Rick Warren - Counter-Culture Kindness
I'm not gonna tell you, I love you this week. I'm gonna say, I like you. I don't just love you, I like you. I think you're the coolest people around. If you pull out your message notes, today, we're in part two in a series called counterculture, living in an age of outrage, and I told you that I got this idea from Ed Stetzer's book, I showed it to you last week. Here's what it looks like "Christians in the Age of Outrage". How to bring out our best when the world is at its worst. And this weekend, I want us to look at counter-culture, kindness. I don't know if you know this or not, but God has a lot to say in the Bible, about kindness. It's a big deal to God. You learning to be kind is a big deal because God is kind everything you have in your life, out of the kindness of God. And in a rude world where people are bad mannered and uncivil and more polarized than ever before, to be kind is actually to be counterculture. God has this to say in First Thessalonians chapter five, verse 15 make sure that you never pay back one wrong with another wrong. Instead, always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
Now friends that is counterculture in today's world, to not do tit for tat, to not retaliate, to not fight back, to not return one wrong for another, but to always be kind to each other and to everyone else. I don't know if you realize this, but you put far more effort in looking nice than in being nice. You do. Okay, you spend more time in front of a mirror, making sure your appearance is right than you spend time in front of God making sure your attitude is right. If you wanna improve your appearance, you wanna be more beautiful or handsome. I'll give you the secret. Here's Rick secret, it's free. To look really nice, be nice. To look really nice be nice. It will improve your appearance 100% . People like being around people who are nice. People don't like being around people who look nice but aren't nice. So, spend a little bit more time on your attitude than on your appearance.
Now we're also concerned about dressing for success. Let me show you what God says is the key to dressing for success in life. Philippians four verse five, excuse me, no. Colossians 3:12, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves, these are the kinds of clothes you need to put on to dress for success. Five things, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. If you are those things all the time you would be dressing for success in everything you do. Now, I wonder if I were to ask people who know you best, what quality are you best known for in your neighborhood? What quality Are you best known for at work? Or at school or wherever you are? I wonder what they would say. What quality would they say? Now God's very clear what He wants people to say about you. The next verse, Philippians four verse five, your kindness should be known to all. God wants you to have a reputation for kindness.
And the reason why I wanna share this message today is because I wanna be a kind man. But I want you to be known in your neighborhood as the kindest person in the neighborhood. I want if I were to go to your neighborhood or go to your work and say, who's the kindest person in your office? Who's the kindest person in your neighborhood? Oh, it's that guy. He's the kindest guy I know. She is the kindest woman I know. I want you to be a man of kindness, a woman of kindness. I want you to be famous for your kindness. I want our church family I want us collectively to be known as that is the kindest church on the planet.
Okay, they may not get everything right. But you know what, when you mess up, they really treat you with kindness at that place. That is the kindness Church on earth. That would be a good reputation to have, because God is very, very clear about what He wants you and me to be known for look at this first one the screen. First Corinthians 16:14 says, everything you do, must be done with love. Now what's the relationship between love and kindness? Write this down. Here's your definition of kindness is love in action. That's what kindness is. Kindness is just love in action. Kindness is not an emotion. Kindness is not a feeling. You might have all kinds of what you think are kind feelings towards somebody. But if you don't ever act in a kind way, you're not kind. Kindness is not something you feel toward someone, kindness is something you do toward someone. It is an activity, it is an event, it is an action. Kindness is love in action.
Now, this is so important to your life, that God had Jesus tell a very famous story about it. In fact, probably the most famous story in the entire Bible is called the story of the Good Samaritan. He told the story to explain what it really means to be kind 'cause we don't really understand kindness, we kind of think we know, but we don't really understand it. And it's called the Good Samaritan. Now, even that title doesn't make sense if you don't know the background. The Samaritans were a different race from the Jews and they both lived in Israel. And they were both guilty of racial prejudice. They were both bigoted against each other. The Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews.
And there was a lot of racial profiling. There was a lot of bigotry. There was a lot of racism. In fact, one of the phrases of Jews in that day was it's better to be a dog than to be a Samaritan. That's how much animosity there was between these two groups. Jesus typically turns the tables, and He does the opposite of what people expect. And He makes, quote, the bad guy in the Jewish idea, the hero of the story. He makes the hero of the story, the person who was despised, who was outcast who was prejudiced against. And he does this because Jesus was never, ever politically correct. Never. He didn't care about political correctness, He cared about being correct, not politically correct.
Now, He tells this story, He sets up the story because of a question that is asked here on the screen. In Luke chapter 10 it says, one day, an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him a question. He says, "Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life"? Pretty good question. How do I get to heaven? What do I do to receive eternal life? Jesus replied, "Well, what is the law of Moses say"? And the man answered, "Well, the law of Moses says this. That you must love the Lord. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind. And you have to love your neighbor as yourself. That's called the Great Commandment. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and lastly love your neighbor as yourself". Jesus goes, "That's right". Bingo, good answer. You got the right guy. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, you got the you in the car. He says, do this, and you'll live. But the man wanted to justify his actions. So he asked Jesus, so Lord, who's my neighbor? And Jesus answered by telling them a story.
