Title
Love Comes in A Small Box
Date
February 2, 2020
Authors
David Eiffert
Topics
Bible References
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Love Comes in A Small Box

If you know me, you know I love diving DEEP into theology and learning new things. I am a teacher to my core. But seeing how this is super bowl Sunday, I am not wanting to complicate anything. All I'm hoping to do today is to encourage you in something that is fundamental to the Christian faith. And that's doing small acts with great love.

I know a lot of Christians that feel like their life is less important than somebody else's because they don't have opportunities to do these huge, giant, acts of love.

And they think "I just work a regular job" or "I'm just a stay at home parent"

I'll never:

  • Devote my life to setting up orphanages in third world countries.
  • Give millions of dollars to charities
  • Or even speak to lots of people like a pastor.

But as I hope to show you, often times the greatest love comes in the smallest boxes.

Story - Helping Hannah w/Gas

Helping Hannah with Gas - guy gives me the finger and puts his car in reverse as if to threaten running over me.

Doing something with great love doesn't always get you a medal. In fact often times people hardly even notice. Or maybe try to run you over.

We're drawn to the big and the extravagant. But love, usually comes in a small box.

We've been programmed to think that bigger is always better.

  • Twitter followers
  • Likes on Facebook or Instagram
  • Politicians - Politicians who work so incredibly hard at projecting just the right image.

Spending so much time trying to manage what people THINK of us.

You post on Facebook 'My heart goes out to everyone in Australlia.' - Okkkaaayyy. Is that in any way HELPING the people on Australia? No. It's making YOU look a certain way.

The greatest acts of Love usually go mostly unnoticed.

Not always, but usually.

Think about the single mom working two jobs to buy diapers for her 2 small children.

No one is gonna give that woman the respect she deserves.

But she's not doing it for the notoriety. She's doing it because she loves her kids.

Superbowl - Athletes Can I be real? We are about to go and collectively as a nation, idolize these athletes, some of which are, can I be frank, despicable human beings. Why? "Uhhh… Cuz they can catch good."

Herb and Dotsie just celebrated 63 years of marriage. That's heroic. The average marriage in the United States lasts 8 years. In Hollywood I think it's like 14 minutes.

What I'm hoping to get at is this:

It's not through great acts that we change the world, but small acts done with great love.

“We can do no great things - only small things with great love.” (Mother Teresa)

And so even today, you have the opportunity to make a positive difference in this world. Not through huge acts of service, but through small acts of love.

To illustrate this, I have a couple video clips for you. And as you watch this, I want you to notice: This is not a great act, it's a small act done in great love.

(Haircut Clip)

Here's what I love about that. Giving a homeless person a haircut is not something that the world will really appreciate. But that man is changing peoples lives while the majority of the world just sits around waiting for permission.

Luke 10 - The Good Samaritan

In Luke 10, we see an interaction that Jesus has with a religious ruler who is trying to outwit him.

Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. (Trick Jesus / trap w/ logic.) “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)

Essentially this is a guy who’s wanting to trick Jesus and trap Jesus with a logic.

I want you to imagine someone coming up and asking YOU this question. “David, what must I do to get eternal life?”

Well as Jesus often does, he responds to the question with another question:

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26)

He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)

Good answer! I think in a lot of ways, this is a pretty good answer. I mean this is an expert of the law, so he knows the Old Testament, and he’s able to boil down to the Old Testament law to be about loving God and loving people. Which is actually pretty good!!!

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:28)

Jesus essentially says: “Bingo. You’ve got it."

Now here’s where things really take a turn :

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)

In other words: Who exactly do I need to love?

This is classic legalism. - Getting all hung up on the technicalities.

“Can you give me a list of my neighbors? So when I see them I’ll know I have to love those people.” “And so I can also know the non-neighbors, so I don’t have to help them.”

As funny as it sounds, I think we do this all the time, that Jesus says love your enemies and we think “Well clearly he doesn’t mean those people." - Always looking for loopholes and exceptions instead of just doing the obvious thing which is loving and serving everybody no matter what.

In reply Jesus said: (Luke 10:30a)

Jesus responds to this 'who is my neighbor' question with a parable - the parable you probably know as the parable of the good samaritan.

