January 22, 2006

Love Is Kind

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: The Preeminence of Love Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4


Love Is Kind

I Corinthians 13:4
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Pastor Randy Smith

Have you ever been around someone who expects the church to be perfect? In addition to living a fantasy, quite often these individuals fail to see their own shortcomings and are quick to judge those who fail to measure up to their standards. We must remember that each of us are sinners. Each of us makes the church messy. Each of us, often unwittingly, contributes to the problems in a church. As it has been said so often in the past, "If you every find the perfect church don't go there because you will only ruin it!"

1 Corinthians is a letter that deals with the messiness of the church life. Like any church that has ever existed, they had their fair share of spiritual problems. They struggled with disunity and immorality and marital issues and lawsuits and doctrinal error and the misuse of Christian liberty, just to name a few. And if all of these sins could be boiled down into one word, the word would be pride. So in chapter 13, Paul boils his solution down into one word as well: love.

When Paul spoke of love in this chapter, his primary concern was not to impose a good feeling on the Corinthians. His primary concern was action that would result in godliness. Therefore, when called to define a difficult term like love, the apostle chose to list 15 attributes in their active form. He listed 15 traits that were expected of the church to promote the environment that God demands within His household. He required the Corinthians to practice biblical love in action. As John said in his epistle, "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth" (1 Jn. 3:18).

Regardless of what poets and songwriters might tell us about love, God has given His church through Holy Scripture the true definition of love which is found in 1 Corinthians 13. And since love is synonymous with being a Christian, I have chosen to do a detailed exposition of these 15 attributes. I trust this series will not only be a blessing, but also a challenge as we measure ourselves against the standard of God's Word and realize that although we will never be a perfect church, we have the responsibility to be a loving church.

Last week we began our study with the attribute of patience. In verse 4, Paul began his list by saying, "Love is patient." Permit me to share a few comments by way of review.

First, a lack of patience always results from the presence of pride. When we are impatient with others we are implying that our perspective, our timetable, or our intelligence is superior to theirs. Such thinking is placing ourselves over another. Such thinking is pride.

Second, patience is our ability to remain calm when faced with ill treatment. Such a spirit of self-control will never come from our own disposition. God must work His patience within us. Someone once said, "Only God can help us to do nothing." As we abide in Him through obedience, the Holy Spirit will produce spiritual fruit in our lives. As we know, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience… (Gal. 5:22).

Third, since patience is primarily a passive disposition, God has equipped us with a warning system that will teach us when we are being impatient. When we experience inward emotions such as: bitterness and resentment and arrogance, which often manifest themselves in outward actions such as: self-pity and quarreling and criticism and gossip and complaining and quitting, we must take great caution. These sins or warning lights are indications that we are being impatient.

Fourth, most of these attributes of love have a flipside. Although we are commanded to be patient, there are times we need to be impatient. When we or someone else is in a position of danger, we must take action. This is obviously true for physical safety, but it is also true for spiritual safety as well. From confronting the brother or sister in sin, to removing a false teacher or an unrepentant sinner from the church (as was the problem of the Corinthian church in chapter 5 - they were too patient with the man having relations with his stepmother), actions must be taken that protect the flock and honor the Lord. But even then, depending on the situation, a degree of patience must be exercised. 2 Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word…reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience." 1 Thessalonians 5:14, "We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly…(but) be patient with everyone."

Fifth, we must never forget God's patience with us. When we are tempted to lose control over others who disappoint us in any way, let's never forget how patient God is with us when we disappoint Him everyday. May we exercise the grace we have received from God with each other. May we even be patient with those who are impatient with us!

Sixth, let's remember in our impatience that we rarely have the complete picture. For example, I was wondering why the sermon from last week had yet to be uploaded on the website by Thursday morning. It would have been very easy to jump to conclusions (and I almost did) that the ministry was failing in their responsibilities. But after further investigation, I came to find out that the web host upgraded their software and Tom had been unable to log on. Lately he'd been e-mailing the sermons to Gerry, but last week's was too large. Gerry spent over an hour on the phone with the tech support and sent the solution to Tom, but Tom spent much of the week in Philadelphia supporting his wife as she underwent surgery. Before we jump to false conclusions and turn people into monsters, let's remember we rarely have the complete picture. Patience!