Now what's going on here? This guy doesn't wanna have to love everybody. And he said, Surely when you say love your neighbor as yourself, you're not talking about like the whole world. Like you don't expect me to love people I don't like. You don't expect me to love my enemies. You don't expect me to love people who are different from me who think different, act different, live different, different races, different languages. No, no, surely you can't when you say love your neighbor, that can't mean everybody, what is he doing? He's looking for a loophole. Like you've never done this with a command of God. When God says, this is what I want you to do, and you got on a is there a little loophole here? Is there a grandfather clause is there a little way out? Because I don't happen to like this. It's too general, too generic. I'm gonna have to love everybody like I love myself.
That's a radical kind of love to love everybody as myself means I am to love everybody else as much as I love myself. You gotta be kidding me, really? And so, he is a radical concept, and he's trying to reduce his responsibility. I don't wanna have to love everybody, especially I don't want to love my enemies and especially don't want to love people like Me. And so he says, so who's my neighbor? And Jesus answers that question with this famous story. Now, the story is that this guy is going from Jerusalem from Jericho down to Jerusalem on the road. I had been on this road before. The road from Jericho to Jerusalem is like coming down a mountain. It's like coming down from Big Bear to San Bernardino. It's a very curvy road, lots of pin, pin, tail, you know, curves, and thieves and robbers were famous for being in this area.
And when travelers would go from Jericho down to Jerusalem, they would often get robbed, raped, beat up, tortured, all kinds of stuff because there are plenty of places to hide in these little crooked roads. And this one guy, he gets beat up by a bunch of bandits and he's left for dead on the side of the road. And then three more travelers come down, and they see the guy who's been hurt by the side of the road, the first two pay no attention to the guy or just kind of blow them off. And the third guy actually helps him and he is called the Good Samaritan. He was a Samaritan. So he's the bad guy actually, in this culture. He is the guy that Samaritan helping a Jew would be like a black guy helping some save the life of a Klu Klux Klan bigot or a Holocaust survivor, saving the life of a Nazi perpetrator. It's the exact opposite of what you would expect.
And so he tells this story, he says there's three different guys there's a priest, there's a levite and there's a Samaritan, and they all encounter this crime scene when they're going from Jericho down to Jerusalem. Each of these three people represents an attitude. Now, I wanna be clear, you're not one of these or I'm the Samaritan. No, no, no, you can have all three of these attitudes in the same day. Okay, you can act like the first guy in one moment, the second guy in another moment, and the third guy in another moment, so don't go well, that's me, I'm number three. I'm the good guy. No, no, you can have all three of these attitudes in the exact same day. So we're gonna look at it. Each of these represents three possible attitudes toward people that you could express, as I said, in three different situations.
So let's look at the three attitudes. The first guy is the priest. He's the first traveler, and here's what we learned from the priest. This attitude is the I can keep my distance, attitude. It is the attitude of avoidance. I can keep my distance. And he sees the guy and he really does he want to be close to him. So he goes over to the other side of the road. In Luke chapter 10, verse 30, and 31. It says this. There was a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, beat him up, leaving him half dead. So he's naked and he's half dead. He's all of his belongings have been stolen. Now, it's so happened, I want you to right now we'll come back to the circle the phrase, it's so happened, we'll come back to it later on. It so happened that a priest was going down that that same road, but when he saw the man who was in pain, he walked on by on the other side, he walked on by on the other side.
Now, this is the attitude of avoidance. If I don't pay attention, then it's not my responsibility. This guy's walking down the road, he sees a man left half or dead, naked, bleeding to death. And instead of helping the guy, he just crosses over to the other side of the road and keeps walking out of sight, out of mind, I'm just going to avoid it, I'm going to keep my distance. That's why I go move to the other side of the road to keep my distance that if I ignore it, I don't have to do anything about it. I don't have to pay attention. I'm not responsible.
Now, a lot of people actually live this way. And it's this, don't get too close to people. So then you don't have to help them when they're in pain. Don't get too close to people keep all your relationships shallow. Don't really get involved in people's lives, your neighbors lives, friends lives, small group lives. Just keep all your relationships superficial so you don't have to get involved. And then 'cause if you get close, you may have to help them. Stick to your own business. That way you can avoid a whole lot of hurt. Keep your distance, stay distracted.
Now, in cities like we live, it's pretty easy to do this. To keep your distance from people, you can live next to people for a long, long time and not be involved in their lives. I happen to have great neighbors on either side of me, the newbies live on one side and the march live on another. They've been great friends for literally decades. They're members of Saddleback Church, but sometimes I can go weeks without even seeing them, because we have a thing called automatic garage door openers. An automatic garage door means you can open the door and just go in close the door and go right into your house and never ever see your neighbors. And it might be you only see when you happen to be out getting the mail the same time or taking the trash out at same time and that may be it.
So we actually live in a culture that makes it easy to do this, keep my distance avoidance style. You see, we don't realize how many people around us are hurting, 'cause we don't see them. You know that in California, this state alone, there are six million people who live below the poverty line. Six million. That's bigger than most states, the number of poor people in this state, it's bigger than most states in America. And yet you never see 'em. Why? 'Cause you live on the other side of the road. And you walked on the other side of the road. And so it's easy to live this way this avoidance lifestyle. Now, that's the first attitude I have. I'm just gonna keep my distance. When I see somebody in pain I just walked over the other side of the road and keep walking 'cause I'm busy with what I'm doing. I'm preoccupied with me.
