November 30, 2003

The Climate of Healthy Relationships
Part 4—Kindness Introduction: Kindness is ____________________________________________.

1. God is __________________________________________________________. Psalm 106:7, Isaiah 54:8, 63:7, Jeremiah 9:23-24, 31:3, Luke 6:35, John 2:111, Acts 14:17, Romans 2:4, Ephesians 2:7, Titus 3:4

2. So be _________________________________________. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 A. Say _______________________________________________________. Genesis 37:4, Proverbs 12:25; 2 Timothy 2:24 B. _______________________________________________________ out. Acts 28:2 C. Do _______________________________________________________. Luke 6:35, Acts 14:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:15 D. Show _____________________________________________________. 2 Samuel 10:2, Ephesians 4:32

For Life Group Discussion: What kindness could you do for those you love most? For those you love least? What is your next step?

November 30, 2003

The Climate of Healthy Relationships
Part 4—Kindness Opening: Every living thing needs the right environment to thrive. Put a tropical fish in a Northwest lake and it will die in a hurry, especially this time of year! Wrong climate! It’s true of our relationships too—they need the right climate to be healthy and thrive. One of the elements that make relationships healthy is kindness. Kind people have great relationships; unkind people end up lonely. Offering and Announcements: Thanks for building fund pledge payments. Introduction: What is kindness? Kindness is love in action. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is kind.” Love is expressed every day in hundreds of small words and acts of kindness. Kindness is love in action. Give me some synonyms for kindness: be gracious, be thoughtful, be helpful, be compassionate, be nice. Webster defines kindness as sympathy, forbearance, and being helpful. Be kind. Be sympathetic, compassionate. Be patient, forbearing. Be helpful. Be nice. Some men may think of kindness as...wimpy! We think of kindness as a soft virtue, and men tend to value what I call “hard virtues” like courage, devotion, leadership, strength! But kindness is not wimpy at all. It takes great strength to be kind. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel in order to be tough.” So men, please don’t think that kindness is weak or soft. Real men are kind. It is a strong virtue, a tough virtue; it is love in action. What are antonyms for kindness—what is the opposite of kindness? Mean. Cruel. Have you seen the bumper sticker, “Mean people suck”? It’s true. Nobody wants to be friends with a mean person. Nobody wants to work with or for a mean person. Nobody wants to be married to a mean person. Mean people suck! Proverbs 11:17 A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself. Here kindness is contrasted with cruelty. A kind man benefits himself. When you are kind, you do yourself a favor, because what you sow is what you reap. It comes back to you. And so does cruelty. If you are cruel, you bring trouble on yourself. Better to be kind. ILL: This May, Laina and I were in Philadelphia for our denominational

Page 2 convention. We joined Jim and Robyn Hayford and went to New York for a day where we stayed in the historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel. There’s a wonderful story about those two places. Many years ago, an elderly couple arrived at a hotel in Philadelphia at 11:00 on a rainy night without reservations and asked for a room. The hotel was full. The night clerk could have easily said, “I can't help you. We're filled up." Instead the night clerk said, "We don't have any rooms; they're all gone. But I'll tell you what: I have a room here. It's not much, but I'll have Mary, the night housekeeper, clean it up and put some flowers in there. I'm sure you'll be comfortable for the night. I hate to send you out in this rainy night." A few minutes later, Mary came back and said, "The room is clean." Then the clerk said, "Let me take you upstairs, and get you settled and I'll have some hot tea sent up for you." A year and a half later, John Jacob Astor finished building the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. It was Astor who with his wife had come to that Philadelphia hotel in the middle of a rainy night and slept in the night clerk’s room. Guess who John Astor hired to manage his new hotel? The night clerk from Philadelphia. "I want that night clerk to manage my hotel." A kind man benefits himself. Be kind to yourself by being kind to others! When you are kind to others, it comes back to you. It creates a climate of kindness—and in that climate, your marriage, your family, your friendships will thrive. Here’s an interesting item. The Greek word translated “kindness” is chrestos, and it means “good, gracious, mild and pleasant (as opposed to harsh, sharp or bitter); useful, or helpful.” Kindness is good and good for you. It is pleasant and practical. It is beautiful and beneficial. Kindness smiles and says good morning, then it makes the coffee! The Greek word translated “Christ” is christos, only one letter different from chrestos , kindness. In the early days of Christianity, people sometimes misunderstood and thought Christians were “the kind ones”, followers of chrestos. Not a bad misunderstanding! ILL: Two cars were waiting at a stoplight. The light turned green, but the man in front didn't notice it. A woman in the car behind him watched traffic pass around them. She yelled at the guy, and finally honks. He looks up, sees the light is green and accelerates…just in time to leave her stuck as the light turns yellow. She goes ballistic, flips the guy off, screams profanity and curses at him and beats her dash in frustration. In mid-rant she hears a tap on her window and looks up into the barrel of a gun held by a very

