who were a part of the movement encouraged others to do little things for people that would make the world a happier place. The suggested such things as: paying the toll for the car behind them at a toll booth, waving to children on school buses, sending flowers to a nursing home, putting nickels in playground sandboxes. The goal was to make you feel good & like you were making a difference. But is the goal of kindness to make us feel good? I don’t think so. (6)
2. Defining kindness is tough. It’s hard to put into words. How would you define kindness? I found a definition more difficult than I anticipated. Although we may struggle with how to define it and with how to put it’s importance into words, that doesn’t mean it’s not significant.
3. It’s the 5th fruit of the Spirit, but that doesn’t mean it’s 5th in importance. I think it has great importance. In fact, kindness has a great deal more impact than most people think. To illustrate that as we begin I want to share a true story that took place several years ago to a man famous for being "kind." When you think of kindness, chances are that one of the first names that comes to mind is Mister Rogers. A year or two before Fred Roger’s death someone in Philadelphia where he lived stole his car. The news media got ahold of the story and before long all the local TV stations were broadcasting the story. Thousands of Philadelphia citizens saw the story, including the thief who stole the car. This criminal had dealt with his own share of difficult times, but he knew that when he was small Fred Rogers had been a positive influence on him. Fred Roger’s kindness prompted him to do something that he had probably never done before. He returned the car. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that Fred Roger’s brand of kindness is the only kind of kindness there is out there. You don’t have to put on a sweater & invite kids to play in your neighborhood to be kind. But even when it’s that type of kindness, kindness has the power to touch the hearts of the most hardened people.
4. I wish we had enough time, I would love to hear many of your stories of when someone was kind to you. I’m sure if we had a little bit of time to recall we could all tell some wonderful stories. I know when I started thinking about, it didn’t take too long before several experiences from my past quickly came to mind. I’m sure if you spent a few minutes thinking about it you would discover that many people have been kind to you over the years.
5. The February 1978 Readers Digest contained this story of kindness that I thought was particularly good. It was a lonely subzero Wisconsin morning, and the man was fixing a flat tire. He had no hat, and his ears felt like ice. A car pulled to a stop on the other side of the road, and an elderly woman got out and headed across the icy stretch in my direction. When she got to the spot where I was crouched beside my car, she came around behind me and put her warm, gloved hands over his ears. She only said, "They looked so cold I just had to stop." 12