Now here's the second attitude. Second attitude represents the second guy. And he's a traveler and it is this I can be curious, but uncaring. I can be curious okay, but unacring, this guy's a little bit more interested, but he's not interested enough to do anything. This is the attitude not of avoidance. This is the attitude of apathy. I see the need of other people and I'm just too self centered to help. In other words, the second guy, it says he goes down and he goes actually goes over and looks at the guy and goes, um um, wow, very interesting. And then he goes on with his way. So here's what the Bible says about this guy. In verse 32, in the same way, a Levite also came, came there down the street, down the road, went over and looked at the man, but walked by on the other side. Now notice that there's been these first two guys.
By the way, a Levite, is not a gene salesman, okay? It means use a template system. Both of these guys the priest and the Levite are religious people, point. Being religious doesn't make you nice. Being religious doesn't make you kind. You could go to church all your life and be a miserable person with other people. Some of the most unkind people I know, were church attenders, being a religious person doesn't make you kind, being like Christ makes you kind. Now, the first guy is the priest. He's walking down on this side of the road, he sees this man, naked, bleeding, half dead. And he just goes, I'm gonna walk over here, walk on the other side of the road and keep going. I totally ignore him, I avoid him. The second guy is the Levite and it says this he's walking down on this side of the road, and he sees the guy over there, naked bleeding to death die, he walks over and stares at him.
Hmm very interesting. This is worse. Okay, this is worse. He's curious, but he's uncaring. And he sees the victim and he stares at the victim, but he doesn't help the victim. Notice verse 32. In the same way the Levite came there went over looked at the man, circle at look, but then he walked on by on the other side. He sees the victim, he stares at the victim, but he doesn't help the victim. He said, well, shoot, I'd never do that, Rick. Oh, really? How many freeway accidents have you gone by slowed down, looked, craned your neck out, because you are curious and you look and you stare and then you just keep on going. You didn't stop. And 30 seconds later you forgotten that? You were curious, but you didn't care 'cause you didn't stop. We do this all the time with people in pain around us in freeway accidents, everybody stares. Nobody stops, curiosity stares, kindness stops. I've told you many times that a lot of people like to study the steps of Jesus.
I like to study the stops of Jesus. What did Jesus allow to interrupt him? What was he willing to stop for? Because in the Bible, almost every miracle happens as a result of an interruption, a stop. What stopped Jesus? What stops you in the middle of your work to stop and care about somebody else? You see what I'm saying is this. We love to read about the pain of other people. That's why gossip magazines, and gossip TV shows are so popular. Why should you care about the divorce of somebody famous? Why should you care about the scandal of somebody famous? Why should you read something like People magazine or some of the other magazines that are just about the problems people have? We love to read about other people's problems. We love to talk about other people's problems. We love to gossip about other people's problems. We like to discuss other people's problems. We just don't wanna help people with their problems.
What you need is more TLC and less TMZ. All right, more TLC less TMZ. Let me show you a verse up here on the screen. Exodus 23 verse five. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you, now, we're not talking about a donkey of your best friend, we're talking about a donkey of somebody who despise you. They may be prejudiced against you. They may be your enemy. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you, has fallen under a heavy load, do not walk by is what the Bible says is what God says. Instead, stop, remember, you got to stop and offer to help. So he says, you're walking by and you see somebody you can't stand because they can't stand you. But here's an animal that's falling under a deep load, or falling in a ditch, you do the humane thing. You been kind to animals, you do the humane thing and you help that animal get out of the ditch. You help that donkey, get the heavy load of its back.
Now if God wants you to be humane and kind to animals, don't you think he wants you to be humane and kind to people? Yes, you should be humane and kind to animals. But people are more important than animals far, far more important. And God says you be kind, not just animals you be kind to everybody. See as a believer, I am not allowed to hate anybody. I am insisted by God that I be kind to everybody. I don't get any loophole on that. I don't have to agree with everybody. I don't have to approve of everything they do. They may not like me, they may be mean to me, I am not allowed to be mean to them if I claim to be a Christian. I am commanded by God, to be kind to everybody. I treat everybody with dignity and respect.
I don't have to agree with what they believe, how they live, what their lifestyle is, how they vote, what their political persuasion is, doesn't matter. I'm just supposed to treat them with dignity and kindness, and I'm not allowed to be unkind to anybody. That's what it means to be believers. In fact, the Bible says let him who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity means you're gonna call yourself Christian, and you should do the right thing. And if you're not going to be kind, stop calling yourself a Christian 'cause you're bad advertising for the rest of us. And there are Christians out there who are being unkind on the internet every day. And they're a bad witness. And they're painting everybody else.
Now, I can be this first guy be distant, keep my distance, be avoid avoidance. I can be curious and uncaring, that's apathy. Or the third thing, I could be like this Good Samaritan and that is this, I can show kindness. Write that down. This is the third response. Kindness is love in action. I can show kindness, verse 33, but the Samaritan, who was traveling that way, came upon the man and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. Now, as I said, Jesus love to turn the tables. This is a guy who's despised probably by the very man who's been hurt, okay? And yet he's the hero in the story. This guy helping a Jew would be Like a black man helping a Klu Klux Klan bigot and saving the guy's life. Or it would be like a Jew who had survived the Holocaust, helping a Nazi perpetrator and saving their life when that person probably wanted to kill him, it's the ultimate example of kindness.
