The Act of Kindness
Old Testament Reading- Leviticus 19:33-34
New Testament Reading- Matthew 5:43-48
By Henry J. Rafferty CP -May 29, 2022
A reading from the Gospel of Luke 18:18-27, “A certain ruler asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
The rich man was in error when he asked Jesus about eternal life, as he asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ answer is twofold. First Jesus asks him if he has remembered and observed the commandments, to which he tells Him that he as followed them. Jesus though, having abilities that we do not possess, knew that the man lacked one thing, the ability to love something more than his money. When Jesus tells him that it is extremely difficult for a rich person to reach heaven, He is telling him that the man’s reliance on his own wealth is too great for him to let go and follow God. In this instance we are talking about money, but it could be any number of other things. Material possessions, fame, vanity, power, are all reasons that may limit your ability to let go and allow God to guide you.
Let’s look at how to reach eternal life. To be near to God is not as easy as one might think. God is perfect and pure; sin may not be near Him. So, to be where God is, you must be without sin, which was lost to humanity when our first parents sinned in the garden. Next God gave to his people the Ten Commandments as a set of rules to follow, and He gave them the sacrificial system to make atonement for their sins, all the while promising a savior that would save them all. Eventually the Savior came, Jesus, who was without sin and who allowed Himself to be put to death, as an atonement for the sins of all who believe. Through the death of Jesus, we are saved by the grace of God who accepts Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for our sins. Jesus is called the second Adam, because life came through the first Adam, but eternal life came through the second Adam, Jesus. His sacrifice, joined with our choice to believe in Him, who He really is, and what He did for us, erases the death sentence of original sin. Many Christians though believe that is it, but the answer is not quite that simple.
There are true and false Christians.
Faith and works, the age-old question. Some say faith alone will save you, some say faith and works will save you, I believe the answer to both questions is ‘yes’. Yes, faith alone will save you, like the criminal who died on the cross next to Jesus. This man confessed that he was a sinner but asked if Jesus would remember him when He came into His kingdom. Jesus told him, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.” The man had faith, but no time for works, and he was a criminal to boot, but Jesus tells him he is saved and allowed to enter eternal life. Another person does all manner of ‘good’ deeds, yet when asked if they believe that Jesus made atonement for their sins, they scoff at it and say, “What a bunch of mumbo jumbo, I don’t believe that stuff.” Well, this person doesn’t realize it, but they will stand before God without Jesus as their advocate, personally, I don’t like their odds. Still another person claims they are a Christian, they say that Jesus is the Son of God, and they say they believe that through their faith they will be saved, case closed; but this person is the rottenest person you could ever lay your eyes on. They cheat on their spouse, they cheat other people, they never have a nice word to say about or to anyone, they don’t feel it necessary to know anything about the Word of God in the Bible, they couldn’t care less about God’s Church, in fact they couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves. I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of people like this who think they are saved by their faith, but I am not sure Jesus will vouch for them either. There are true and false Christians. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Then who can be saved? Remember what Jesus told us when He was talking about the rich man, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” God’s grace makes all things possible, but we have a choice to make. Yes, we must believe in Jesus the Messiah, but we must also walk the walk and talk the talk. Jesus tells us that those who love Him will follow Him and listen to His commands, but those who don’t will do what they want and become their own gods.
Becoming a disciple of Christ takes work, it is completely free, but it requires work on your part. You must become like Christ. How, some may say. Start by reading the instructions
and learning. It is how we do almost everything in life. We read about it, we are taught about it, and we are shown it, then we have the power to do it. With time and experience we become better and better at what we are doing. Being a Christian is no different, we read the instruction manual, the Bible. We learn through Bible studies and other opportunities made possible by the Church. We are shown it by being around other disciples, going to worship and other Church functions. The longer we do it and the more we get involved, learning, and helping others, the better we become at it. Soon, we are changed, and more like Christ all
Always, always exercise the act of kindness in your life. Notice that I said exercise, because kindness is something you do, it is a verb, an action word. We must learn to be kind to others if we want to really claim to be a Christian. Jesus was kind to people. He was kind to lepers, and children, to the poor, to the rich too. I want to read to you about Jesus’ kindness in Matthew 25:31-46, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger, and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
"Always, always exercise the act of kindness in your life. Notice that I said exercise, because kindness is something you do, it is a verb, an action word." ~ Pastor Henry Rafferty
The people that were saved in Jesus’ illustration were kind, period. Their acts were kind towards others and Jesus recognizes their kind hearts. When we exercise our acts of kindness our hearts become full of light and love, the things of God, but if we only ever do for ourselves, our hearts become filled with pride and hatred, the things of the evil one.
Make the choice today, do you want to be separated by Jesus on His right or His left? Make the choice to follow your faith by exercising your acts of kindness and making the world a better place because you were in it. Tell a stranger hello, or have a nice day, and mean it. Treat people with respect and never like they are lower than you. Remember the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Take time to visit others, ask someone older than you about their life, and be patient with children, remembering what it was like when you were that age, how we treat others is a huge reflection on ourselves. Invite people to Church, so that they too will know the joy you have found.
Today, I leave you with the words from Paul in his letter to the Colossians 3:12-13, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.