Matthew  5_43      Secret Acts of Love

Rev. David Holwick  H                                   50-Day Adventure

First Baptist Church                                         Week 2

Ledgewood, New Jersey  

March 4, 2001

Matthew 5:43- 6:4


  I. We live in dangerous times.  [taken from current local newspaper]

        MONTVILLE, NJ - A masked man armed with what appeared to be a semi-

        automatic handgun failed at one robbery attempt, was beaten with

        a baseball bat in a second, and got more than $2,000 in a third

        one Wednesday night, police said.

        The man, who was wearing a gold-colored cloth with two cut-out

        eyeholes over his face, brandished the weapon at all three

        locations - Bambino's Pizzeria and D&D Liquors in the Pine Brook

        Plaza on Route 46, and Junior's Pizza and Sub on Little Falls

        Road in Fairfield.

        The man first approached an employee of Bambino's Pizzeria who

        was on a cigarette break outside the rear of the building at 8:44

        p.m., and demanded the employee's wallet, Montville Detective

        Sgt. David Peterson said.

        When the employee responded that he had no money or wallet, the

        man put the gun to the employee's head and told him to go into

        the building, Peterson said. Once inside the building, police

        said, the employee shut and locked the door behind him, keeping

        the suspect outside.

        Police said that the man then went around the corner of the strip

        mall to D&D Liquors, entered and demanded money.

        The man took the owner's black leather wallet and demanded that

        the cash register be opened. The owner bent down as if to open

        the register, Peterson said, but instead took a baseball bat from

        beneath the counter and swung at the robber.

        The owner chased the man with the bat, striking him once before

        he fled around the corner of the building. About 15 minutes

        later, the same man entered Junior's Pizzeria and Sub in

        Fairfield, again holding the gun and demanding money.

        The robber made the owner and two employees lie on the floor and

        took their wallets and money from the cash register. The total

        amount of money stolen in Fairfield was about $2,300, according

        to Fairfield Detective Sgt. Anthony Manna.

        "He's either desperate or very brazen," Manna said.


                      "Masked man attempts three robberies in same night"

                      By Rob Seman

                      Daily Record newspaper

II. People loved better in the old days.

      A. Wisdom from Appalachia.

         People who love Appalachia are familiar with the Foxfire

            book series.

         It is a compilation of crafts and traditions and stories

            from a dying breed, the mountain people of America.

         See if you identify with these observations made by a man

            who spent his lifetime in the mountains of western North


         Now this isn't a highly educated gentleman - just an ordinary

            guy - but what he has to say is significant.

         I'll try to read it like it's written.

            Lawton Brooks begins:

         I've seen lots of changes in my life.

         I'uz just wonderin' if I could live as long again as I have,

            what kind of a world we'd be in.

         But I just know the world is different from what it used t'be.

         Back then, when people had more time, they thought lots more

            of each other than they do now.

         Yeah, they did, they thought more of people than they do now.

            They's lots more people than they used to be.

         Now that's got lots to do with it....

         They goin' s'fast, that they ain't got time to take up with


         They ain't got time to take up with me.

             They goin' so fast.

         An' that's what makes th'difference.

             Used to be all ever'body had was time.

         They had plenty of time....

         I'll tell y'what - people enjoyed life better then than they

            do now.

         Because ever'body thought s'much more of each other....

         They's a lot of changes.

         They's as much difference in people now as they is in day

            an' night.

         People don't care for people no more like they used to.

         Use t'be if anybody got sick in th'community, why people'd

            go see about 'em, not just pass'em by.

         If you lived in our community, even if you was seven or

            eight mile away, when we hear you'uz sick, we'd go see

               about you....

         Nowadays you can get sick an' people ain't gonna go see

            about you t'ask how y'are, let alone do anything for you.

         You'd freeze t'death 'cause they ain't gonna get you no


         People loved people better in them days.

            I know so.

         People cared for each other more.

            Nowadays they're livin' too fast.

         They ain't got time t'take time with you.

            That's true.

              That's as true as it can be....

         Believe me, we was happier then than we are now.

         Lawton Brooks's observations about the changes he's seen in

            our culture are pretty accurate and profound.