Seventh, if we are honest with ourselves, we all need to work on our patience. However, let's not walk away thinking this is not that serious! According to the context, our problem is not that we simply lack patience. Our problem is that we lack love! According to verse 4, "Love is patient."

Well, let's move to our second attribute also found in verse 4, "Love is kind." This morning we'll examine the definition, the explanation and the application of kindness. Let's begin with the definition.


Many have defined kindness as the flip side of patience. In other words, both kindness and patience go together; they are two sides of the same coin, so to speak.

Let's pretend someone has treated you unfairly. Possibly they have ignored you or misjudged you or attacked you. If you are in the flesh, your defense mechanisms will instantly kick in. You will fight to win or you will run from the situation. However, if you are in the Spirit, patience and kindness will kick in. You will forebear with the individual, believe the best and remain in self-control. That's the patience side. That's the passive side. However, we are not permitted to ignore or avoid those who offend us. There is an active side as well. There is a kindness side that seeks to do the other person good. Therefore patience and kindness are both necessary, especially when we find ourselves in conflict with another.

Along these lines we can say patience takes anything from others while kindness gives anything to others. Or patience endures abuse while kindness repays abuse with good deeds. Or patience holds back wrath while kindness extends mercy and goodness.

Specifically speaking, "Kindness is the inner disposition, created by the Holy Spirit that causes us to be sensitive to the needs of others" (Jerry Bridges). Kindness prepares our hearts to take action. Then goodness (a word often used interchangeably with kindness) takes over and produces tangible efforts that are specifically geared to satisfy the needs of others.

Kindness is the desire to be thoughtful and helpful that seeks to creatively meet the genuine needs of others. Spirit-led kindness shows its true form when we can act this way even to those who are ungrateful or mistreat us (Lk. 6:33) or don't have the means to repay us (Lk. 6:34). These are the times when we truly show ourselves different than unbelievers.


Let's move to the example of kindness. The Scriptures provides us with numerous examples of kindness.

How can we forget the story of King David? Few, if any, would David have considered a greater friend than Jonathan. The Scriptures say, "He loved him as he loved his own life" (1 Sam. 20:17). However, when Jonathan died, David wished to demonstrate his love for his deceased friend. The king asked, "Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake" (2 Sam. 9:1)? Jonathan's son Mephibosheth who was crippled in both feet was brought forth and given the privilege to eat the king's table regularly (2 Sam. 9:7).

Dorcus from Acts 9 comes to mind as well. She made "tunics and garments" for the people. The Bible says "this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did" (Ac. 9:36).

Or remember the Apostle Paul as he awaited execution in a dark and cold prison, which was nothing more than a hole in the ground? Most in the church had abandoned their friend in his most desperate hour (2 Tim. 1:15), but one man in particular risked his life to be kind to the Apostle. In his own words, Paul said, "The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me…and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus"(1 Tim. 1:16-18).

There are other examples where individuals were clearly wronged and yet responded to those who wronged them with kindness.

Consider the example of Joseph. Sold into a life of slavery by his own brothers. But through the providence of God eventually found himself second in command in Egypt. When his starving brothers approached him requesting food, he had the authority to administer the severest measure of revenge. While they expected what might have been due them, Joseph replied, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Gen. 50:20a). Instead of retaliation, Joseph responded with many deeds of kindness.

How can this list be complete without the example of Jesus? No other person in history has been treated more unfairly than the sinless Son of God. And if anyone has a right to execute wrath and judgment, none would have more than Jesus Christ. Yet when He was offended, He forgave. When He was rejected, He restored. When He had the power to call upon twelve legions of angels during his arrest (Mt. 26:53), He said, "(Peter), put the sword into the sheath" (Jn. 19:11). When people like us repeatedly sin against Him, He gives to us the kindest gift of all - forgiveness! Peter when called to summarize the life of Christ said, "He went about doing good" (Ac. 10:38).

His kindness is evident today for those of us who are in Christ. In Matthew 11 Jesus said, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Mt. 11:30). The same word for "kind" in 1 Corinthians 13 is the same word that is translated "easy" in this verse. Therefore we can say the yoke of Jesus is "kind."

