We are capable of incredibly compassionate acts. This congregation tends to be a compassionate people. It is easy to touch our hearts. We are quickly moved by tragedy and injustice. To many of you, suffering is a magnet--you are drawn to help those who suffer.

We are moved to help struggling people if those people do not expect us to stoop. BUT ... there is one thing that can quickly "turn off" our sense of compassion: expect us to stoop. We do not like to stoop. Demand we stoop, and we are turned off. We are called to help, not to stoop.

What does that mean? What is stooping? In this use of the word, stooping implies a downward reach to assist someone unworthy of our effort. To stoop is to do something that is beneath us. It is an act that lies below our dignity. We naturally associate stooping with being debased or degraded.

"I am glad to be of help, but never ask me to stoop."

The more important we consider self, the harder we find it to stoop.

  1. There are people we will not stoop to help.
    1. Examples exist everywhere.
      1. People controlled by their prejudices will not stoop to help the objects of their prejudice.
        1. Such prejudice is and has been the foundation of wars from Eastern Europe to the Middle East. Hate will not stoop.
        2. Such prejudice is and has been the foundation of tribalism on continents such as Africa for centuries. One tribe refuses to stoop to help people they classify as inferior in another tribe.
        3. Such prejudice is and has been the foundation of racial prejudice in this nation. People of one complexion and facial contour will not stoop to help a person of a rejected complexion and facial contour.
        4. Such prejudice is and has been the basis of attitudes of sexism world wide. Too many men see too many women as inferior objects, and too many women look at men in the same manner.
        5. Such prejudice is and has been the foundation of economic snobbery in all cultures. "My economic status makes me important and gives me significance over you because you are economically inferior."
      2. Everyone refuses to stoop to help someone.
    2. All of us are guilty.
      1. What kind of person would you regard to be so far beneath you that you would not help them?
      2. Let's look at some typical situations.
        1. Typically we will not stoop to help anyone who causes us to suffer. "If you want my help, don't cause me any pain."
        2. Typically we will not stoop to help anyone who seriously disappoints us. "If I am ashamed of you and what you do, do not expect me to help you."
        3. Typically we will not stoop to help anyone who made us a victim of serious injustice. "If you hurt me without cause and were mean to me, do not expect me to help you."
        4. Typically we will not stoop to help anyone who used humiliation to embarrass or devastate us. "If you caused me public embarrassment and ridicule, do not look to me for help."
        5. Typically we will not stoop to help anyone who disgusts us. We all know a kind of people with a kind of problem whom we feel are too disgusting to help.

  2. Because of attitudes about stooping, we have redesigned the church.
    1. "No, we have not!"
      1. Yes, we have.
      2. "No we have not! The deliberate, conscious commitment of the Church of Christ for two hundred years has been to restore the church of the first century in the world of today!"
    2. What are we trying to restore?
      1. James 2:1-4 Brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
        1. Is that an important focus in our restoration efforts?
      2. Romans 14:1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.
        1. Is that an important focus in our restoration efforts?
      3. 1 John 3:10-18 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
        1. Is that an important focus in our restoration efforts?
    3. "Get back to the point! You said we redesign the church. That is ridiculous!"
      1. May I explain what I mean by that statement?
      2. Too often "our" issue before "our" church is staunchly cemented to "our" conviction that the church does not stoop to help people.
        1. Our basic conviction: the church is to hold people accountable for evil, not to stoop to help people who do evil.
        2. Our issue is about us.
        3. Our question is, "Who will we stoop to help?"
        4. If we decide God's will in Christ is that we not stoop, then we will not stoop.
      3. We devise all kinds of questions to eliminate stooping.
        1. Is it wise to stoop?
        2. What will the precedent of stooping cause?
        3. Where will stooping lead the church?
        4. If we have to stoop to reach a person, can God use that person?
        5. If you have to stoop to help a person, how could that person possible help get God's work done?
        6. Is it good stewardship to stoop?
        7. Our conclusion: stooping is against the will and purposes of God.
      4. But we ask the wrong questions.
        1. The question is not, "What do we think about stooping?"
        2. The question is, "Does God stoop?"

  3. If you and I are genuinely Christians, then we belong to the God who stoops.
    1. God started stooping when Adam and Eve sinned, and He never stopped.
      1. When the world became so evil that no one thought a single decent thought or had a single good motive, God stooped, and began again by saving Noah and his family.
      2. When God called Abraham to follow Him, He stooped.
      3. When He made a promise to Jacob as this thief fled from Esau, God stooped.
      4. When Joseph became a slave in Egypt, God stooped.
      5. When He delivered the Israelite slaves from Egypt, God stooped--a lot!.
      6. When those freed slaves built a golden calf gave that idol credit for delivering them from Egypt, God stooped.
      7. God stooped continually in the age of Israel known as the judges.
      8. He stooped when David sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba.
      9. He stooped when Nehemiah cried to him in Babylonian captivity.
      10. He stooped very low when Jesus was born.
      11. He stooped even lower when Jesus was crucified.
      12. He stooped all the way to the world of the dead when Jesus was resurrected.
      13. He stoops His lowest a sinful person is resurrected from burial in baptism to begin a new life.
      14. He stoops every single day as He forgives every single Christian.
    2. Do you really question that God stoops? Listen.
      1. Romans 5:7-11 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
      2. Ephesians 2:1-7 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

During Jesus' earthly life and ministry, he repeatedly emphasized a truth the religious leaders of Israel did not like. The truth was simple. People who refuse to stoop to help sinful people cannot belong to the God who saves sinners.

Whom did we say we typically refuse to stoop to help? We typically refuse to help those who are the source of suffering, disappointment, injustice, humiliation, or disgust.

Have you ever caused God suffering, disappointment, injustice, humiliation, or disgust? Are you not glad that God is not to arrogant to stoop to help you?

"How far will God stoop to help a person?" If that person trust what God did in Jesus on the cross and in the resurrection, if that person wants to direct his life away from evil, God will stoop as low as necessary to catch the hand of faith.

No matter where you are in your life, God can reach you...and wants to.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 14 January 2001

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