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TEXT: I Corinthians 13:4b

SUBJECT: Attributes of Love #3: Love is Kind

THE MEANING

What is kindness?

I looked up the word in my dictionary and found quite a few other words to describe it, words like sympathetic, friendly, gentle, tender-hearted, generous, affectionate, and well-disposed.

These are other words for kindness-more or less-but they don't tell us what kindness is. So let me try that by telling a short story with three different endings:

In March of last year, a new boy came to school. His name was Probdip. He wore his hair in a bun on the top of his head and covered the bun with something like a baby-blue handkerchief. Because he was new to the school and didn't speak English very well, he felt shy around the other kids, though he really wanted to fit in.

His class was made up of three groups of boys: we'll call them the Archie Group, the Jason Group, and the Christopher Group.

The Archie Group thought everything about the new boy was funny. When he walked into class, the started snickering and whispering things about him. When they heard his thick accent, they started imitating it. When they saw he didn't know how to catch a football, they three it at him as hard as they could. What do you think of the Archie Group? I think they were unkind.

The Jason Group wasn't nearly this bad. They also thought Probdip was a strange kid, but they were polite enough to not say anything to him about it. They didn't tease him or rough him up, they just ignored him or excluded him from their group. What do you think of the Jason Group? It seems to me they were not as mean and hateful as the others, but they were equally unkind.

The Christopher Group also noticed the thing on the new boy's head and had a hard time understanding his English, but they ate lunch with him the first day and got to know him a little bit. When they found out he liked soccer, they asked him to play with them after school. Within two minutes, they saw that the lonely, weird looking boy from India was ten times better than they were at soccer. It wasn't long before he fit in with them and became a good friend of Christopher and the kind boys who hung out with him.

Kindness, then, is the opposite of meanness and also the opposite of doing nothing or ignoring others who need your help. Kindness is not cruel or lazy. It wants to help others and tries hard to do it.

That's what kindness is and that's how it behaves.

Before we go on, let me ask you something: What group do you belong to? Are you with Archie and his friends who laugh and mock and treat other people like dirt? Or, are you with Jason and his friends who only notice or help people in their group? Or, do you belong to the Christopher Group? Do you pay attention to other people-even if they're new or strange or not your best friends? And are you kind to them?

Love is kind. And the Lord wants every one of us to be kind.

THE REASON

Being kind is not always easy. Sometimes, you just don't feel like it-you're tired, you've got too much homework, your mom and dad have been getting on you all day, and then there's the bratty little brother or that bossy big sister of yours!

Some people are not easy to be kind to. It's a lot easier to be nice and friendly to a nice and friendly person than someone who just sits there staring at you or is mean and ugly with you.

The devil is also against you. The Lord calls Satan the accuser of the brethren and the one who sows discord. He himself-the devil I mean-works hard to make you cranky or conceited or cruel.

And so, it's not easy to be kind. For some of us, it's about the hardest thing in the world. But, whether it's easy or hard, you ought to be kind.

Firstly, because God tells you to-Ephesians 4:31-32.

Secondly, because kindness is fair-Matthew 7:12. Remember this: one day, you'll be Probdip. One day, you'll be the new kid in school or the new man at work or the teenage girl with the weird hair. How would you want others to treat you: like Archie did? Like Jason? Or like Christopher?

Thirdly, because kindness is good for you. Being kind to others will-most of the time-make them kind to you. It doesn't always work this way, but usually, it does. Wouldn't it be better if everyone were kind? I think so. Well, kindness has to start with someone-so why not with you?

Fourthly, because of the example of God-Luke 6:35.

THE OBJECTS

This is the hardest part of my sermon. Oh, it's very easy to explain-I could do it in my sleep, I think. But it's not so easy to do. Who should you be kind to?

Not just the people you want to be kind to!-Matthew 5:46.

You should be kind to animals and trees and other living things-Proverbs 12:10.

You should be kind to your family. To your brothers and sister; to your mom and dad; to your grandparents-to everyone in you family-even the ones who get on your nerves!

You should be kind to your friends. If you're not, they won't be your friends for long! No one likes to be around mean and hateful people! Some lonely kids are that way-not because others are unkind so much, but because they are themselves.

You should be kind to your enemies-Matthew 5:44ff.

WHERE TO START

Change is never easy. Bad habits are hard to break. Unkindness is a very bad habit! But it must be changed if you're going to please the Lord.

Where do you start?

Most preachers would say you start on the inside! Fill your heart with love and it will spill over into kindness. They're right, of course: a kind heart will make for kind words and deeds. But I'm not so sure that the heart is the best place to start being kind.

It easier to start on the outside and work your way in. If you're used to pushing people out of the way and being rude, start there: quit pushing them out of the way. If you're used to laughing every time someone makes a mistake, stop laughing-even if you think it's funny. If you're used to not helping people in little ways, start helping people in little ways. Maybe you don't need to die for that girl in school, but you can pick up her books when she drops them. Start with the little things! Good habits have a way of changing the heart.

But don't stop with the outside things! Pray for kindness and think long and hard about the Lord's great kindness to you-even though you don't deserve it, He is kind to you. And He wants you to show the same kindness to others who don't deserve it.

This means kindness-true and godly kindness-begins with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a love for His Word. Why don't you believe right now? Why don't you repent right now? Come to Christ and you'll also come to kindness-or, rather, Kindness will come to you.

Now go do it. And the love of God be with you!

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