Page 3 serious looking policeman. He asks her to exit the car with her hands up, cuffs her, puts her in the back of the patrol car, and drives her to the police station where she is fingerprinted, photographed, searched, booked and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approaches the cell and opens the door for her. She is escorted back to the booking desk where the original officer is waiting with her personal items. "I'm really sorry for this mistake. But you see, I pulled up behind your car while you were honking your horn, flipping that guy off, and cussing a blue streak at him. Then I noticed the "Choose Life" license plate holder, the "What Would Jesus Do" bumper sticker, the "Follow Me to Sunday School" bumper sticker, and the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. So, naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car." People expect Christ-followers to be kind, because Christ was kind. The christos was also chrestos. God is kind. 1. God is kind. Titus 3:4-5 “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared (He is talking about the coming of Jesus), he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” Jesus was the kindness of God, the love of God—in epiphany. The Greek word for “appeared” is epiphane, which means “to cause something to be seen, to illuminate, to make one’s presence known, to make an appearance.” We get the English word “epiphany” from it. An epiphany is an appearance or manifestation of God, or a moment of revelation in which you “get it”. When Jesus came, God made an appearance, and allowed us to see His kindness and His love. When you look at Jesus, you see the kindness of God! John 2 tells the story of Jesus’ first miracle. He was invited to a wedding in Cana, probably the wedding of an extended family member, or at least a very close family friend. In those days, the wedding ceremony took place in the evening, after a huge feast. They had the reception first, and then the wedding! After the ceremony, the new couple was carried through the streets of the village to their new home—they were taken the longest route so that as many people as possible could congratulate them. But that wasn’t the end. For the next week, the couple held an open house; they wore their wedding clothes and crowns, and were treated like royalty. It was a week-long party! And in a world where there was so much poverty and hard work, this week may have been the greatest of their entire lives. At this wedding feast, they ran out of wine. Nowadays, that wouldn’t be such a big deal—we’d jump in the car and scoot over to Albertsons for more wine. But they didn’t have a car to scoot in—they didn’t have an Albertsons either! And

Page 4 hospitality was a big deal—this was a major embarrassment to this young couple and their family that the wine ran out! So what does Jesus do? He quietly saves the party and the dignity of the bride and groom. He tells the servants to fill six nearby jars (each held 20-30 gallons) with water—that’s 120-180 gallons that they had to draw from the well—it would have taken some time and effort. Then he tells the same servants to draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet—the head of catering. How would you like to have been one of those servants? “Is He crazy? Why take water to head of catering?” But when the master of the banquet tasted it, he pulled the bridegroom aside and said, “What’s this? Most people serve the best wine first, and then the cheaper wine after people have had too much to drink. But you’ve saved the best till now!” Jesus turned water into wine. Why? To save a young couple’s wedding feast. Out of kindness. There was no other reason to do it. Just pure kindness. “When the kindness of God appeared…” That’s Jesus. Luke 19:1-10. There was a businessman in Jericho, a guy named Zacchaeus, who was long on money but short on friends. He lived in a big house on the edge of town, but no one ever stopped there; no one came to see him, not even the Jehovah Witnesses! Everybody hated this guy! Why? Because he built that big house with money he’d skimmed off their taxes. No one ever came to his house…until the kindness of God appeared. Jesus came to Jericho, and invited himself over to Zack’s house. “I’m coming to your house today.” He said it out loud in public, and it made a lot of people mad, but it changed everything for Zacchaeus. Jesus didn’t have to do that. He could have talked with Zack in the tree; He could have met him secretly late that night at Starbucks. Instead, Jesus went to Zack’s house, the first person ever to sign his guestbook. Why? Kindness. Pure kindness. Mark 5:21-43. The mayor of Capernaum, a guy named Jairus, asked Jesus to come to his house and heal his sick daughter. A huge group of people followed Jesus, crowding around Him. There was a woman with a blood disease, much like AIDS today—she had been sick for a dozen years, and had run out of doctors, money and hope. Worst of all, she had run out of friends. Maybe people were afraid of catching her disease, but she was alone. No one wanted her around. So she snuck into the crowd, hoping to touch Jesus, hoping that touching Him might heal her. And it did. She managed to touch just the hem of his jacket, but instantly, she felt different. She knew she was healed. But Jesus stopped, and asked, “Who touched Me?” His followers were stunned: “What do you mean, who touched you? For crying out loud, everyone is touching you!” But Jesus asked again, “Who touched Me?” and looked around. Trembling, the woman with AIDS came forward and told Him the whole story. That’s what is says in Mark

