Friday, August 2, 2013

How Kind of View...


V. Nine Visible Attributes of The Christian Life

A Sermon by The Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Psalm 136:1-3 & 22-26; Galatians 5:22-23

We have come to the fifth of the Nine Visible Attributes Of The Christian Life. Kindness.

Kindness is an underrated virtue. Indeed, sometimes people get the mistaken idea that to be kind is to be weak or a pushover.

They would be wrong.

Kindness makes all the difference.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

Everyone from Aesop to Winnie the Pooh will tell you so.

Aesop said,

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

And Winnie the Pooh said,

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

And then there is the Apostle Paul, who in writing to the Galatians, held up kindnesses one of the nine visible attributes of the Holy Spirit. In other words, where you see kindness in action, the Holy Spirit is alive and working in that person’s life. Where you do not see kindness – no matter what else you see in the way of smarts, or strength, or ability to command people and nations – well, the Holy Spirit probably is not there.

It really is that simple.

And we know it in our hearts. And we can feel the presence or absence of kindness, as we interact with others.

Here is an actual newspaper article courtesy of the Associated Press:


The article is short, so I will quote it in full:

Linda Burnett – a resident of San Diego – was visiting her in-laws, and while there, went to a nearby supermarket to pick up some groceries. Several people noticed her sitting in her car, with the windows rolled up, and with her eyes closed—with both hands behind the back of her head.

One customer, who had been at the store for a while, became concerned, and walked over to the car. He noticed that Linda’s eyes were now open, and she looked very strange. He asked her if she was okay.

And Linda replied that she had been shot in the back of the head, and had been holding her brains in, for over an hour.

The man called the paramedics, who broke into the car, because the doors were locked—and Linda refused to remove her hands from her head.

When they finally got in, they found that Linda had…a wad of bread dough on the back of her head.

What happened was this…

A Pillsbury biscuit canister from her grocery bag had exploded in the heat, making a loud sound that sounded like a gunshot. And the wad of dough hit her in the back of the head. When she reached back, to find out what it was, Linda felt the dough, but thought it was her brains.

She initially passed out, but quickly revered, and then tired to hold her brains in, for over an hour, until someone noticed and came to her assistance.”

* * * *

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

* * * *

This particular act of kindness – dispelled ignorance and fear.

Kindness always dispels ignorance and fear.

And every act of kindness comes from the Holy Spirit.

* * * *

Kindness can be defined as “A deep seated, habitually considerate behavior.”

God is kind.

That is what the scriptures tell u s. That is why we often sing it in our hymns, including selection 244 in our hymnal. That is the poet John Milton, by the way, who wrote:

“Let us with a gladsome mind, praise the lord who is so kind—

For God’s mercies shall endure, ever faithful, ever sure.”

Milton wrote those words in 1623. They are just as true in 2013.

God is Kind.

It is a faith affirmation that fairly leaps out of the Psalms. It is a paraphrase of our Old Testament Lesson, Psalm 136. The hymn was written when Milton was a student at St Paul’s School in London. He was 15 years old, a Puritan, and a man on the verge of entering Christ College at Cambridge.

A wise and faithful young man’s observation might be worth pondering. How does our own faith line up alongside what Milton says – that “God is kind”? Do you see God as basically kind?

Many folks do not. They see God as a stern taskmaster. As very powerful and awe inspiring, but also very demanding and judgmental. Not kind. In their eyes, God is so demanding that they feel they will never be able to measure up to what God expects. So, they have feelings of guilt and fear and resentment toward God. What good is that—for them, or for God?

None whatsoever.

If what we read in the Old Testament is not enough, then what about Jesus.

Jesus is the perfect model of God’s kindness.

Look at Jesus.

See his kindness to the lame, to the blind, to the paralyzed.

You are seeing the kindness of God at work.

Look at Jesus.

See him crying over the city of Jerusalem, and crying over the death of his friend Lazarus.

You are watching the kindness of God.

Look at Jesus. See him welcoming children and praising their faith.

You are experiencing the kindness of God.

Jesus is kind. God is kind. It’s a fact. You can say it with boldness and confidence, just like John Milton, the fifteen year old poet and Christian.


When Linda Burnett accepted the kindness of that stranger in the grocery store parking lot, all of her ignorance and fear dissipated like the dew at noontime.

That is the way it is with kindness.

Kindness shared, lightens burdens.

Kindness shared, resolves problems.

Kindness shared, restores peace and calm.

Kindness shared, opens up the future with hope.

Whenever the Holy Spirit comes to us – through the kindness others – we are set free from fears and folly.

I’m thinking about that unknown Good Samaritan in that store parking lot. What did it cost him to be kind?

A few moments of his time.

A bit of quick thinking.

And putting the needs of someone else before his own.

These things are small.

They are especially small—insignificant quite—compared to the hour of tormented horror that Linda spent in her locked car. As others who were not as kind passed her by. As the time dragged on. As she felt that warm, soft mass that she held so closely to the back of her head.


We – none of us – have been in Linda’s predicament. But we have been in similar predicaments. Where we have done all we can for ourselves and what we have done is not enough to resolve the problem.

And we are left with the kind of fear that Linda felt—

How good to have someone come alongside us with kindness to spare.

To be for us the means of saving us from our own difficulties.

We all of us have friends who have done exactly that for us.

And the best of friends…

Jesus himself, who is in the business of being kind, and dispelling ignorance and fear.

You see…

Knowledge and truth are not to be feared. Not by any faithful Christian.

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free…” Jesus says to all of his followers [John 8:3].

How free we become, when God's truth comes to us in a kindly way. From someone who has a deep-seated, habitually considerate behavior.

* * * *

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

* * * *

Just a bit more on this subject…

Kindness – strengthens the person who is kind.

We are growing in our faith. As we do, kindness plays an important role.

Being kind helps us to mature.

As we read in the first letter of Peter, chapter two, verse three:

“Like newborn babies, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it, you may grow up to salvation. For you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”


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