Sermon Presented on 06-22-13


        As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth.  Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same.  However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

       Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.  In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. 

       It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers. 

       At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last.  However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

       Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh.  He does his work neatly and has good manners ... he is a joy to be around." 

        His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle." 

       His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken." 

       Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school.  He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

       By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself.  She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's.  His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.  Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.  Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.  But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.  Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thomson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."  After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

       On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.  Instead, she began to teach children.  Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy.  As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets."

       A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. 

       Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy.  He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. 

       Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors.  He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

       Then four more years passed and yet another letter came.  This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further.  The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had.  But now his name was a little longer.  The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD . 

       The story does not end there.  You see, there was yet another letter that spring.  Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married.  He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. 

       Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.  And guess what?  She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.  Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. 

       They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me.  Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."

       Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back.  She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong.  You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference.  I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

       While this story has been presented as a true story by many for many years, including high ranking Christian ministers such as D. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral, it is a fictional story. It was penned by Elizabeth Silance Ballard in 1974 and printed that year in HomeLife magazine, a Baptist family publication.  However, the fact it is fiction does not take away from its message. Jesus often used parables to get a point across.  These parables were fictional stories told to get a message across about a matter of importance. The purpose of the story I just told is to deliver a massage about an important matter.  It is the matter of kindness.


       Today we will consider the fifth fruit of the Spirit in Paul’s list found in Galatians 5. 

     Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol.

       As can be seen from the story I shared with you, an act of kindness can change a person’s life.  Not only the life of the person the kindness is directed toward but it can change the life of the provider of the kindness as well as we see in the case of the teacher Mrs. Thompson. While this is a fictional story, there are many examples in real life where an expression of kindness is seen to bring about a positive result in the lives of those involved.

       Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit that flows from love. As we have discussed in the past, the agape love Paul speaks of as a fruit of the Spirit is a very active and outgoing form of love that is heavy on deeds.  It is a love that shows itself to always be concerned for the welfare of others regardless of who they are, how they behave or what circumstances they may find themselves in.  Kindness is one of the primary ways we can express love.  The Scriptures make it clear that love is not something we put in a bottle and tightly screw down the cap.  Love is to be active and demonstrative.  It is to be expressed.  Kindness is a major way we express love.

        1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

       The teacher in the story I shared with you learned to express love by showing kindness to the young boy in her class.  Her act of kindness and her continuing kindness toward this student changed his life.  It also changed the teacher’s life.  I am sure this teacher never again formed an opinion about someone based only on outward appearance.  As the teacher said, “On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.  Instead, she began to teach children.”   She began to take personal interest in her students and kindly work with them to facilitate their maximum potential. 

       Kindness can be shown in many ways.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of doing the right thing at the right time.  We are all familiar with what happened to king Saul of Israel.  He failed to heed the command of God to totally destroy the Amalekites. God removed him from office and placed David as king over Israel.  Saul was disgraced and he ended up dying in battle.  Even though Saul failed to obey God and had turned on David, David had great respect for him.  When David found out he had been killed he mourned for Saul.  When David found out that some men in Israel’s army had properly buried Saul, David saw this as a great act of kindness. 

       2 Samuel 2:4-6: Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.  When David was told that it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead to say to them, "The LORD bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. 

       Even though Saul had been disgraced and removed as King of Israel, he still deserved a proper burial.  David saw the actions of those who gave Saul a proper burial as demonstrating kindness toward Saul.  It was the right thing to do.  Kindness is seen here as simply doing the right thing regardless of the extenuating circumstances that were involved. 

       It is apparent from the Scriptures that David had a very kind heart.  After the death of Saul and the death of Saul’s son Jonathan, David wanted to ensure that members of Saul’s family were taken care of.  David asked if there was any one left of the house of Saul to whom he could show God's kindness.  It was brought to his attention that there was a crippled son of Jonathan still alive.  David had this crippled son of Jonathan found and brought to the palace.

       2 Samuel 9:7: "Don't be afraid," David said to him, "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table."

       Saul and Jonathan were dead.  David was now king of Israel.  It was common practice for a king to eliminate any competition from a previous dynasty.  Not only did David not eliminate a potential challenger to the throne, He demonstrated great kindness by providing for a member of the previous ruling family for the rest of his life and for that person to actually eat at the kings table.  Here we see kindness displayed even at the risk of potential risk for David. 

       While acts of kindness should not be done for reward or self aggrandizement, kindness is often reciprocated because people are simply moved by acts of kindness and want to express their thankfulness for such kindness. 