Page 5 5:33—the whole story! Jesus listened, while the crowd waited, and the disciples waited, and the mayor waited. A little girl was dying…but Jesus listened to her whole story. He didn’t have to. The healing would have been enough. But Jesus wanted to do more than heal her body; he wanted to restore her dignity. So he stopped, and listened to the whole story. Why? Kindness…pure kindness. When the kindness of God appeared…that was Jesus. All through the Bible it says that God is kind. I’ve put a few references on your outline that you can look up for yourself. God is kind. He always has been. But when Jesus came, the kindness of God appeared. We saw Him; we saw love in action. It was an epiphany—a moment of revelation. God is kind. Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad that He isn’t mean and cruel? I would be afraid of a cruel and mean God. I would be afraid to get too close. But this God, this kind God, is a God that I can get close to. God is good and good for you. God’s kindness makes our relationship thrive. Now He wants us to make kindness the climate of our relationships with others. 2. So be kind to everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Always try to be kind to everyone. Pretty simple. When should you be kind? Always. It’s always the right time to be kind. And to whom should you be kind? To everyone. Someone said, “Be kind to everybody. You never know who might show up on the jury at your trial.” Remember the law of reciprocity. What you give is what you get. Show kindness and it comes back to you. We create an atmosphere of kindness by consistently showing kindness—always to everyone. We make it the climate of our relationships by being kind all the time. Consistent kindness will be returned. ILL: A Yale University President gave this advice to a former president of Ohio State, "Always be kind to your A and B students. Someday one of them will return to your campus as a good professor. And always be kind to your C students. Someday one of them will return and build a 20-million dollar science lab." Always be kind. It’s good advice. Here are a few practical ideas on how to be kind all the time. A. Say kind words. Proverbs 12:25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Kind words cheer people up. Words can be cruel and mean, or they can be

Page 6 kind. Always be kind. Kind words have the power to cheer people up, to lift the downcast. ILL: In 1994 Thurman Thomas sat on the Buffalo Bills bench following his team's fourth straight Super Bowl loss; his head was bowed with his hands covering his face. His three fumbles had helped seal the awul fate of his team. Suddenly, standing before him was the Dallas Cowboys' star running back, Emmitt Smith. Just named MVP for Super Bowl XXVIII, Smith was carrying his small goddaughter. Smith looked down at her and said, "Honey, I want you to meet the greatest running back in the NFL, Mr. Thurman Thomas." An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Are you creating a climate of kindness with your words? 2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. There it is again: be kind to everyone! Notice the contrast: don’t quarrel, but be kind to everyone. I don’t think this means that we never disagree with each other, or never have animated conflict. If someone is wrong, the kindest thing you can do is to disagree! But there is a difference between disagreeing when you need to, and being disagreeable. Some folks are disagreeable, cranky, contentious, contrary, quarrelsome! You can’t say anything without them disagreeing. Everything is an argument! They are a quarrel waiting to happen. Do you have anyone in your life like that? I do! It’s not fun! It makes for a very strained relationship. Don’t be quarrelsome; be kind. Are you creating a climate of kindness with your words? Say kind words. B. Help out. A second very practical way to be kind is to help out. Remember, chrestos meant “useful”. Kindness is being useful. When someone lends a hand, it’s a kindness. Acts 28:2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul’s ship had wrecked in a storm on the island of Malta. The islanders showed them kindness by building a fire to help them warm up and dry out. A big fire is very useful when you’re cold and wet! Kindness is helping out, being useful, lending a hand. ILL: One of my favorite stories about kindness is about a young man named Paul Scott. Paul was a senior in high school when the first hint of trouble came. He was a running back on the football team, and he couldn’t seem to hold on to the ball. The condition grew worse, and after extensive tests, the

