If you were describing our world, would you describe it as a kind place? If so, just what “kind of place” are you thinking of? For instance, have you tried recently to get service in a crowded store? Were you shocked recently by something on the news? Doesn’t it seem like we’ve grown to expect rude, crude and even violent behavior in so many places – especially on t.v. I guess that’s why we really like hearing stories of kindness.
Here’s a story about a woman who was standing at a bus stop. She had just cashed her tax refund check, so she was carrying more money than usual. She glanced around and noticed a shabbily dressed man standing nearby. As she watched, she saw another man walk up to him, hand him some money, and whisper something in his ear. She was so touched by that random act of kindness that she decided to do the same. In a burst of generosity, she reached into her purse, took out $10, handed it to the poor fellow, and whispered to him, "Never despair, never despair."
The next day, when she came to the bus stop, there he was again. But this time he walked up to her and handed her $110. Dumbfounded, she asked, "What’s this?" He said, "You won, lady. Never Despair paid 10 to 1."
Now I can’t promise that every rampant act of kindness will pay 10 to 1. At times kindness may even require sacrifices on your part. So with that in mind, let’s look at a couple of the clearest examples of kindness in the Bible. You might like to open your pew Bibles with me since I’m going to draw a good deal from it. Turn, if you wish, to Luke 8:40-56 (page 1003).
In this passage, we see Jesus showing kindness to two entirely different people.
One is a rich and influential man, and the other is a poor, outcast woman. Yet, Jesus treated both of them with equal kindness.
At the time of this story, Jesus was at the pinnacle of his popularity. People respected Him as a healer and a teacher, and crowds followed Him everywhere. But despite the pressures of his popularity, despite all the demands on His time, Jesus dropped everything He was doing to meet the needs of these two people.
The syndicated columnist Cal Thomas wrote, “Love talked about is easily ignored. But love demonstrated is irresistible.” Jesus not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk. So let’s look and see How Jesus Showed Kindness.
I. He paid attention to them. Jesus listened when they spoke and addressed their needs. Listen to Luke 8:40-41. “Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed Him, for they were all expecting Him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about 12, was dying. As Jesus was on His way (to the girl), the crowds almost crushed Him.”
Notice that we’re not told where Jesus was going before Jairus appeared. Maybe He was on His way to teach and preach to a waiting crowd. That would’ve made it an important errand. But as soon as Jairus told Him about his daughter, Jesus immediately changed direction. He began following Jairus because this girl’s situation was more pressing than whatever else He had scheduled.
By the way, how well do you handle interruptions? For some people, work means concentrating, and if someone interrupts, they consider that an intrusion. Many of us don’t handle interruptions too well. But we’re all changing. In my own experiences, I’ve noticed that sometimes interruptions are sent by God; opportunities to minister that I would’ve missed if I’d ignored them.
Jesus paid attention to Jairus, and He changed direction. But Jairus was not the only interruption, and Jesus was flexible and kind enough to pause to meet another’s need as well. Notice verses 43-46, “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“’Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’"
Picture it – crowds of people surrounding them – everyone was in a hurry; Yet, Jesus knew he’d been touched by someone special who needed His help.
Our world is fast becoming more and more impersonal, isn’t it? Go to a modern service station, and you don’t even have to talk to anybody anymore. Just put your card in the slot, pump the gas, and you can drive away.
Or how about the airlines? You call them, and you’ll hear a computerized voice, “If you want information regarding departing flights, push 1. For arriving flights, push 2.” You push 1, & it says, “If you know your flight #, push 1.” You push 1 again, and it says, “Punch in your flight number.” You punch that in, and the computerized voice then tells you the correct gate number. All that, and you never spoke to another living, breathing, person.
Can you imagine what would happen if they did that to a “911” call? You dial 911 and hear, “If your emergency is a murder, push 1. If it is a burglary, push 2. If the burglar is still in your house, push 3. If he has a gun, push 4 real quick!"
I don’t know what we’re coming to, do you? But I do know that Jesus took time to stop in the middle of his journey and in the midst of a crowd to give a woman His personal attention as though she was the only one there.
II. He expressed kindness by affirming her.
Vs’s 47-48 tell us, “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed. Then He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’"
First of all, you need to realize that, because of her disease, this woman was an outcast. She was treated like they treated lepers, and because of her disease, she had probably not been with her family for 12 years.
Her self-esteem must have been as low as it could possibly be. So Jesus affirmed her. He affirmed her first of all by listening to her story of woe, and then by acknowledging her faith.