Now in Matthew 7:12, here on the screen, it says this, excuse me, Luke 10:33. Nevermind 10:33 a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man and when he saw his heart was filled with what? Pity, that's the that's the heart of kindness. Now, what what is the basis behind this the next verse, Matthew seven, verse 12. Jesus says, always treat others as you would like them to treat you, you know this, this is called the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you will have them do unto you always treat other people the way they want to treat. How do you wanna be treated, with kindness? That how are you commanded treat everyone else with kindness. I am not allowed to treat other people in a way I don't want to be treated.
Now, why should I always be kind? Well, there are a couple reasons. First, God says that if you're unkind, your life will be unproductive. If you're unkind, your life will be unproductive, it will be barren. Look at this verse Galatians, chapter six, verse seven, the person who plants selfishness, they store it for themselves, ignoring the needs of others, harvest a crop of weeds, and all we'll have to show for his life is weeds. I could show you testimonies of guys that I know who went there. They were married and they had kids, but to pay no attention to their wife or their kids. They were living totally for themselves, ended up in divorce estranged from the kids and now in old age, their life is barren, full of weeds. Why? 'Cause they were planting seeds of selfishness the whole time. I my life will be unproductive, if I'm not kind.
On the other hand, God says, I will bless your life, the more kind you are, as a man, as a woman. The kinder you are God says, you'll be a blessing to other people. I'm gonna bless your life. Look at this verse, Proverbs 11, verse 17. Your own soul, the Bible says, your own soul is nourished, when you're kind. When you do an act of kindness. Remember, it's not an emotion, something you do for somebody, you do an act of kindness. Nobody else may even see it. Nobody else may even know it but God sees it. And He says, I'm gonna make sure you get blessed for that your own soul will be nourished. You know, this week, I went on the internet, I look for some examples of people saying be kind to everybody, not just be kind to your kind. That's easy, be kind to your kind, but be kind to other kinds of people do.
And I found this example of Ellen DeGeneres, Ellen DeGeneres and I would probably disagree on a lot of different things. We would not see eye to eye on many things. But I love Ellen DeGeneres. Why? Well, number one, she said a hilarious comedian who was always clean. And that's hard to find today, a clean comedian who was always clean. And she never uses her humor to put down other people to attack others. I appreciate that. She's a great humanitarian. But more than that, she's a kind soul. And in a world that's increasingly unkind and uncivil, we need more people who show kindness like our watch this little clip.
So this weekend, I went to Dallas for the Cowboys game, and during the game they showed a shot of Georgian me laughing together and people were upset. They thought why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican President. Didn't even notice I'm holding the brand new iPhone 11. And I was aware that I was gonna be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs. And I'm not talking about politics. I was rooting for the packers and get this everybody in the Cowboys suit was rooting for the Cowboys. And so I had to hide my cheese hat and Portia's purse. Here's the thing, I'm friends with George Bush. In fact, I'm friends with a lot of people who don't share the same beliefs that I have. We're all different. And I think that we've forgotten that that's okay that we're all different. Just because I don't agree with someone on everything doesn't mean that I'm not gonna be friends with them. When I say be kind to one another I don't mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean, be kind to everyone. Doesn't matter.
Yeah, I couldn't say it better than Ellen. Be kind to everybody. And Jesus, if He were here today would say this to be kind to everybody. I follow Ellen on Twitter, she follows me on Twitter. And why? Because she's kind, and I'm kind and we're not just kind to people who are our kind. We're kind to everybody. Okay, we're kind to everybody. So that's important. So how do you become a kinder person? How can you as a man be a kinder man? And how can you as a woman, be a kinder woman? When you were you become famous, and they got that is the kindest guy in our neighborhood. She is the kindest woman in our neighborhood. Well, this passage gives us four incredibly powerful truths. This story that Jesus told is packed with wisdom. And I wanna take you through these four steps to becoming a kinder person.
Number one, it starts with your vision. It starts with the way you look first, I must see the needs of people around me. I'm a see the needs of people around me. In verse 33, this is the first thing the Good Samaritan does. He observes, he looks, he notices he's aware. Luke 10 verse 33, when he saw circle that when he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him. It starts by seeing things you've been missing. Love begins with looking. Sensitivity begins with seeing. You can't care until you are first aware. You got to start noticing the people in pain around you that you haven't been noticing. Kindness always starts with your eyes. With the way you look at people. It starts with observation. You can't meet a need, until first you see a need and if you don't see it, you can't need it?
So first I must see the needs of people around me. Friends, wounded people are all around you all the time. They're around you right now. People on your row are deeply wounded. Why? Because everybody has a secret wound. Nobody goes through life unwounded. Everybody has a secret room so be kind to everybody. Nobody gets away scot free. Everybody has wounds, emotional wounds, trauma wounds, financial wounds, relational wounds, spiritual wounds, mental wounds, physical wounds. Everybody is wounded in different areas. You have to just start seeing it, noticing it.
Now the truth is you don't see the wounds of people around you very often. Why? Two reasons. They're hiding them and you're in a hurry. First, they are hiding them. People hide their grief. People hide their loneliness. People hide their insecurity. People hide their depression. People hide their pain. People hide their wounds, everybody's hiding, so you don't really see it. If you're not even looking for the second reason is 'cause you're always in a hurry, and hurry is the death of kindness. When I'm in a hurry, I have a hard time being kind. When I'm slow down a little bit, I can be a lot kinder and I had to fly somewhere in the world and some plane. I've discovered that when I have plenty of time, and I get to the airport and plenty of time I can be nice to everybody. I'm nice to the ticket agent. I'm nice to the baggage claim. I'm nice to the Starbucks barista. I stop and take pictures with people. I kiss little babies.
