Webster says that kindness is a demonstration of love and goodwill toward others. In the Greek, kindness is our benevolence to one another. Some good we do for them. Kindness is the Golden Rule in practice – treating others as we would have them treat us. Paul to the Philippians said that kindness is placing the good of others before ourselves. God’s demonstration of kindness is the gift of Jesus. This message explores the Compassion of Christ and asks the question, “WHY WE SHOULD BE KIND ONE TO ANOTHER?” The answer may surprise you.
It would be interesting to privately ascertain where we stand in this call of Jesus to, “Come follow Me.” Are we learners only? Are we willing to live as Jesus lived and follow Him in every arena of life? Are we ready to be His special man or woman, ready to serve Him in any way? In this message we ask the question: “Just how far are we willing to go in this thing called Discipleship?”
The Bible contains the heart of God. It tells us of His love, mercy, and grace. It tells us how He wants us to live. It reveals Jesus who came to show us God in human terms. He came demonstrating the attitudes, dispositions, and daily behaviors we are to have that God really wants in His people. When Jesus came to his home town of Nazareth he went to the synagogue and read before the people. Everything would have been alright had it not been for the people struggling with wrong assumption about their home town boy. Sometime – the things we assume are wrong as well.
Sociologists tell us that there has never been a people who did not worship. We tend to search, to seek and find someone or something superior to us and thus worthy of our praise, devotion and worship. You see, God has placed in us a desire, a longing, a need, to worship. Jesus discusses the matter with the woman at Jacob’s Well.
When Moses built the Tabernacle, God came down to reside in the Most Holy Place. You see, God has always wanted to be close to His people. So, His glory, what the Jews called His Shechinah a representation of His presence, was a light that shined between the two cherubs that were mounted on the lid to the Ark of the Covenant. When Solomon built David’s intended Temple in Jerusalem on the day of the dedication, the glory of God came to dwell in that Most Holy Place. His Shechinah was so bright that the dedication day ceremonies had to be temporarily halted. Today, in the Christian System, God is incredibly close to His people. He lives in us through His Spirit that he gives us. And you know what? Sometimes Jesus must cleanse the temple.
Newspapers are full of bad news, economic uncertainties, persistent problems , more strife and terrorism. Many leaders are pessimistic not only about our nation’s future, but their own as well. Friends are not faithful; marriages are not stable; streets are not safe. Financial struggles, job problems, health problems. Life is depressing for many people. Where does a person turn to find hope?
The only hope that has substance is found in the gospel. The gospel does not promise a charmed life filled with constant blessings, but it gives solid assurance that life is worth living, that problems are worth enduring, that the risks of life are worth taking. The gospel provides hope that there is more to life than what we can see. The invisible world is even more real than the world we see. Even the sun will eventually fade away, but spiritual realities will not.
Imagine the scene. Jesus has been going from city to city throughout Galilee, teaching crowds of people. Suddenly, from the back of one such crowd, there is a commotion. There are shouts of surprise and disgust as the people surge apart and give way before a hooded figure. Mutterings of “Dirty leper!” move through the crowd. As the people move back, giving the afflicted figure a wide berth, Jesus stands His ground. Instead of hatred or fear, an expression of compassion crosses His features. The leper comes forward and makes his request. The leper came and fell upon his face. He took a position of worship (Matthew’s account says that he worshiped Jesus). It is popular among certain Christian circles to teach that you need to claim you healing and that, if you have enough faith, you will be healed. This man had faith. But his faith did not negate the Lordship of the healer. The issue to him was not whether Jesus COULD heal, but whether He WOULD heal. This man’s leprosy gave him the gift of insight. He saw in a short time that which would take Peter several years to see. He saw that Jesus was the Christ. Abraham Lincoln told a story of how he was plowing a field when his brother happened by and noticed that there was a horsefly on the flank of the mule, biting him. The brother reached out and flicked off the horsefly. Lincoln asked, “What did you do that for? That horsefly was the only thing making this mule go.”
Sometimes it takes the bite of a horsefly to make a mule go. And sometimes it takes the bite of affliction to bring us to God.