It's difficult to describe just how hostile the jews and the samaritans were towards each other.

People think that it's kind of a racism thing happening here. And that's at least half true.

Essentially what you have is when the jewish people were in captivity, there were men and women who married and had kids with their captors and that was the beginning of the samaritans.

So they could be thought of a half-breeds. Mud-bloods in Harry Potter talk.

The samaritans were a people who were related to the jews but with a different ethnicity. Their faith had come out of the jewish faith, but then in morphed and kinda changed into something else.

These were people who had a different ethnicity and a different religion.

Deep hostility. Possibly similar to Israelis & Palestinians.

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. (Luke 10:30)

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31)

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:32)

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. (Luke 10:33)

He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. (Luke 10:34)

The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10:35)

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36)

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

Break it down:

So let’s break it down:

The Setup

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. (Luke 10:30)

17 mile road - Jerusalem to Jericho. - (Map)

So in order to maybe help you understand this, there’s a 17 mile road from Jerusalem to Jericho. You can actually go walk (or preferably drive it)

And in Jesus’s day, it was a notoriously dangerous place. It’s named “The Way of Blood"

It’s full of places to hide.

In fact, there’s writings that describe it as the most dangerous road in the middle east.

This isn’t only in Jesus’s day, this road being a super dangerous place continues into the 18th and 19th centuries. So it's not at all surprising that Jesus tells a story of a man who was attacked and nearly killed on this road.

Scene 1

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31)

So the priest sees a man who’s nearly dead on the side of the road.

So the assumption here is that this priest lives in Jericho and goes everyday to Jerusalem to perform his priestly duties. And is likely heading back home.

And I think it’s probably fair to give this man a little benefit of the doubt. This appears to be a hard working man. We can assume he’s riding a donkey, and we can assume that he’s probably a pretty devout priest, riding on a donkey 17 miles each way to do his work.

And keep in mind what the job of a priest during this time was. Priestly duties include helping the poor, caring for the widow and the orphan. So this man, likely has spent all day doing good. And is on his way home.

I mean, have you guys ever spent a long day at work, and you just want to get home already?

So again, I don’t think this is a bad guy, and I think that’s important. Because if you paint this priest as a just a horrible villain who’s saying ‘Ewww gross…’ Then you won’t be able to see yourself in him.

Which is the point here.

Jesus is intending for you to see yourself in this priest, who has done ENOUGH good for the day already.

Scene 2

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:32)

So this Levite was like a priest, but not as high level.

This is how I picture this going down: The Levite sees the priest up ahead and he sees the priest, the head hauncho passed the man by so he thinks “Well, if this pillar of our faith is passing him by, certainly I should do the same thing.”

I hope you can see yourself in that too.

That you read the teachings of Jesus but you let these public figures that claim to be Christians be your moral compass.

Tricky: Politicians claim - Christians.

This gets especially tricky when politicians claim to be Christians. Where they are an elected official, and so we honor them and respect them in that position, but they are in absolutely no way qualified to be someone who explains or exemplifies how to be a Christian for us.

He sees his leader pass the man by, so he passes the man by as well.

Scene 3

(The Twist)

Controversial enough : Samaritan hurt / jew helps.

Let me say this: The story would still be controversial if it was a samaritan who gets nearly killed and a jew helps him. That would be controversial enough, but less so because at least the hero of the story is a jew.

But it is so much worse than that.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity (same word translated compassion) on him. (Luke 10:33)

He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. (Luke 10:34)

The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10:35)

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36)

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

So we see this man who is reaching across the lines of hospitality to show love to even his worst enemy.

So interesting : This is one of the few times in the parables of Jesus where Jesus gives this really clear instruction: Go and do likewise.

So I've got 3 super quick little pieces of advice that you can implement this week to show great Love in small ways.

1. Allow yourself to be inconvenienced

Funerals - Never Convenient

Over the last 5 years of so, it has been my unique honor to do the majority of the funerals at the church. And with that comes caring for grieving families during some of their most vulnerable moments in life.

Can I tell you something I've learned: Dealing with hurting people is never convenient. Never.

People aren't rushed to emergency surgery at times that are convenient for me.

If you wait till it's convenient to help people, it will never happen.