I have a good old time I make friends with the taxi driver. I talked to him about his life. Why? 'Cause I'm not in a hurry. But if I'm late, and I'm rushing to get to an airplane, sorry, I don't have time to stop and notice you. I'm in a hurry. And so hurry is the death of kindness. Why don't your write principle down. The slower I go, the more I'll see. Write that down. The slower I go, the more I'll see. You see, I can't be bothered if I'm busy. You got your problem, I got mine. I'm in a hurry. I can't be bothered if I'm busy. So if I'm gonna be more kind, I'm gonna have to figure out how to not be so busy and The slower I go, the more I'll see. If I want to take my kids and my grandkids and show them America. Well, I can do it fast or slow. And I can get on a plane and fly to the east coast about five and a half hours. And in that flight at 35,000 feet and 350 miles an hour, you're not seeing anything. You're really not seeing anything, you're just going too fast.
If I really want my kids and grandkids to see America, I gotta take a train, which goes a whole lot slower and they can look out the window. If I really wanted to see it. We got to take a car trip and go slower, and honestly, I guess if I really want them to notice we can ride a bicycle. Okay, and go and if I really want them to notice all the flora and fauna and all a little crickets, then we're gonna walk across America. The point is, the slower you go, the more you see. And so if the first step is being kind to seeing means you gotta slow down. You gotta slow down. The slower I go, the more I'll see first Corinthians 10:24 says this, look out, circle that, look out for the good of others. Don't just look out for your own good look out for the good of others.
So the first step in kindness is to ask God to give you spiritual radar. And he's and you pray God help me to see people, the way you see them. Help me to see people the way you see them. And help me to always be on the lookout for the person in pain the person in need for those who needs some kind of kindness. Now, some of you you don't even need this sermon, because you're just naturally good at it. You are a naturally sensitive soul. Well, good for you, okay. But you don't get any credit because you were just naturally gifted that way. For the rest of us, it's a little harder and we have to learn it. By nature, I am not a sensitive person. By nature, I'm not paying attention to other people's needs. Why? I'm a man. Okay? Okay, I'm a man, all right. And so it's not my instinct to be sensitive to what's going on around me, but I can learn it.
Now I grant you that's a generalization. Generalizations are often generally wrong. And not all men are that way. But I'm just telling you, I by nature, I'm not a sensitive person. I had to learn it and it took me a lot of mistakes to learn it. I remember one time many, many, many years ago, I was walking across the patio and I was talking to people and some lady came out and she said, pastor, last week I was sobbing last week and you walked right past me. That broke my heart. I wouldn't want to do that to anybody. But I didn't see her. I just didn't see here. And I said, I've got to be more aware of people around because if you care, you'll be aware. So I pray God help me to be on the lookout. Some of us need to pray God, we have spiritual ADD. We have a spiritual attention deficit disorder. We're not seeing what you're doing. We're not seeing the pain and the people around us, it requires a little extra effort. But I tell you what, I will tell you this, you can learn it. I have. I've learned it. You can learn it to as a man or as a woman, I have to first see their needs. Okay, here's the second step becoming a really kind person.
Number two, I must be sympathetic. I must sympathize with their pain. I have to see their need and then I have to sympathize with their pain. Seeing their need is observation. And being sensitive or sympathizing with their pain, it has to do with your emotions. You see kindness isn't just seeing a pain. Kindness is sympathizing with the pain. It's not enough just to know what people's needs are. You got to feel their emotion. Verse 33, when he saw him, the guy who'd been beaten up, his heart was filled with compassion. Now, the Bible says over and over, that we need to be sympathetic to each other. It says, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. In other words, you should mirror and mimic the emotions of the people around you.
So if somebody is in pain, then you share that pain. If somebody is happening, you should celebrate and be happy with them. And God even created what's called in your brain mirror neurons that allow you to feel the emotion of other people. So why when you watch something on a movie, and somebody gets kissed, and you can feel that kiss and if somebody gets mad and you get angry, those are called mirror neurons. God wired you with this ability. Just don't shut it down in your life. Everybody has mirror neurons in the brain. And so your heart must be filled with compassion. It's okay. How do I get that? How do I become a more sympathetic person? Two words. How do you become a more sympathetic person?
Here it is, write it down. Listen better. Listen, better. Sympathy is a matter of your ear. Seeing is a matter of your eye, sympathy is a matter of your ear. I see with my eyes, but I sympathize with my ears. Your ears are some of the greatest healing tools God gave you. You can actually heal people by just listening to them. Some people all they need is somebody to be a listening ear. They don't need advice. They just need attention. They need a listening ear. And sometimes love is just listening. You don't try to give any advice you just listen. Now, guys, let me talk to the guys for a minute. We're not real good at this, okay? We're not real good at this. So I'm gonna ask you to start practicing what I call first date listening.