This is likely a very condensed version of what really happened. I mean think about it. She has 12 years of history to tell, and this was quite possibly the first time she had anyone’s attention for a very long time. So I can picture her pouring out her heart, and Jesus listened. By his simple act of listening, by looking her in the eyes, by clinging to every word, He affirmed her.
Are you a good listener? Most of us probably aren’t. We pass each other and say, “How are you?” And we expect an automatic, “I’m fine.” If we get more than that, if someone really tells you just how they feel, we might actually be annoyed.
Have you ever been sharing something personal, and suddenly the other person changes the topic before you even finish? In that moment, you might be wondering if they’re even interested in you, or if it’s just about themselves.
Erma Bombeck told about a time when she was really tired of listening. She had listened to her son tell about a movie in the most minute details. Then she received several telephone calls filled with mindless chatter that never had any real point to make. It was with genuine relief that she was able to tell the last caller how she had to rush off to the airport.
She got into a taxicab, and as the cab driver drove, he told her all about his son’s scholarship to college, and how he was making straight A’s. Erma had to sit there and listen to it all.
She said, “But once I got to the airport and realized that I was 30 minutes early, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, ‘I have 30 whole minutes when I don’t have to listen to anybody. I can just sit here and read my book.’
“But no sooner had I opened my book, when an elderly female voice said to me, ‘I bet it’s cold in Chicago.’ ‘I suppose,’ Erma replied without looking up, but that was not all. The woman proceeded to tell her about her 53 years of marriage. Erma recalled, ‘Her voice droned on. Here was a woman who didn’t want money or advice or counsel. All she wanted was someone to listen.’
“She continued to talk to me,” Erma said, “until they announced that we were boarding the plane. We walked onto the plane, and I saw her sit in another section. As I folded my coat, I heard her say to the person next to her,
‘I bet it’s cold in Chicago.’"
There are so many of us who just need somebody, sometime, to listen, just to focus on us and listen to what we have to say. When Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” What an affirmation that must have been! And thirdly,
III. Jesus expressed kindness through acceptance.
Notice what it says in vs’s 49-56. “While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher any more.’ Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’
“When he arrived at the house of Jairus, He did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, John & James, & the child’s father & mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing & mourning for her. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said. ‘She is not dead but asleep.’ At that we’re told,“They laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But He took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, & at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but He ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.”
Now let’s concentrate on those last few verses. The miracle is exceptional, and we praise God for it. But notice what Jesus told them after the miracle was over. He said to them, “Don’t tell anyone what has happened.”
• Some of the most disturbing words in the English language are 4 words that we like to speak, but hate to hear. They are the words, “I told you so.” It’s fun to speak them, and we relish it when we’re the ones saying it. But it’s very difficult to hear on the receiving end, isn’t it?
Remember how those people outside the house had mocked Jesus? They laughed at Him before He went in to raise the girl back to life again. If I were Jesus, I know what I would’ve done. I would’ve raised the girl back to life, and then I would’ve taken her outside and said, “See, I told you so, I told you so.” That would’ve been a lot of fun, but then that’s one of many reasons why I’m not Jesus.
Jesus wasn’t concerned how the crowd felt. His concern was for the girl and her parents. To them, he said, “Don’t tell anyone what has happened here.” He didn’t try to get even. He didn’t try to get back at them. He didn’t try to glorify Himself. He just said, “Let’s leave it the way it is.”
Sometimes it’s not so much what you say as how you say it. For instance, one preacher said, “I have never had to apologize for my position, but I have oftentimes had to apologize for my disposition.”
I love the story about the 6’10" Texan who walked up to the counter at McDonalds, slammed down his big fist, and said to the girl behind the counter, “I want half a Big Mac.” She said, “What?” He said, “You heard me! I want half a Big Mac and I want it now.”
Not being sure what to do, she said, “Excuse me for a minute.” And she headed back to her manager without realizing the man was following her. When she got to the manager, she said, “There’s a big klutz out there who is dumber than lead, and he ordered half a Big Mac.” At that moment she realized he was standing right behind her, and she quickly added, “And this gentleman wants the other half.”
Sometimes you may have to think fast, and what you say may be important. But how you say it can be even more important. The fact that Jesus didn’t want to embarrass them or get even with the crowd speaks volumes. It teaches us how we’re supposed to respond to each other. We need to learn to be kind even if others are rude. It’s through our kindness that we can most effectively reflect how kind God has been to us through the grace of Jesus Christ.
(Inspired by a sermon of Melvin M. Newland @ SermonCentral.com )