Remember our story of the Good Samaritan, the first two people, the priest and the levite failed to help the man precisely because it was inconvenient.

Good Samaritan Experiment

In 1970 at Princeton theological seminary they did an experiment to replicate the parable of the good Samaritan.

Keep in mind, that they were at seminary, testing people who were preparing to enter the ministry. So they set up the experiment outside. Essentially what the test was : they sat a man up at the doorway who was keeled over in pain and as people would pass by he would let out of painful groan, implying he needed help. And the test was to see which of these “pastors in training” would stop and which wouldn't.

And they set up one variable, all of the students that were a part of the test were told that they had to come into this building to give a talk.

  • The first group they gave him plenty of time so that they weren't rushed to get into the room.
  • The second group were told at the last minute so they were in a rush to get over there.

And I bet you can guess the results. The people that believed they had plenty of time were much more likely to stop and help than the people who thought they were late. They were something like 12 times more likely to stop.

I wonder how many of us end up NOT helping, simply because helping at this particular moment would be inconvenient?

Mark 10:46-49

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. (Mark 10:46)

When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47)

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48)

Jesus stopped.” (Mark 10:49)

The Good Samaritan stopped, Jesus stopped, will we stop?

There's this blog that I follow and they were talking about this Good Samaritan study and one of the readers posted a comment on the article and I thought it was amazing:

I heard of this study many years ago and was just telling a friend about it yesterday. I was reminded of it when I headed out in a snowstorm for my graduate class on death, dying, and bereavement. My neighbor, an elderly Cambodian man with schizophrenia and terminal cancer, was walking to the bank and asked if he could accompany me.

I knew it would make me late for class and keep me out longer in the storm, but I also realized that it was a good thing to do. We had a lovely chat and he sweetly bowed to me as we parted. I was late for class.

The next day he died of a heart attack while receiving his chemotherapy treatment. I am grateful for our walk together.

Jesus will make you late. Will you stop anyway?

2. See a need and fill it

So think of the man giving haircuts to the homeless. He sees a need, and he fills it.

So what is a need you see in your city? Or your community? Or your church? Or your family?

Stop waiting for permission and just take the initiative, and do something awesome.

3. Find creative ways to use your gifts and talents to help other people

(Front Lawn Clip)

My dad making cookies

An obvious example of this to me is my dad making cookies. If you've never had my dads cookies, you've really missed out.

Growing up my dad owned a drywall business and wasn't much of a baker, but now as a grandpa he's become a star-baker making some of the best cookies in town.

Now making cookies, that's a pretty 'unremarkable' thing in a sense, but what's amazing is how my dad has allowed God to use his cookie making to minister to people.

He takes cookies to people in the hospital, he takes cookies to people who are stuck at home with an illness, he takes cookies to homeless folks that he's befriended. I mean, that's amazing.

He has a cookie ministry.

That's taking a very normal, residential talent and offering love in a small box (of cookies in his case).

Closing

Stop waiting for some huge opportunity, and start doing small things with great love.

You don’t need anyone’s permission

Just get started

By caring for the needy, we care for Jesus.

For years at Outlet, we would end every week in the prayer for the poor: That when we care for the hurting, we care for Jesus himself.

And that’s not something I made up, we see this over and over in scripture that how we care for the less fortunate, ultimately is how you treat Jesus himself.

“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. (Matthew 25:34)

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, (Matthew 25:35)

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.’ (Matthew 25:36)

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? (Matthew 25:37)

When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? (Matthew 25:38)

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ (Matthew 25:39)

“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.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3)

Time - Dead There will be time - you're dead. (I hate to break it to you)

And believe me when I tell you this: You will want to be remembered not for preaching the best sermons, or becoming the CEO of a big company. You will want to be remembered for doing small acts with great love.

The time when your boss didn't deserve your forgiveness, but you forgave him anyway.

The time when you bought the homeless man lunch even though he wreaked of alcohol.

All the times you sacrificed for your children even when they were thankless little punks.

Allowing Jesus to mentor us in the way of great love. That's how, with God's help, we change the world.

All of the Christian life is simply a response to the way Jesus treats you. You see how Jesus loves and gives and you endeavor to do the same.

(Pray)