First Date listening, if you can remember back that far, when you were trying to really impress some cute girl, and you take her to a restaurant or a diner, and she starts talking and you're trying to act like you're paying attention, okay? And you're leaning in and you go yeah wow, whoa yeah and you're nodding and you're active. And man, that is a problem, wow. And, you're really getting into it. Now this is not easy for you. It seems foreign to you, you're not used to activism, and you're paying a lot of tension. And after that first day, you went home and you were exhausted. You'd never put out so much energy in your life, just trying to listen to a woman talk to you. But you can get good at it, okay? But the truth is 10 years later, you're sitting in chilies with your wife eaten your nachos, and she's going, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow And you're not paying any attention at all, okay? All right. That is not kind, okay. That is not kind.
Now, ladies. Be kind your husband who's not being kind to you, okay? Don't rip him for this, just pray for him, all right. Everybody in the world has two fundamental basic needs. Everybody, man or woman doesn't matter. First, everybody has a need to be understood. You need to feel like there's somebody in the world who gets you. I am understood. They know what I'm saying, they know what I mean. They get me they understand everybody has that need to be intellectually feel like I'm understood. And number two, everybody has a need to be validated. And that has to do with your emotions, like somebody goes and not only understand you, you're not weird for thinking that. I validate you that fear you have that concern, you have that emotion you have that anger you have, I get it, it make sense to me. You need to be validated. Both of those great needs are met by listening. And when you listen to somebody and you pay attention, and you say I understand and you validated, you have given them an enormous gift and you have been kind at that moment.
I read this poem long time ago and I thought it was good. When I asked you to listen to me, and you start giving me advice, you haven't done what I asked. When I asked you to listen to me, and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way you trample on my feelings. When I asked that you listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems you have failed me strangers that may seem. Just listen, advice is cheap. 50 cents will get you a paper newspaper with both Dear Abby and Billy Graham advice columns in the same paper and I can do that for myself. I am not helpless. I may be discouraged. I may be faltering, but I'm not helpless. So please just listen and hear me. And if you wanna talk, well then wait a minute for your turn, and I'll listen to you. That is kindness.
Long before Matthew, my son died, I had read a book on grief by Joseph Bailey a great book called A View from the Hearse. And he said this. He was talking about the death of his son. I was sitting torn by grief. Somebody came in and talk to me of God's dealings, and of why it happened. And the hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly. He said things that I knew were true. But I was unmoved. Except to wish that he'd go away, and he finally did. But then another came and sat beside me in my grief. He didn't talk, he didn't ask me leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour and more listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply and left. And I was moved. And I was comforted. And I hated to see him go. That's kindness.
One of the reasons we're not sensitive to other people, is because we don't look at where they've come from. We look at how far they've got to go. The people who listen to me real closely on this, the people who irritate you, at work at school. Sitting next to you don't look at 'em anywhere, people who irritate you are you just have a hard time getting along with him just kind of butt heads a lot or whatever. The problem is, you're asking the wrong questions. What we always do is we look at how far people still have to go. But we don't often give them credit for how far they've already come. So we don't give them grace. You don't know the trauma they've been through. You don't know the hard situation they grew up with. You don't know the pain they're carrying now. And so you're just judging them on how far they need to go.
All of us are like Paul, who could say, Thank God I'm not what I used to be. Thank God, I am what I am. Thank God, I'm not what I'm gonna be. You're in all three stages in your life. And I need to love you and accept you and show you respect at all three stages. So when you're having a hard time accepting somebody whose behavior is not helpful to you, I want you to write this down. Okay, stop asking this is a key to kindness. Stop asking what's wrong with them? Okay, stop asking what's wrong with them? And instead, I want you to ask this question. Instead ask what happened to them? What happened to them? Then you're gonna be a little bit more gracious, a little more kind.
When you understand the hurt they've been through. Most of you guys know, I grow stuff. I'm a gardener, I grow vegetables and I grow 17 kinds of fruit. It's just kind of my therapy. And I have the ugliest pear tree known to mankind. And if you were to come and look at this pear tree, it bears fruit. It's just flat out ugly. And it looks really, really weird. And I know people come and look at my pear tree and go, what's wrong with that pear tree? what they should be asking is what happened to that pear tree. Because what happened was four years ago, a giant wind came through the canyon and broke off the three biggest branches. That's what happened. It didn't wanna look weird. It's just a rogue wind came through and blew off and broke a bunch of parts. You work with people who have broken branches. You have broken branches. You're not so cute yourself. I'm sorry. That wasn't kind.
Alright, so please forgive me. Sometimes you have yet to forgive your pastor, okay. All right, but you get the point. We've all had rogue winds come through our life and break things in our lives. We've all had brokenness in our lives. And the question is not what's wrong with you, but what happened to you? When you understand what happened, you cut people slack. You give them grace. I told how many times have you heard me say this? Hundreds of times, hurt people hurt people. Happy people don't hurt people. Hurt people hurt people. Your mom hurts you 'cause she's been hurt. Your dad hurt you because he was hurt. Happy people don't hurt people. Hurt people hurt people. So stop asking what's wrong with them? Start asking what happened to them. Everybody's got trauma in their lives. Does that makes sense? Get it? Get it. Good, all right.
Galatians 6:4, share each other's troubles and problems. And in this way, you will obey the law of Christ. What's the law of Christ, love your neighbor as yourself. I got this letter this week this week. Dear pastor Rick. I was having a lot of issues with somebody I worked with. I simply ran out of patience with this guy. I found myself always thinking poorly of him and truthfully, I was snarky with him. I was not polite with him, even when he tried to fix the situation and do his best. Then one day God convicted me about my unkindness. So I asked God what I should do. And I felt impressed that God wanted me to start doing kind things for this guy who I really didn't like at all.
