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  • Pastor Matthew Chester

The Biggest Problem in Relationships!

Relationships 101 –Luke 10:25-37

There is a huge problem in many relationships. It is a problem that has our political world upside down. It is a problem that has our social-economical world in turmoil.

It is such a large problem in all relationships, that society has just begun to believe that it is normal. Sadly, it has affected our marriages, churches, and all our relationships. In, fact I call it the biggest problem in relationships today! What is it? – a lack of kindness.

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, God begins the process of maturing us into his image. His Holy Spirit begins to produce characteristics in us. We literally take on the character of God, in whose image we were created. At the very heart of God is kindness.

Titus 3:4-6 - But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Psalm 69:16 - Answer me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me.

Sadly, many of us fail at showing kindness in our relationships. Without kindness, the faith that we profess is hypocrisy. You can attempt to be a sincere follower of Christ and sincerely fail to be kind. Look at the advice of Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.

Notice that kindness, like all the characteristics listed there, is a choice. We must choose to put them on. In the morning we must clothe ourselves with kindness. When you are missing kindness in your lives, let alone in relationships, you are missing an essential part of being a child of God.

It’s like walking around with one shoe on. You have faith in Jesus with one shoe on your foot. But the other foot is missing its shoe, where kindness is supposed to be. What happens when you only wear one shoe? You walk funny.

What else? People begin to wonder if you’re hurt? Does your shoe not fit? Are you just dumb? Faith without kindness is just like that. It hinders your walk with God and it makes people wonder about the validity of your faith. We must choose, each day, to put on kindness.

What, exactly, is kindness? I think the best way to see it is in a story rather than merely by definition. But we can boil it down to this understanding:

1. Kindness is love in action. - It is essential to faith, so much so that Jesus elevated it to a prominent position in one of the most famous parables he ever told.

Luke 10:25-29 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, `Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Right!” Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?”

This religious expert had all the head knowledge about God that a person could hope for.

He agreed with loving God, but he had some trouble with the neighbor part. He was like most of us. It’s relatively easy to respond to an invitation or pray a prayer to trust in Christ.

It’s sometimes hard to express that love to others through our actions. Jesus says, in no uncertain terms, that love for God expresses itself in kindness toward other people.

I heard the story of a lady named Mamie Adams. She always went to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees there were friendly. She went there to buy stamps just before Christmas one year and the lines were particularly long.

Someone pointed out that there was no need to wait in line because there was a stamp machine in the lobby. "I know," said Mamie, 'but the machine won't ask me about my arthritis.

You know as well as iI do that waiting in line goes against our American culture. However, she would rather wait in line to experience someone's kindness.

2. Kindness notices needs. - Luke 10:30 Jesus replied with an illustration: "A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.”

This is a man in need. He been robbed and beaten and there he is lying beside the road. What are you going to do about it? That’s the key to kindness. A truly kind person will find a need and fill it. Find a hurt and heal it.

The kind person is able to put aside their own desires and look out for others. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you recognize that God met your need not only for food, shelter, clothing and other material things, but He knew your need for forgiveness.

God knew that you could never be good enough for him, so he sent his only Son to live a perfectly sinless life for you. He died on the cross paying the debt that you owe, but could never repay.

God sought you and gave this life-changing "Good News" in a way you could understand and respond to it. The expectation is that we who have received God’s love reach out to love other people.

Even having this knowledge, it can still be difficult. The author of Philippians had to remind good church folks of this: Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

It’s really a matter of selfishness vs. selflessness. To be kind we must focus on the needs of the other and put our own aside. More and more I find that we opt for self rather than kindness. There’s a reason for this. The cards are stacked against us in our culture.

3. Busyness is the enemy of kindness. - In our culture we think, busyness is next to godliness. The reality is that busyness is the death of kindness. Here’s how that looks in the story: Luke 10:31-3231 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

Here are two religious guys who see the need. Don’t imagine that these were heartless, cruel people. In their own towns, they probably had reputations as generous and godly people. They probably gave to the Salvation Army at Christmas. Their lives were just too busy and important to help this man in need.