         People don't care for people like they used to.

            "Nowadays they're livin' too fast ... livin' too high."


      B. What matters is relationships, what matters is other people.

III. Jesus had high expectations for his followers.

      A. Love enemies.                                          Matt 5:43

          1) Tall order.

          2) Even harder - Be perfect, as God is.

              a) Undoubtedly means "be mature and complete".

      B. Love is not particularly rare.

          1) Every religion stresses charity and concern for humans.

              a) Jews emphasized charity, prayer and fasting.

                  1> (note Matthew)

          2) Even sinners love someone.

          3) What should make Christians exceptional is we can love

                those who can't (or won't) love us back.

          4) We can love even if no one knows about it.

              a) It is enough that God knows.

IV. We have more impact than we realize.

     A. Small events can change a person's life.

         Senator John McCain was held in solitary confinement for two

            years after he was shot down over Hanoi.

         During much of that time, he had a guard who would enter his

            cell and order him to bow.

         When McCain refused, the guard would knock him to the ground.

            This ritual was repeated almost every morning for two years.

         McCain has never hated another human being more.

         But another guard helped show him the meaning of the religious

            faith he had casually professed all his life.

         One evening he had been tied in torture ropes and left alone

            in an empty room to suffer through the night.

         Sometime later this guard, whom McCain had never spoken to

            before, entered the room and silently loosened the ropes

               to alleviate his suffering.

         Just before morning, he returned and retightened the ropes

            before the other guards discovered his kindness.

         He never said a word to McCain, but some months later, on a

            Christmas morning, as McCain stood alone in the prison

               courtyard, the same good Samaritan walked up to him and

                  stood next to him for a few moments.

         Then with his sandal he drew a cross in the dirt.

         Both prisoner and guard stood wordlessly there for a minute or

            two, venerating the cross.

         Then the guard rubbed it out and walked away.

            Such experiences are transforming.


      B. We benefit as much as the ones we help.

          1) Those who are in the habit of giving love will regularly

                receive it.

  V. Random love can turn the tide.

      A. Random robbery in Montville this week.

          1) Masked man with automatic pistol robbed a pizza store, a

                liquor store and another pizza store.

          2) He himself ended up getting whacked by a baseball bat.

          3) Police officer: "He is either desperate or very brazen."

      B. Random kindness gets much less attention.

          1) The short history of a movement.

             It all started in a Sausalito, California, restaurant

                in 1982.

             Anne Herbert scrawled the words "practice random acts of

                kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a place mat.

             From there it spread to bumper stickers, quietly at first,

                but with all the powerful momentum of something important

                   -- calling us to lives of caring and compassion.

             A book called "Random Acts of Kindness" which contained true

                stories of acts of kindness, was published in 1993 and

                   set off a chain reaction.

             Articles appeared in nearly every newspaper in the U.S., and

                hundreds of radio stations devoted airtime to the cause.

             Toward the end of 1993, a Bakersfield, California, professor

                gave a class assignment to do a random act of kindness.

             It unleashing yet another flood of stories.


          2) The concept continues to spread.

VI. The power of secret loving.

      A. Jesus says we shouldn't just do good, we should do it secretly.

          1) Secret loving can have a profound effect on people.

          2) It encourages the ones who are helped to acknowledge God's

                involvement in their lives.

      B. Seven acts of Christ-like love, one per week.

          1) We need to become better at loving each other in tangible


          2) It would be wonderful if it became a habit.

          3) Use your imagination:

              - Why not pick up the litter you find on the pavement?

                   (I saw someone do this in front of Wal*Mart and the

                       store greeter was absolutely stunned.

                    "That's one in a million!")

              - Send a letter to a teacher you once had letting her

                   know about the difference she made in your life.

              - Order a mail-order gift, anonymously, for a friend or

                   someone at work who needs to be cheered up.

              - Slip a $10 note into the pocketbook of a needy friend,

                   or better yet, a stranger.

              - Shovel your neighbor's driveway when the blizzard hits

                   this afternoon!

VII. Life can't slow down like it used to be.

      A. However, we can become more considerate of one another.

          1) Do at least two of them for unbelievers.