So I'm trying to be kind, I started offering him rides when he needed rides, I started buying him coffee. I started helping him work in different ways. What happened next was amazing. By acting in kind ways, in other words, even when he didn't feel it, God changed my heart toward this guy. And he stopped being an irritation. Now at first, it was super uncomfortable for me to be nice to him. I admit it was uncomfortable when I started. But looking back, I can now see how toxic my heart had become. Today I'm thankful that God called me out on my bad attitude, because that guy who I didn't like, ended up becoming a really close friend to me for the past decade. All right. Go and do likewise.
Last two real quick, I have to see the needs of people around me. I have to sympathize with their pain. Number three, I have to seize the moment to help. I must seize the moment to help. This is the third thing the Good Samaritan does. It's a principle spontaneity. I don't delay, I don't wait. I don't procrastinate I do what I can now. All right and kindness is not something you wait to feel to do. If you wait until you feel It's not gonna happen. You act your way into a feeling. It's easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action. You don't wait till you feel kindness you just start acting kind toward people. This is true and rekindling the love of a marriage.
Well, when I start feeling love, I'll act loving toward my spouse. No, no, you just start acting, loving guess what the feelings will return if you start acting and faith. Kindness is not something you do, it's not something you feel something you do. I seize the moment tell it says he went to him, that's an action and he bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. So he goes, the Good Samaritan goes overseas, this guy hurting, he walks over to him and he bandages up and he uses oil and wine. Now a couple things I wanna say about this first, he's taking the initiative. He's not waiting for somebody else to come help him. He's doing it on his own doesn't wait for some neighbor to come out. He doesn't call 911. He does it himself takes initiative. The second he uses what he has.
Now it says he used oil and wine. That sounds like a salad dressing to me, okay? Oil and wine salad dressing. Why? Because he doesn't have a first aid kit. But he does have lunch. He's got lunch, so he uses what he's got. Well, actually pretty good because wine is alcohol and alcohol is cleansing, it's a disinfectant. And oil is soothing. So disinfecting and soothing a wound is a pretty good thing. So, you know, he's got his Caesar salad on the guy's thigh. Probably took the lettuce and put it on there rubbed it around and add, but he's using what he's got. It says he bandaged him up. I guarantee you he didn't have any bandages on his donkey. How did he bandage him, what he had to do? Take his own shirt or his own tuning rip it up and then bandages. He's taking His own clothes, ripping him up and making bandages for this guy. He's doing what he can, and he's not waiting for a professional.
Now this explains two things to me about kindness. Write these down. And number one. If I'm gonna be kind, I must be willing to be interrupted. I must be willing to be interrupted. Love is often inconvenient. Love takes time. And when you're kind sometimes it means your schedules going into the toilet or the trash. That's going down the drain, you're thrown out the window, because you weren't planning to help this person. I can't tell you how many times I've had to talk talk to call my assistant Tom, we had a day schedule and say, Tom, the schedule is out the window. I gotta help with the crisis. I gotta help on a need somebody in pain right now. And he could tell you time after time, my schedules just thrown out the window.
Now think of all excuses this guy could have given, he could have said, I got my own problems to deal with. I'm late for a business appointment in Jerusalem, I have to be there to make a presentation. The guy's probably dead already. Okay, I probably can't even help him, he's probably beyond how you can make up any excuse for not being kind and for not taking the time. Galatians 6:10 says this, whenever we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers that means the church. Now circle the word whenever says whenever we have the opportunity to help, we should do it. I looked up that word whenever and it means whenever. Okay, it means now, okay. You don't wait.
You remember, Tom mentioned earlier the phrase, it says it's so happened the priests walked by. It so happened that the priest walks by. What often seems to be a happenstance, a by chance in your life is an actually divinely planned encounter. God intentionally puts painful people in your path to see if you're gonna be crying. It's no accident. I'm guaranteeing you that after this sermon this week, God's gonna put somebody painful in your life. It's not an accident. He says this is a test. Are you gonna be self centered? Are you gonna be kind? What we think it just happened is not a happenstance. God plans it to test our character to grow our character to make us more like Him. He intentionally puts people in your path so you can grow in kind and some love.
Now I said, this teaches me I have to be willing to be interrupted. And almost every miracle of Jesus as I said, it was when he was interrupted, he was willing to stop and help somebody in pain. Second thing this teaches me is it for me to learn to be kind, I have to move against my fears, write that down. To be kind, I must move against my fears. Because fear keeps us from being kind. Now this guy here has all kinds of possible fears that he could be afraid of. Remember, this is a very treacherous road, as Tom talked about robbers and thieves everywhere. So he's gone what if I go over to help this guy, and the robbers are just in hiding, and they're gonna come out and they're gonna beat me up? Maybe they're still in the area, or maybe it's a trap, and he's just faking it laying there to get me to come over and help him and then robbers gonna rob me. Or what if he rejects my help? The guy's a Jew, I'm a Samaritan. He's prejudiced against me.
What if he wakes up and sees my face and goes, what are you doing helping me? What if I'm out helping that guy and other people walk by and they think I am the one who actually hurt him? And then they do a lawsuit against me? Because they will accuse me of hurting the guy. What if I really can't help him? What if he's beyond help? What if he asked me to do something I don't know how to do, you could make up all kinds of fears on why you don't wanna be kind to somebody this week. Proverbs 3:27 and 28. Never walk away from someone who deserves your help. Your hand is God's hand for that person. Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow, if you can help them now. So what I say don't delay, do the kindness now when somebody loses a loved one show up now. When somebody gets fired, call them now.