Page 7 diagnosis came back: leprosy. Now it’s called Hansen’s disease, but no matter what you called it, it seemed like a death sentence to Paul. His parents were horrified. He was whisked away to the Federal Public Health Service hospital in Carville, Louisiana, the only leprosarium in the U.S. Paul was confined there for six years—six years of separation from friends and family as the disease ravaged his body. Then medical science discovered new drugs—sulfone drugs—and they worked! While the drugs halted the progress of the disease, it was too late to prevent deformity. Paul’s life was saved, but his face was disfigured, he’d lost part of his vision in one eye, he walked with a limp, and his hands were severely deformed. Sixteen operations had left them still twisted and barely functional. When Paul was finally able to return home, his parents were unable to accept his disabilities and asked him to leave. He was utterly alone. Old friends were uncomfortable. Paul hated to go outside because of the stares. One Halloween, his depression reached a low point. Some kids, wearing Halloween masks, saw Paul and shouted, “Look, he doesn’t need a mask.” Paul felt like he had nothing to live for. Even though he was not a Catholic, he felt compelled to go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue that Halloween night. There in the quiet of that huge vaulted cathedral, he began to think of Bishop Fulton Sheen. Bishop Sheen had visited the leprosarium at Carville; Paul thought that if anyone could understand his feelings, it would be Bishop Sheen. So he approached a priest near the main altar and asked, “Could I please see Bishop Sheen? It’s important.” The young priest, sensing the urgency in Paul’s request, gently explained that Bishop Sheen wasn’t associated with St. Patrick’s but that he would see that the bishop got Paul’s name and address. To Paul it was just another failure. But to his surprise, soon after that, he received a letter inviting him to see the bishop in his office. “I’ve come to see you because I have no one else to turn to,” Paul said. “I haven’t got a friend in the world.” “Well, now you have one,” said Bishop Sheen, smiling. He invited Paul to dinner the next night. During dinner, Paul had difficulty handling his fork and knife. Without stopping his conversation, the bishop reached over and cut Paul’s meat for him. That simple gesture of kindness touched Paul so deeply that he realized he did, at last, have a friend. Paul poured out all the torment he felt. “God has a purpose for your life, Paul,” Bishop Sheen said. “It’s up to us to find it.” In the months that followed, Paul Scott had dinner with his friend

Page 8 every week. The bishop helped Paul get additional surgery that greatly improved his appearance and the use of his hands. He helped Paul find a job. He helped Paul furnish his apartment, provided clothes, and once, between paydays, when he discovered Paul had no food, took him shopping and filled up a shopping cart with food. And the bishop introduced Paul to Christ, baptized him in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and confirmed him in his private chapel. When Bishop Sheen moved to Rochester, New York, Paul missed him greatly, but the bishop’s help had prepared Paul to live on his own. One day, Paul got an invitation in the mail. Bishop Sheen was to be installed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, and he included Paul on the guest list. In fact, he saved Paul a seat on the center aisle where Paul had a good view. There were many dignitaries and well-known people present. But when the ceremony was over and the bishop proceeded down the redcarpeted aisle, he stopped to talk to only one. He stopped by Paul, hugged him and said, “It’s nice to have you here, Paul.” Paul said something in reply and then became conscious of necks craning and people whispering. Finally, the lady next to him leaned over and asked what many others were wondering. “Are you from the Vatican?” “No, just a friend,” Paul said. The lady looked for a moment, and then said, “He must love you very much.” “Yes,” Paul said, “he does.” That’s kindness—just helping out. Bishop Sheen once wrote: “These are three rules of dealing with all those who come to us: (1) Kindness; (2) Kindness; (3) Kindness.” He lived it. Are you creating a climate of kindness by being helpful? Be useful—help out. That’s kindness. C. Do good. Another practical way to be kind is simply to do good. Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. God is kind to ungrateful and wicked people—God is kind to His enemies, so we should be too. And he tells us how: do good to them. Rather than returning evil for evil, rather than seeking revenge, rather than resenting your enemies, show kindness by doing something good for them. ILL: In Rhythms of the Heart, Phil Hook writes: My mother and I did not “mix.” I chose a typical teenage solution to