Can we include ourselves in this list? Are we easy to be "yoked with?" Could others say we "go about doing good?" Do we "abound in deeds of kindness?" Each of us is given countless opportunities to extend kindness to others. There are many hurting people. I think of the Psalmist who said, "For there is no one who regards me…No one cares for my soul" (Psm. 142:4). I read this week that some say "ninety percent of all mental illness…can be cured by simple kindness" (Drescher, Spirit Fruit, p. 210). Are we ministering to a suffering world? Believers and unbelievers? Friends and enemies? How are we doing? Are we using our talents, time and treasures for our self or for the benefit of another? Are we showing our love through deeds of kindness? Let's remember, "Love is kind" (1 Cor. 13:4).

Allow me to provide you with some practical examples. This list is extremely far from being exhaustive:

  • Giving someone a gift.
  • Introducing yourself to a stranger.
  • Smiling at others and speaking words with gentleness and grace.
  • Listening to a person who is having a bad day.
  • Returning library items on time so the librarians don't need to seek out the materials and others can use them.
  • Slipping a note in someone's mailbox or sending an e-mail to encourage them regarding some spiritual aspect.
  • Calling someone on the phone that you haven't spoken to in a while.
  • Showing up on time for appointments.
  • Serving in a church ministry and asking where help is needed.
  • Restoring a relationship.
  • Promising to pray for another.
  • Watching someone's children.
  • Inviting a person or family over to your home for a meal.
  • Helping a person with a need they cannot accomplish on their own - like doing their yard work or driving them for groceries.
  • Helping people even with things they can accomplish on their own.
  • And the most loving and most kind action is sharing Christ with another.

We must be people actively engaged in kindness. It's been said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Are we showing the world that we care?

A story is told about a chaplain on the battlefield who came to a man that was wounded, lying on the ground. "Would you like me to read you something from this Book - the Bible?" he asked the soldier. "I'm so thirsty," replied the man; "I would rather have a drink of water." Quickly as he could the chaplain brought the water. Then the soldier asked, "Could you put something under my head?" The chaplain took off his light overcoat, rolled it, and put it under the soldier's head for a pillow. "Now," said the soldier, "If I had something over me! I am very cold." There was only one thing the chaplain could do. He took off his own coat, and spread it over the soldier. The wounded man looked up into his face and said gratefully, "Thank you." Then he added feebly, "If there is anything in that Book in your hand that makes a man do for another what you have done for me, please read it to me" (Moody Monthy).

Kindness is not optional. It not only for professional Christian ministers to practice with their people. It is expected from everyone who claims the name of Christ.

Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Colossians 3:12, "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Let's put off the deeds of the flesh and put on the fruit of the Spirit. Let's give evidence to ourselves and others that we truly are the children of God. Instead of fighting back with the weapons of this world, let's fight back with the weapons of godliness.

"An old Christian man moved into a community where lived a notoriously disagreeable and contentious neighbor. When informed of the character of his neighbor the old (Christian) man answered, 'If he disturbs me, I will kill him.' His statement reached the ears of the villainous neighbor who in various ways tormented the new settler. But every offense was met with kindness until at last the contentious neighbor was overwhelmed. 'I was told that he would kill me, but I did not know he would (kill me with kindness)'" (William P. King).

Alexander Maclaren said, "Kindness makes a person attractive. If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it."


So how do we going about doing kindness when we by nature are self-seeking and self-lovers? Allow me to provide five points of application that will greatly assist you to obey God in this area.

1. Depend on the Holy Spirit

First, just as we learned last week with patience, genuine kindness will not come naturally. Even our best efforts will not produce the kindness God desires. In order to be kind to others, we must have God's kindness working through us. We must abide in Christ through obedience and allow His Spirit to produce this attribute in us. Galatians 5:22, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…"

So when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, God will use us as a conduit to extend His kindness to others. God will fill us with Himself and give us a genuine love for others. The Holy Spirit will provide opportunities. Kindness will flow from God, through us, to others. We will naturally function as the "Good Samaritan" (Lk. 10). When the cycle operates in this way, our extension of kindness is genuine, others receive divine goodness and God receives all the glory.