When somebody hears the word cancer, email and be there now, when somebody is having a tough time their hearts broken, go to them now, don't wait. You say I don't know what to say. I've told you many times, the deeper the pain, the fewer words you use, show up and shut up. It's the Ministry of Presence. You don't have to say anything probably be better that you don't. When somebody is in pain, you need to do more listening than talking. Just listen, look, listen, and sympathize. You don't need to say anything profound. You can't say anything profound when they're in their deepest pain. Just show up the Ministry of presence, but don't delay. Now this talking about fear brings up one big fear that I need to be honest with you about. Often we don't get involved in the pain of other people because it raises all kinds of bad emotions in us.
We don't wanna get involved in other people's brokenness because it raises the fears of thinking about our own brokenness. And if I can ignore your pain and ignore your brokenness and ignore your fears, then I don't have to face mine. And I would say to you, if that's true in your life, that you can't help people because you haven't really dealt with the pain in your own life, as your friend, as your pastor who loves you, I'm begging you to get some help. Get some counseling, that we have Christian counselors at Saddleback, and we can refer and help get some help because it's keeping you from being kind. You can't be kind because you're scared to death, that it's gonna raise up the fear in you. And so get some help. And then you'll be free and then you can help other people and you and you'll be kind. All right, let's review. To be kind, I got to see the need, to be kind I've gotta be sympathetic to the pain, and to be kind I've got to seize the moment.
There's one other thing number four, and this guy did it. To be kind, I must spend whatever it takes. I must spend whatever it takes. There is always a cost to kindness. This is the principle of a sacrifice. There's always a price tag. It usually requires a sacrifice of your time. It may require a sacrifice of your money. It certainly will require a sacrifice of your energy and attention. It might even require a sacrifice of your reputation. Because other people see you helping that person in the office, and then you get guilt by association. Jesus was never worried about guilt by association. He just said we're gonna go, we got to deal with this. Here's the last verses, verse 34, and 35. Then he put the man on his own donkey, and he took him to an inn where he took care of him.
And the next day, gave the innkeeper some silver. And he told him, he doesn't even know this guy. But he's taken him to a motel six takes care of him. The next day gives the innkeeper money says you take care of the guy. He said, if his bill runs higher than that, I'll pay the difference the next time I'm here. Takes him to the motel by the way, who's on the donkey now? The Hurt man. Good Samaritan's walking, okay. He nursed him through the night he provides first care, he pays his bill. He then calls 911, he does all he can to help. What did he gain from this? Nothing. But God saw it. God saw it and he's growing a kind heart. Now Jesus, remember this story was told to answer the question, who's my neighbor? Who am I supposed to? Who do I have to love? Jesus asked, so which of these three people would you say was a true neighbor to the one attacked? And the man said, well, the one who showed him kindness, and he said, you're right.
Now you go and do the same. And I'm saying to you, this week you go and do the same with people in your life. And let me just wrap this up by showing you one promise of God about kindness. Proverbs 19:17, being kind to the people in need, is like lending to the Lord. And He will repay you for the kindness you have shown. Anytime you help anybody else in pain, God says you're being kind. And that's like a loan to me. God says he said, you're not gonna be in my, I'm not going to be in your debt. You're gonna be mine, I will make sure you are repaid for your kindness. So who do you need to be kind to this week?
I want you to think here's your homework. Think of one person who is not a believer. One person, you know, who's not a believer, you see him every week. And I want you to start being kind to that person intentionally kind. If you know what their pain is, you write it down if you don't know what their pain is, you have some learning to do. But I want you to start being kind to one person who doesn't know the Lord that you see every week. This is what it means to be counterculture. To do the exact opposite of what our society says to do. And why do we be kind because God has been kind to us. Last verse on the screen. God saved you through faith as an act of his kindness. He had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God, everything I has because of God's kindness so I certainly should show kindness to everybody else. Let's bow our heads for prayer.
Father, I wanna thank you for your extravagant kindness to us. Thank you for your extravagant kindness to me. You sent Jesus to die for us. Father, we don't wanna be uncaring, we don't wanna be apathetic, we don't want to be avoiders, we don't wanna be fearful about those around us. We wanna learn to love our neighbors as ourselves. Help us to take these four steps to becoming kind men and kind women.
Now you pray. Can you say something like this, say:
Father, help me to slow down, so I can start seeing and sensing and sympathizing that with the needs of people around me. God, I need spiritual radar, I'm not that sensitive. Help me to be a better listener, so I can sympathize with people. And when interruptions come, help me to see them as opportunities to grow in kindness. Help me to be willing to take risks, to move against my own fears in order to help others. Lord, starting today, I'm making myself available to be used to show your kindness and love to people who don't know you yet. I'm asking for your help as I seize the moment this week, and I spend whatever it takes to be a kind person. I ask for your help.
If you've never invited Jesus in your life, say:
Jesus Christ, thank you for your kindness to me. I could never save myself, I wanna accept your kindness today. I wanna be a part of your family and I wanna trust you to save me 'cause I can't save me. So I'm turning myself to you today. And we all pray this Lord, in your name. Amen.