Micah 6, Part II: Love Kindness
Rev. Tom Hagood, November 16, 2014
Who can remember last week’s word . . . to do justice?
To do justice . . .to do mishpat!
This week we’re going to learn another Hebrew word . .
. a word just as powerful as Mishpat
and a word that is also well known
throughout the Hebrew scriptures . . . Hesed . .
. Hesed . . . a word that actually has several meanings .
. . kindness . . . goodness . . . mercy . . . faithfulness . . .
the prophet Micah is compelling God’s people
to love Hesed . . .
to love kindness with all of their hearts.
But the Hesed used by Micah doesn’t mean
just any kind of kindness . . . or goodness or mercy. No . . .
it’s meaning has so much more depth and meaning.
Think about what the prophet is saying . . .
God isn’t telling us to BE kind . . .
God is telling us to LOVE kindness . . .
did you hear the difference . . . we are to love kindness.
God isn’t just telling us to go out and do good deeds . . . though that’s ok . . .
God is telling us to make kindness
the heart of soul of our very being.
You see . . . Micah’s world didn’t . . .
and our world doesn’t . . . love kindness.
I wish it did.
No . . . our world loves other things . . .
our world lives by the old eye for an eye rule . . .
our world likes to get even with someone . . .
or extract revenge . . .
or, as Kevin Costner once proclaimed
as Elliott Ness in The Untouchables . . .
“if they shoot one of us we shoot three of them!” That was Micah’s world.
Sadly . . . that’s our world, too.
But hesed goes against the grain of the world . . .
against the culture of revenge . . .
and it even goes far beyond
just helping a little old lady across the street . . .
though that’s ok, too.
To love hesed . . . to love kindness is so much more . . .
it’s what I call an inconvenient kindness.
Let me give you an example.
Most of us do acts of kindness all the time . . .
often without even thinking about them.
Most of them are convenient acts of kindness . . .
they really don’t require much effort . . .
like holding the door open for someone . . .
letting someone into your lane of traffic . . .
picking up some groceries for a sick friend . . .
visiting a lonely person . . .
saying a kind word to the grocery store clerk . . .
helping a friend at school pick up some papers
that she dropped . . .
those are all acts of kindness . . .
they make you feel good about yourself
and for just a moment you connect
with another person who is hopefully appreciative . . . and in that moment . . .
the world really is a little better . . .
and thank God for each and every one of them.
But hesed goes far beyond
those kind of acts of kindness.
An inconvenient act of kindness requires so much more
effort on our part . . . and it can even go against our natural instincts.
The best way I’ve ever heard hesed described
is like this . . .
“To give someone a ride when they have no car
is a kindness . . .
to forgive them for stealing your car,
and then offer them a job comes closer to hesed.” (Rev. Catherine E. Taylor, Blacksburg Presbyterian Church)
Now that’s what I call an inconvenient act of kindness.
It goes totally against
what I would normally want to do . . .
like throwing them in jail!
But if we are to truly love kindness
as God tells us to do . . .
then we have to be willing to overcome our need
for revenge and hate and replace it
with a loving act . . . and a loving heart . . .
and that is just so hard to do.
One writer describes hesed with these words . . .
“Hesed is when you are in big trouble
and something really bad
is going to happen to you . . .
and there is one person or group or institution
that can help you
and they really have no reason to go out of their way
to help you . . . but they do.
That is to be a recipient of hesed.”
And, he continues . . .
“When there is somebody who needs
your help or mine or ours,
and their life will be much worse
if they don’t get our help
and we have no particular reason to help them,
but we do . . . that is hesed.
That is to bestow hesed.” (Rev. Dean Snyder, www.foundryumc.org)
God tells us to love kindness . . .
even if it’s inconvenient.
Hesed . . . Inconvenient kindness . . .
is to reach out with genuine compassion and love
to someone in desperate trouble
who once hurt you so deeply
you wished they were dead.
Hesed is to find the words to say
“I forgive you and I’m here for you”
to a friend who once betrayed you.
Hesed is to come home to the dying parent
who once abused you
and comfort them in your arms.
So if we look at Hesed
as an inconvenient act of kindness . . .
what it really means is putting aside
your feelings of judgment and revenge
and just allowing the Spirit of God
to lead you into an act of pure grace
that you could never have done yourself.
That’s because it’s inconvenient
to be a disciple of Jesus Christ . . .
because Christ is always putting
the wrong people in front of us . . .
and telling us to just love them . . .
no matter they may have done to you . . .
or said to you . . .
we are called . . . to just love them.
Do you think loving kindness can change the world?
Well guess what. It already has.
I seem to remember someone
who continued to show kindness to others . . .
even to the point of pure exhaustion.
I remember when he tried to go
to the other side of the lake to be alone and pray,
but he still reached out with kindness . .
serving those who came to him.
I remember when he cried at the death
of his dear friend,
yet even in his grief he still served and loved
with such kindness . . .
I remember when he was in pure agony . . .
and he still showed kindness
to those who had come to lead him away.
And I remember the last thing he did . . .
while nailed to a cross . . .
was to reach out with kind words . . .
to offer forgiveness.
I didn’t deserve his kindness.
But he gave his life for me anyway.
Jesus Christ . . . he loved kindness . . . he lived hesed.
We are called to do the same . . .
as inconvenient as it may be.
(people go to prayer station)
. . . love kindness . . .
we are the church.
We are called to love kindness.
Considering how God created you special
and gave you unique gifts,
how is God calling you to love, respond and participate
in the life of Columbia Presbyterian Church?
Take a puzzle piece and write or draw on it how God is calling you
to love kindness in this world.
Connect your puzzle piece to the other pieces
as a sign that in Christ we are connect in Christ’s love . . .
together connected as sisters and brothers in Christ,
we are the church.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.