2. Remember God's kindness with you

Second, be sure to always remember how kind God is with you both before you were saved and even now after you are saved!

His kindness leads us to repentance. Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" His kindness is put on display through us. Ephesians 2:7, "So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." God's patience holds back His wrath while His kindness extends to us immeasurable blessings of love.

Since we "have tasted the kindness of the Lord" (1 Pet. 2:3), we as Christians, of all people, should especially demonstrate kindness to others. We fail to always thank Him for His kindness, but it keeps coming. We don't deserve His kindness, but it keeps coming. We can never repay Him for His kindness, but it keeps coming.

3. Follow the example of Jesus

Third, follow the example of Jesus.

In Luke 6, Jesus gave us this instruction. "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you… If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount" (Lk. 6:27, 28, 32-34).

Jesus taught it and He lived it out - kindness! And did you notice the ones He specifically chose that should receive our kindness? The very ones we often exclude - Our enemies and those who cannot repay us! And why are we commanded to be kind to these individuals? Because that is the example we are to follow from our heavenly Father! In verse 35 Jesus said, "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men."

We must follow the example of Jesus! George Bethune said, "And so in the judgment day, the inquiry will be made not into our opinions or professions alone, but into our deeds, as proving the correctness of our faith and the sincerity of our professions. Never can we know that we are in the right way, except we walk in the footsteps of Him, who did good in all His life and death. He came from heaven to do good on earth, that we in doing good might tread the path to heaven" (The Fruit of the Spirit, p. 132).

4. Pray for others

The fourth way we can develop a kind heart for others is to pray for them. Prayer has a unique ability to soften our heart and change our attitude toward someone. It's rather difficult to hate someone you are praying for. As one author put it, "(Prayer) melts selfishness into concern" (Elizabeth George).

Furthermore, prayer for others promotes kind actions. It's very convicting to pray for another's needs and then fail to act on them when the Holy Spirit makes them plain to you. There's hypocrisy in saying, "Lord, I pray you will help my neighbor shovel her driveway," and then fail to act when you have both the time and means to accomplish the task.

5. Remember the Golden Rule

Last, remember the "Golden Rule." In Matthew 7 our Lord said, "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Mt. 7:21; Lk. 6:31). It's a simple yet very profound guideline. Do unto others! We all have the capacity to know how we would like to be treated. Make every effort to treat others in like manner.

Acts of kindness must begin in the family (1 Ti. 5:8). Then they can move to the church (Gal. 6:10). Then they can move to the world of unbelievers.

You rub shoulders with hurting people everyday. Will God use you as His agent to dispense His kindness in this abusive and harsh New Jersey culture? Will you cheer someone up? Will you bear another's burdens? Will you sacrifice so another may benefit? Will you make every effort to make especially your home and your church environments of kindness? Wouldn't you like that?

My friends, we must not be those who grieve about the lack of kindness done to us. We must be those who grieve about our self-focus that deters us from doing kindness to others. We must not be guided by what others are doing. We must be part of the solution. We must set the example if necessary (2 Cor. 6:6) and take full pleasure in the hidden smile of God. For He has "prepared good works beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph. 2:10). We must "not lose heart in doing good" (Gal. 6:9).

If you were busy being kind,

Before you knew it you would find,

You'd soon forget to think 'twas true,

That some one was unkind to you.

If you were busy being glad,

And cheering people who are sad,

Although your heart might ache a bit,

You'd soon forget to notice it.

If you were busy being good,

And doing just the best you could,

You'd not have time to blame some man

Who's doing just the best he can.

Author Unknown

As I conclude, I leave each of you with a homework assignment. Your assignment is to creatively think of ways your can show kindness to two individuals or families within this church. Near the end of this week I plan to call five people at random to see how they have implemented their homework. I'll share the results with you next Sunday morning.

We must get ourselves in the habit of doing kind deeds. We must remember the blessing it is to receive kindness, but the greater blessing to extend kindness to another. As our Lord told us, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Ac. 20:35).

other sermons in this series

Mar 26


Love Bears, Believes, Hopes and Endures

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7 Series: The Preeminence of Love

Mar 19


Love Rejoices With Righteousness

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5 Series: The Preeminence of Love

Mar 12


Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5 Series: The Preeminence of Love