Page 9 the problem: silence. I would leave for school in the morning, come home to eat, then leave again. When I was finally home late at night, I read books. Invariably, my mother would come downstairs and ask me if I wanted a sandwich. I grunted my assent. She cooked egg and bacon sandwiches for me night after night until I left home for good. Years later, when our relationship was mended, she told me why she had made all those sandwiches. “The only time you would talk to me was while I made that sandwich.” Do good, because God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Acts 14:17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Here’s another example of God’s kindness: He gives us rain from heaven, crops in their season; He provides us with plenty of food and joy in our hearts. God does good for us. That’s kindness. You can show kindness by doing good for people. Do you know the ten rules for getting rid of the blues? Go out and do something good for someone else, and repeat it nine times. Sometimes when you do good, others will repeat it! ILL: Jayne Fisher watched anxiously as her 17-year-old daughter Katie pulled her unruly lamb into the arena of the Madison County Junior Livestock sale. With luck, Katie wouldn’t collapse, as she had during a livestock show the day before. Katie was battling cancer. This was her first chance in months to be outdoors having fun, away from hospitals and chemo treatments, and she had come with high hopes for earning some sizable spending money. She had wavered a little on her decision to part with the lamb, but with lamb averaging $2 a pound, Katie was looking forward to a lot more than pin money. So she centered the lamb for viewing and the bidding began. That’s when Roger Wilson, the auctioneer, had a sudden inspiration that brought some unexpected results. “We sort of let folks know that Katie had a situation that wasn’t too pleasant,” is how he tells it. He hoped that his introduction would push the bidding up, at least a little bit. Well, the lamb sold for $11.50 a pound! But things didn’t stop there. The buyer paid up, then decided to give the lamb back so that it could be sold again. That started a chain reaction, with families buying the animal and giving it back, over and over again. When local businesses started buying and returning, the earnings really began to pile up. The first sale is the only one Katie’s mom remembers. After that, she was crying too hard as the

Page 10 crowd kept shouting, “Resell! Resell!” Katie’s lamb was sold 36 times that day, and the last buyer gave it back for good. Katie ended up with more $16,000 for a fund to pay her medical expenses—and she still got to keep her famous lamb. Are you creating a climate of kindness by doing good for others? Do good! That’s kindness. D. Show compassion. One more practical way to express kindness is to show compassion. Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Kindness and compassion go hand in hand. Here’s one of my favorite sayings: “Be kind. Remember everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Isn’t that true? Take the time to listen to people, and you’ll discover that everyone has a story; everyone has a battle they’re fighting—and it’s hard. When you take the time to listen, you’ll feel compassion and will show kindness. Be kind; everyone is fighting a hard battle. ILL: Last spring, Mr. Alter's fifth-grade class at Lake Elementary School in Oceanside, California, included fourteen boys who had no hair. Only one, however, had no choice in the matter. Ian O'Gorman, undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, faced the prospect of having his hair fall out in clumps. So he had his head shaved. But then 13 of his classmates shaved their heads, so Ian wouldn't feel out of place. "If everybody has his head shaved, sometimes people don't know who's who," said 11-year-old Scott Sebelius in an Associated Press story (March 1994). "They don't know who has cancer, and who just shaved their head." Ten-year-old Kyle Hanslik started it all. He talked to some other boys, and before long they all trekked to the barber shop. "The last thing he would want is to not fit in," said Kyle. "We just wanted to make him feel better." Compassion—those boys cared about how their classmate felt. That’s kindness. Are you creating a climate of kindness by showing compassion? Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Show compassion; that’s kindness.