Summary: God’s kind love seen in David’s kindness to Saul’s family, in the parables of the Prodigal Son & the Good Samaritan, is expressed best in Christ’s death for undeserving sinners; we are called to show that same kindness to others.
Date: March 2, 2003
Title: Intentional Acts of Kindness
Theme: Love Is Kind
Speaker: Rev. Joanna R. Loucky-Ramsey
Location: First Baptist Church of Potsdam
The story is told that, at the end of World War I, Herbert Hoover, who would later become the President of the United States, led the Allied relief efforts in Europe. The efforts of these valiant soldiers kept hundreds upon hundreds from starvation, and a new
word entered the Finnish language; they made a verb out of Herbert Hoover’s last name. In Finland, “to hoover” means “to be kind, to help.” If they made a verb out of your last name, what would its definition be?
The German philosopher Nietzche hated Christianity for encouraging kindness. He accused Christian love of draining strong people by making them kind, driving them to waste their energies on lepers, cripples, and oppressed people. Thus, love weakened the strong of the human race by turning them toward kindness. Were we to rid the world of faith in Christ, and thus of love, he prophesied, we might again produce supermen. The strong could get stronger and the weak would die out.” (Smedes) This kind of “survival of the fittest” doctrine that Darwin popularized spawned such murderous regimes as Naziism.
Yet lest we get too quick to judge, we should admit that our American culture doesn’t exactly put a high value on kindness. Just let a girl call a boy “nice” and watch him wince as though nothing could be worse. Don’t we say “nice guys finish last”? Some picture this quality of kindness as almost a serene indifference, a mushy fuzzy thing. We tend to associate kindness with boring blandness and weak tea. Okay for grandmas and little children, but not for real men!
It’s even becoming something less than a compliment to call a girl “nice.” The November 1998 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine contained an article entitled “Why Nice Girls Need to Be Mean” in which the author stated: “women who try to be kind all the time have a hard time exerting themselves when they need to. Being firm can make their position more believable and stronger than if they are habitually kind. Sometimes you have to stop being sweet and start getting mean.”
Yet according to I Corinthians 13:4, kindness is one of the first qualities of genuine love. When God gives directions on how to love, he rates kindness near the very top of the list. “Love is patient, love is kind.”
I recall a story about how the wind and the sun were arguing about which of them was strongest. “Look,” said the Wind, “I’ll prove to you that I am more powerful. See that man down on the earth? Let’s each exercise our power, and whoever can make the man shed his coat fastest will be acknowledged as the most powerful.” “Fine,” the Sun replied, smiling. “You go first.” So the Wind howled and scowled and he huffed and he puffed and he pulled out all the stops but the harder he tried, the more the man pulled his coat closer to him to shield himself from the cold. Finally the Wind died down, exhausted from his efforts. Then the Sun began to shine, gently but persistently, until the man began to unbutton his jacket one button at a time. Before long, he had shed
not only his coat, but happily rolled up his shirtsleeves as well. The Wind had to admit he was beaten. Selfishness and unkindness are like that Wind; while there is a certain kind of power in them, they do not have the power of love and kindness, which can open the hearts of people just as the sun’s rays can cause people to shed their overcoats.
God’s kind of love is not wimpy. While God demonstrates kindness to sinners, he doesn’t paper over our sin as though it doesn’t matter. Kindness sometimes confronts and challenges; it reaches out not to pat the shoulder of one stuck in a ditch, but to pull him out of his predicament, for kindness understands that it is not a loving thing to watch
someone destroy his life and do nothing about it. 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. It takes a strong man or woman to do what is best for others in the face of fierce resistance and opposition.
Now and again you might see a bumper sticker which urges you to “practice random acts of kindness”. And yet kindness isn’t “random” or irrational; on the contrary, it is very intentional. It is motivated by the desire to meet people’s needs and glorify God!