BLOCKS OF CHARACTER: BROTHERLY KINDNESS!"
and preached by David P. Nolte
2 PETER 1:5-11
An old man sat in the cramped paper stand on a cold, blustery day
feeling alone and depressed. Folk
came and bought papers with scarcely a word. Then a hand touched his
and a warm voice greeted
him, "Hello, Jake! I thought you might like a cup of coffee -- here it
is just the way you like it -- hot
and black!" It was Marge, one of his customers. He thanked her and she
went on her way not
realizing that in the little paper stand the sun shone brightly and the
day was warmed by her little act
of kindness. Now, we have been considering Building Blocks of
Character: diligence, faith,
goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and Godliness. All
vital and needed! But we might
possess them all and be aloof, exclusive, self-righteous and superior.
We need to add brotherly
kindness to moderate and temper us; to bring us down to earth and make
us accessible. How can we
demonstrate brotherly kindness day by day?
KINDNESS IS SEEN IN ATTENTION TO OTHERS:
- I don't mean pay attention to others like:
- Teenage boys eyeing a sweet young thing and exclaiming,
"Check it out!"
- The snoop in The Dalles spying on her neighbor, who was her
keeping track of his comings and goings and reporting him to the elders
him into trouble when she thought he was home too much.
- It means being benevolently and kindly aware of, and attentive
to, your neighbor, your
family and even the person in the pew next to you. It means being
attentive to their:
- Emotional needs: their fears, their wounded spirit, their
their loneliness and discouragement.
- Physical needs: the need for food, clothing, home repairs,
even a break from the children.
- Spiritual needs: some are guilt ridden, many are without
people are hopeless and desolate.
- Three major difficulties hinder us here:
- We often pull the shades or put on the blinders so we don't
see! We are like Schultz in "Hogan's Heroes" who was not a Nazi
but was not pro prisoner, either. When they pulled their
shenanigans, he'd close his eyes and say, "I see nothing! I
hear nothing! I know nothing!" As if that would absolve him
of responsibility. We think if we don't see or hear or know, we
can't be held accountable to help.
- We focus on self rather than on the other in spite of Paul's
admonition to be
observant of the needs of others, considering them as more important
ourselves. This makes our problems more severe than the problems
of others. Someone said, "The difference between major and minor
surgery is that it is mamor when it happens to me and it's minor when
it happens to you."
- We adopt the Cain perspective and shun responsibility: We
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Christians must change that to, "I am
my brother's keeper!"
- We could learn a lesson about attention to others from an
encounter in the market
place. A shopper was checking out at the market, and to her horror and
discovered that she was just $4.00 short! They wouldn't take a credit
card, and she
had left her check book home. As she pondered which items to eliminate,
behind her caught the clerk's eye and indicated that he would
compensate for the lack. He paid the extra $4.00. How relieved the lady
was. The man refused to give her his
name, so she went home and wrote a letter to the editor: "To the kind
helped me at the market when I was $4.00 short, thank you so much.
Since I don't
know who you are, I can't repay you, but I have donated $4.00 to the
Cancer Society - thank you again."
You see, brotherly kindness is seen in attention to others.
SEEN IN IDENTIFICATION WITH OTHERS:
- Now, it's one thing to notice others needs and another to
involve and identify with them!
- To identify with others means:
- Recognizing their problem as ours: not that we can solve them
all, meet every
need, pay every bill, soothe every hurt -- but we can avoid saying,
problem! Better them than me!"
- Bearing one another's burdens: share your loaf with them in
their hunger; sit
with them in grief; occupy the seat of pain with them.
- Following Paul's admonitions: Romans 12:15, 16, 20 (NLT)
are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow.
harmony with each other. Don't try to act important, but enjoy the
of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all! ... Instead, do
Scriptures say: 'If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are
them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have
- You need no degree in theology, philosophy, psychology, or
behavioral sciences to
identify with other people -- you just need a heart to care, a hand to
help, a voice to
say, "I love you! I care what happens to you! I am with you! We'll get
- It's like the story of a young boy who was riding his bicycle
when he saw a little
neighbor girl having difficulty with hers. He stopped and noted that
the chain had
come off. He tried his hardest to put that chain back on, but to no
avail. He said, "I
know! Come on! Let's push your bike to my house. My dad can fix this!"
might wonder why a young boy would bother with a little girl,
especially when he was
at the "girls are icky" age. But you see, just the week before, his
chain had come off
his bike, and he knew how maddening that was. He identified with her in
her plight. That's sort of like brotherly kindness.
Brotherly kindness is seen in attention to others and in
identification with them, as well.
- BROTHERLY KINDNESS IS
CONSIDERATION OF OTHERS:
- If we are aware of need and get involved in it we will have
better understanding of
what's happening in other people's lives. The more we understand the
more we will
take things into consideration.
- We need to consider such things as:
- Their weaknesses: they are not necessarily hypocrites when we
inconsistencies in their lives. Maybe they are just honest failures
- Their situation: their background, home life, opportunities,
temptations. Maybe we'd do worse under the same circumstances!
- Their value to God: God is no respecter of persons; they
matter to Him as
much as we do!
- Understanding others in this way will eliminate a tendency to:
- Be harshly critical of their performance or lack of it.
- Be overly demanding and expect the unrealistic of others.
- Be at odds with spouse, children, neighbors, fellow
- The poem stresses the need for considering others: "If I had
known the pain you felt, And all the grief you knew, I would have
soothed your hurt, And sought to comfort you. If I had known how dark
How fear drove sleep away, I would have brought you God's sweet light,
To help you
through til day. If I had known your loneliness, If I had only known, I
been a friend to you, You'd not have been alone. But now I know, I
love I should have shown. I'll do now as I should have done If I had
only known." If we are attentive and identified and consider
others, we'll never have to say, "If I had only known!"
Paul hits the nail on the head in the matter of brotherly kindness:
Ephesians 4:31-5:2: "Get rid of all
bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types
of malicious behavior. Instead,
be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as
God through Christ has forgiven
you. Follow God's example in everything you do, because you are His
dear children. Live a life filled
with love for others, following the example of Christ, Who loved you
and gave Himself as a sacrifice
to take away your sins." We have been kindly treated by God, what a
small thing it is for us to treat
others kindly. Jesus was kindness embodied! Nobody has ever been so
patient with failure, so gentle
with the weak, so forgiving to the sinful, so understanding to the
downtrodden as He! He wants to
live His life through us so others can experience His love, too! Think
of this: you might be the only
experience of kindness someone will have -- but Jesus cannot show His
kindness through us until we
are available, yielded, surrendered to Him! It can't happen until He
changes our hearts. Brotherly
kindness isn't something we put on, it's something He puts in - and the
it comes out to bless others. But when that takes place you are
blessed, your family is blessed, and others around you, touched
by your brotherly kindness are blessed, too.
Poem by David Nolte
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