Love is kind…

“Love is… kind.”
A Message on 1 Corinthians 13:4b, and Colossians 3:12-14
For Jacksonville First United Methodist Church
May 1, 2022
By Doug Wintermute

1 Corinthians 13:4b (NRSV)

… love is kind…

Colossians 3:12-14

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

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Today we continue our sermon series on the “love chapter” of the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13.

Last Week we explored “love is patient,” and this week we will explore “love is kind.”

I think the “love chapter” kind of gets a bad reputation. About the only time we hear it is at weddings, and so it gets associated with that exclusively. We think it only applies to couples getting married.

I think it’s good that it is used at weddings, but I think when Paul wrote it he wasn’t thinking of it applying to weddings only. Our world can certainly use more love right now with all that’s going on. Love is something we should seek and also give every day.

As I mentioned in my column for the newsletter this past week, God is love. We should seek to be like God. We should love more.

So we know that love is patient, and this week we are going to explore how love is kind.

Love is kind. Kindness is being friendly, generous, considerate of others.

Now when we think of kindness we think of how we feel and act toward others, but it can also apply to how we feel and act toward ourselves.

I really admire Andrew Peterson for not only his music but also the profound lyrics that he writes. Several years ago he wrote a song for his then teenaged daughter who was struggling with self-worth the way many teenagers–and adults–struggle with it. Here are some of the lyrics:

I know it’s hard to hear it when that anger in your spirit
Is pointed like an arrow at your chest
When the voices in your mind are anything but kind
And you can’t believe your Father knows best
I love you just the way that you are
I love the way He’s shaping your heart
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself

We are to be kind to ourselves.

We are also to be kind towards others.

This last weekend at the confirmation retreat I have to admit I was not kind on Friday night. The boys stayed in a cabin with me, and even though I had asked them to be quiet and go to sleep, they didn’t. The third time I got up to tell them to go to sleep was at 2:30 in the morning.

Now to to be fair, Carlin was asleep. I don’t know how, but he was asleep. The other two were not.

It was not pretty. I was not kind. I even did what I swore as a child I would never do: I became my dad. “DON’T MAKE ME HAVE TO GET UP AND COME IN HERE AGAIN!!!!”

I felt bad after I said it… a little bit. I feel worse about it now than I did then.

To contrast, Dean and Julie Harvey were kind to the kids all weekend. This couple opened up their ranch free of charge to host our confirmation retreat. They fed us, they worked hard to give the kids a great time, cooking meals, saddling horses, providing fishing equipment and even real worms, and playing games.

Julie did get firm when one of the boys, after flipping over a kayak in the lake (on purpose, I believe), decided to take his life jacket off while in the middle of the lake. But even then she was kind. (Well, a lot more kind than I was as I was yelling at him.)

Jesus was kind, but he also was firm when he needed to be. (When he turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple, for example.) Jesus was kind toward and loved those who society refused to love, people like lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors. Jesus was kind to these folks, and also to those who were rich and well off. (Nicodemus being one example.)

We should be like Jesus.

Listen again to these words we read today written by Paul to the people of Colossae, a city in what is now the country of Turkey, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”

Clothes are what we put on our body to protect us. If it’s cold, we put on jackets or coats. If it is warm, as it is becoming now, we wear lighter clothing that breathes to keep us cool.

Clothes are also what other people see on us. It changes our appearance. Law enforcement officers can be identified by their clothing. So can most medical workers. And in our society we go to great lengths to find and spend great sums of money on specific brand name clothes so we can belong to the “in” crowd, so we can belong to a certain tribe or group of people, even if it is just by appearances.

But when we follow Jesus, as these young people in the confirmation class decided to do today, our perception changes. We no longer seek to prove to others that we are better than them. No, just the opposite. Our focus turns to others, not ourselves.

As Paul says, we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. None of those focus on ourselves. All of those focus on others.

Kindness is one of those. Kindness is being like Jesus, putting others’ needs first. And kindness can open a lot of doors for the Gospel.

Years and years ago, back in 1969, musician Glen Campbell recorded a song written by Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin titled, “Try A Little Kindness.” He even titled his album after the song.

The Lykins Family played and sang that song this morning for our offertory. The words of the chorus are:

You’ve got to try a little kindness
Yes, show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

At a concert in 2002 in South Dakota, Glen Campbell’s last song was “Try A Little Kindness.” He introduced the song by saying this: “When you are kind, and treat people kind, you get treated in kind.”

That’s my challenge today for the confirmands who have publicly declared that they are followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, and for the entire congregation: be kind. Be kind, one to another. Be kind to those who disagree with you. Be kind to those who belong to a different political party than you. Be kind on social media (no matter how hard it is).

Be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Be kind. Be loving.

Don’t make me be like my dad again.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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