They had their religious duty to take care of at the church. Surely the worship service was more important than the needs of the man on the side of the road.

Besides, if they touched him they’d be ceremonially unclean and unable to even enter the Temple until a period of cleansing. They were too busy with their religious activities to be kind.

Let’s not be too quick to judge them for it. How many of us are in such a hurry to get to work, that we won’t stop to help a stranded motorist? I know the excuses. I’ve used them before.

At the very least we can offer them our phone to call for help. How many of us are so busy making a living that we won’t get involved in service at church or civic groups?

We all have talents and abilities that could meet the needs of other people. We could be kind, but we’re just too busy. Maybe I’m asking too much of you.

How many of us are so busy that we don’t give our children the time and energy they need from us? How many of us are so busy that we ignore the needs of our spouses?

There are a zillion ways to be kind to find a need and fill it. Find a hurt and heal it. But if we’re too busy because we’re so self-absorbed we’ll never follow through.

Don’t make the excuse that it’s not your fault and you can’t help it. Last time I checked slavery was abolished in the U. S.. You’re only a slave to your schedule if you choose to be.

4. Kindness elicits empathy. - Luke 10:3333 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. The Samaritan came along and felt compassion for the beaten and bleeding man.

He probably imagined what it would like if he or someone he loved were there on the side of the road. That’s empathy. It’s the ability to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Kindness and empathy go hand in hand.

Jay Kesler, president of Taylor University, told about a state trooper who was awarded an "Outstanding Trooper" award. Kesler, who attended the same church as the trooper, said to him, "The governor said that in 15 years as a trooper, you haven’t once roughed up a drunk or used excessive force on anyone. How can you be a state trooper for 15 years, dealing with the kind of stuff you deal with, and have that happen?"

"Well, I guess two things," the trooper responded. "First, if I am called to break up a fight at a tavern, I never say to myself, there’s a drunk.

I always say to myself, there’s a man, someone’s husband, someone’s son, someone’s neighbor who got drunk. So I always try to think of him as a man, not a crime.

The Bible says that “a soft answer turns away wrath.” So whenever I walk up to the window of an automobile, I always speak a little lower than the person I’m speaking to."

As Christians, we’re expected to act on our empathy with kindness. If the Holy Spirit lives in you, you’ll feel compassion toward those in need Act on what you feel.

Romans 12:15 When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Get close enough to other people to feel their pain and experience their joy.

5. Kindness pays the price. - Luke 10:34-35 Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.

The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’” Putting on kindness costs you.

It may be in little ways, but it is going to cost us something: our time, our convenience, our labor, our money, our strength: Visiting the sick, elderly, lonely; calling the discouraged; doing favors; running errands; bearing burdens; sharing joys and sorrows; encouraging the down-hearted; giving to the needy; befriending the friendless.

As Philip Keller expresses in his book, it costs something to care. "There is suffering involved. It is the kind physician who lances the boil, drains off the poison, cleanses the wound, and so restores the patient."

The writer of Proverbs puts it eloquently: Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Put on kindness. Find a need and fill it. Find a hurt and heal it. Be willing to pay the price of love.

6. Kindness seizes every opportunity. - Luke 10:36-37 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

The advice is so simple that it’s almost insulting. Love God by loving people by your actions. God’s desire is that we live out his love through our kindness.

Who’s your neighbor? A neighbor is the person nearest to you. Everyone, other than you, is your neighbor. Put on kindness with every neighbor whether they live in the same house or across the street or across the country or around the world in our global community.

So What? What do I do about this message? Begin by practicing kindness.

Galatians 6:10 Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters.

If you’ll make the conscious choice and effort to put on kindness, in just a matter of time it will be a natural outflow of your inner being.

During the early days of the church Greek was the international language. The Romans, when speaking of those early followers of Jesus often confused the word “christos” which means “Christ” with “chrestos,” Greek for “kindness.”

As you live out your faith, see how many people you can confuse this week. Find a need and fill it. Find a hurt and heal it.

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