Summary: This is the third installment in a series I preached on I Corinthians 13, entitled "Love of Another Kind", and deals with KINDNESS.
¡§Pay It Forward¡¨
December 1, 2002
Love of Another Kind ¡V I Corinthians 13
¡§Everybody talkin¡¦ ¡¥bout Heaven ain¡¦t a-goin¡¦ there¡¨, the old preacher said. Similarly, everybody is talking about love, but many fail to understand what love is all about. We began a couple of weeks ago to talk about God¡¦s definition of love; we find that in I Corinthians 13. Stand with me as we read together today from I Corinthians 13:1-4!
Show clip of ¡§Pay It Forward¡¨ from the indigent in the garage through the indigent speaking with the woman in the kitchen.
Haley Joel Osment¡¦s character Trevor is a young man inspired by his social studies teacher to undertake a project designed to change the world for the better. Trevor decides upon a concept which he calls ¡§pay it forward¡¨, which is the converse of paying it back, in that his idea is to do good deeds to three different people, who instead of paying him back, he will ask to do good deeds toward three other people. While the picture paints too rosy an image of human nature, in some respects, it is replete with images of grace, of treating people not as they deserve, but far better. In a word, it paints for us a picture of kindness.
I. Kindness: What is it?
A. What it is not
Kindness is not simply emotion or mere feeling; it is more than this. Jesus was a man with emotions like the rest of us; when He saw the multitudes, the Bible says, He felt compassion for them. And yet kindness isn¡¦t measured by intentions or feelings.
To be kind is not to be wimpy and afraid to confront another person. Some picture this quality of kindness as almost a serene indifference, a mushy fuzzy thing. No, this is not the Bible picture of this word. Kindness will sometimes need to confront and to challenge; it will need to help correct an erring brother or sister, for it understands that it is not a loving thing for one Christian to allow another to live recklessly and sinfully and do nothing about it. It costs something to be kind. In his book A Gardener Looks at the Fruit of the Spirit, Philip Keller speaks of kindness by reminding us that ¡§it is the kind physician who lances the boil, drains off the poison, cleanses the wound, and so restores the patient.¡¨
Neither is kindness ¡§random¡¨. Now and again you might see a bumper sticker which urges us to ¡§practice random acts of kindness¡¨. Now, I appreciate the sentiment, I really do. But the kindness of which Paul is speaking here is not random nor irrational; on the contrary, it involves a clear motive and is done with clear purposes¡Xedifying people and glorifying God! Which leads us to ask more of a definition:
B. What it is
Last week we spoke of the fact that love is patient. Patience and kindness can be described as two sides of the same coin, the passive and active senses of the same character trait. Patience involves staying our hands¡Xand our mouths¡Xfrom exacting revenge where maybe revenge is deserved. Kindness, the Greek word chrestotes, involves the active sense of spontaneous action done for the good of others. It involves actively seeking the good of another, and doing so with a gentle spirit.
Kindness takes love on the road; it works for the welfare of the one loved. Can we not agree that in this cruel world, we are presented with plenty of opportunities all around us to be kind toward others, to demonstrate this critical quality of love to a world which knows so little of love? We know the definition of words like ¡§road rage¡¨; we hear of teenagers having ¡§hit lists¡¨ and going to school bent upon killing their classmates. We take ¡§anger management classes¡¨. We don¡¦t even know who our neighbors are. There is plenty of opportunity all around us for us to practice kindness!
I¡¦m reminded of an American general by the name of McAuliff, who found himself at Gastogne surrounded by the enemy. ¡§Men¡¨, he said, ¡§we are surrounded by the enemy. We have the greatest opportunity afforded an army. We can attack in any direction!¡¨ So it is with the opportunity we have been afforded; we can be kind literally in any direction, for there is such a need for this world to see kindness exemplified.
Kindness is more than mere empathy, though it ought to involve that. Kindness is an active response to an opportunity to edify another person.
II. Kindness: Where does it come from?
A. It is a fruit of the Spirit.
As we said of love and of patience, so we say of kindness that Paul lists this quality among the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. In other words again, this quality is to be produced in its truest and highest form in the life of the believer in Jesus Christ through the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. I don¡¦t work this quality of love up in my life; I do cooperate with the Spirit in the production of this in my life.