        As I have already stated, kindness is all about meeting the needs of others.  It is an expression of the Love of God.  Jesus showed a great deal of kindness in the many healings He performed.  He showed kindness in providing a message of hope.  As God’s agent of salvation, Jesus provided the ultimate kindness in paying the penalty for our sin.  Paul writes to the Ephesians that God has show great kindness to us by providing salvation through Christ Jesus.

       Ephesians 2:6-7: And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  

       In what appears to be a true story, a mother of three children ages 14, 12 and 3, had recently completed her college degree. The last class she had to take was Sociology.  Her last project of the term was called "Smile." The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reaction.  

       I will now be quoting directly from this student:     

       "Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son and I went out to McDonald's, one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special play time with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did.

       I did not move an inch...an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible "dirty body" smell... and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was "smiling". His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God's Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, "Good day" as he counted the few coins he had been clutching.

       The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally deficient and the blue eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears....as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, "Coffee is all Miss" because that was all they could afford. To sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something...they just wanted to be warm.

       Then I really felt it...the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me...judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue eyed gentleman's cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Thank you." I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said,"I did not do this for you...God is here working through me to give you hope." I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son.

       When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, "That is why God gave you to me honey....to give me hope." We held hands fora moment and at that time we knew that only because of the grace that we had been given that we were able to give. We are not church goers but we are believers. That day showed me the pure Light of God's sweet love.

       I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in "my project" and the instructor read it....then she looked up at me and said, "Can I share this?" I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we, as human beings and being part of God, share this need to heal people and be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald's, my husband, son, instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn....UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE."

       We are all familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan.  While Jesus gave this parable to show that our neighbor is everyone and anyone in need, the parable also demonstrates what it means to be kind.  In this story, the Samaritan went out of his way to help a person he normally would not associate with and in so doing showed great kindness.  Thus kindness is shown to be unselfish and unconditional.   

       One way to be kind is to give honor where honor is due and to be complimentary and provide recognition to those who have impacted our lives in a positive manner.

       In what appears to be another true account, a teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in high school by telling them the difference they each made. Using a process developed by Helice Bridges of Del Mar, California, she called each student to the front of the class, one at a time. First she told them how the student made a difference to her and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon imprinted with gold letter which read, "Who I Am Makes a Difference."

       Afterwards the teacher decided to do a class project to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a community. She gave each of the students three more ribbons and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom and report back to the class in about a week. One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company and honored him for helping him with his career planning.

       He gave him a blue ribbon and put it on his shirt. Then he gave him two extra ribbons, and said, "We're doing a class project on recognition, and we'd like you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person to keep this acknowledgment ceremony going. Then please report back to me and tell me what happened."

       Later that day the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down and he told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, "Well, sure." The junior executive took the blue ribbon and placed it right on his boss's jacket above his heart. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said, "Would you do me a favor? Would you take this extra ribbon and pass it on by honoring somebody else? The young boy who gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people."

       That night the boss came home to his 14-year old son and sat him down. He said, "The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I'm a creative genius. Then he put this blue ribbon that says “Who I Am Makes A Difference” on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you. I want to honor you.

       "My days are really hectic and when I come home I don't pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school and for your bedroom being a mess, but somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You're a great kid and I love you!"

       The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn't stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, "I was planning on committing suicide tomorrow, Dad, because I didn't think you loved me. Now I don't need to."

       We just never know how an act of kindness may affect someone or as in this case save a life.  Kindness is an expression of God’s Spirit.  It is an attribute that most humans express from time to time and is an attribute that should be expressed consistently by those who call themselves Christian.  To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ Jesus.  Jesus demonstrated kindness throughout His ministry and continues to demonstrate kindness as an advocate for us before the Father.

       Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

       Let's conclude today's service by together singing the Glen Campbell song, "Try a Little Kindness,"


If you see your brother standing by the road

With a heavy load, from the seeds he’s sowed

And if you see your sister falling by the way

Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way


You’ve got to try a little kindness

Yes, show a little kindness

Shine you’re light for every one to see

And if you try a little kindness

Then you’ll overlook the blindness

Of narrow-minded people

On their narrow minded streets.


Don’t walk around looking down and out

Lend a helping hand, instead of doubt

And the kindness that you show everyday

Will help someone along the way


You’ve got to try a little kindness

Yes, show a little kindness

Shine you’re light for every one to see

And if you try a little kindness

Then you’ll overlook the blindness

Of narrow-minded people

On their narrow minded streets.