      B. Love is action.  Do your part.

          1) It is the best evidence Jesus is inside you.

          2) It is the best evidence Jesus is inside this church.



#  960  "Random Acts of Kindness," Australian Charities website,


# 5497  "McCain's Christian Guard," John McCain, People Magazine,

           May 1, 2000, page 118.

#19157  "People Loved Better In The Old Days," Rev. Steve Bell, 50-Day

           Adventure Sample Sermon, Second Adventure Sunday, 2001, B.55

           Original source is Eliot Wigginton, ed. Foxfire 3 (Garden

           City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1975), pages 241-44.

These and 17,000 others are part of a database that can be downloaded,

  absolutely free, at


Relevant material:

HOLWICK'S COLLECTION        Number: 5285

SOURCE: Http://

TITLE: Random Acts Of Kindness

AUTHOR: (various)


Random Acts of Kindness


"When I was quite small my immigrant Russian grandmother once told me

that people in this country give from the wrong place.  'When you give

from here,' she declared pointing to her solar plexus and calling some

word that I could never pronounce, 'it's like keeping a ledger book.  I

give you three so you give me three.  I sweep the floor so you carry the


"She pulled the wisps of white hair out of her eyes with the back

of her red hands, shaking her head back and forth, tssking her tongue

against her teeth.  'That's not giving, that's trading,.  You give your

soul away when you give like that.  Giving is supposed to be from here,'

she said, pointing to the center of her chest with a feathery finger.

'When you give from your heart it's not to get anything back.  There is

no owing or owed.  You just give because you want to give.  When you

give like this, it fills you up.  It can't empty you.'

"'Your heart can never run out.  The more you give from there, the

fuller it will be.'  Then she wiped her hands on the yellow apron and

pulled me to her.  'It's like giving a hug.  You remember this,

kitzaleh.  Remember to give from your heart.  Even to strangers.  When

you give like this, there are no strangers.  And remember to notice when

other people give to you like this and be sure to say thank you.'"

-- Dawna Markova, Ph.D


"Do every act of your life as if it were your last."  -- Marcus Aurelius


"We cannot live only for ourselves.  A thousand fibers connect us with

our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our

actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."

-- Herman Melville


"What you deny to others will be denied to you, for the plain reason

that you are always legislating for yourself; all your words and actions

define the world you want live in."   -- Thaddeus Golas


"If someone comes to you asking for help, do not say in refusal, 'Trust

in God, HE will help.'  Rather act as if there were no God, and no one

to help except you."   -- Zaddik


"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that

matters, in the end." -- Ursula K. LeGuin


"It's fearful to know we're connected to everything in the universe,

because then we're responsible."   -- Glenda Taylor


"Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but

manifestations of strength and resolution."   -- Kahil Gibran


"I believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail.  He is

immortal, not because he alone among the creatures has an inexhaustible

voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of kindness and

compassion."  -- William Faulkner


"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that

people are really good at heart."   -- Anne Frank


HOLWICK'S COLLECTION        Number: 5177

TITLE: Cleverness & Kindness

AUTHOR: Abraham Heschel

DATE: 1/22/2000


"When I was young, I admired clever people.  Now that I am old, I admire

kind people."

  Abraham Heschel (1907-1972)

  Theologian and philosopher

  Cited in BITS & PIECES


Part of Foxfire quote not used:

Back then, they wasn't no such thing as a car - you couldn't


Seems like now if you can't go t'Atlanta an' back in th'same

   day, ... you way behind.

You ain't got time t'fool with it.

People livin' s'fast you got t'keep up with it in order t'stay

   up with things....

You can't slow down like we used t'do.

   I can't either.

If you got down sick, people'd come askin' about your eating


If you didn't have it, here'd come somebody with a shoulder

   of meat ... somebody with a ham - throw it right down there

      on your table.

See that you had somethin' to eat on.

   An' then expect no money for it.

Now tell me now who's gonna come ... when you're down, an'

   throw you a good country ham down on your table - without

      any money.

Now you show me one.

   Not never expectin' t'get a dime out of it....

We done it because we loved th' people, an' the people loved


That was just a habit that we had.

Copyright 2017 by Rev. David Holwick

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