Winsome And WelcomingSeries: Fruit Of The Spirit
WINSOME AND WELCOMING
Sermon By Terry Siverd / October 22, 2023 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
My time as your preacher is quickly drawing to a close. After today, I will have two more Sundays in the pulpit (perhaps three) - - then in mid-November Larry Siegle will begin his new ministry with our Cortland Church Family. I am eagerly anticipating Larry's arrival, and I hope you are as well. Pray for him and Linda as they make final preparations for their move from Hawaii
to Warren. I asked Larry this past week if they owned coats – they've lived in Honolulu for 5 years with temps ranging 75-85°.
As we wrap up our thoughts on The Fruit Of The Spirit, I want to speak this morning about another Christian virtue.
The Cambridge dictionary defines the word winsome as, “attractive and pleasing with simple qualities”.
Another dictionary defines winsome as, “attractive in an open and delightful way”.
I saw a man in a restaurant this past week who had one of the most winsome appearances I had ever encountered.
He was an older man, mid-70's or nearing 80 I would guess. His face had a sparkle that tempted me to introduce myself.
When he entered the diner, walking with a cane, I detected something special about his smile and a sparkle in his eyes. Without his speaking a word, I was drawn to him - - just by his appearance. If bearded, he'd be a perfect Santa Claus.
I know that we cannot always control the way we look.
I also know that looks can sometimes be deceiving.
Having a winsome personality may be attributed to a number of factors, but
there are elements of a winsome persona that are often a reflection of our Lord Jesus.
It is a trait that we ought all desire to possess and I believe that it is a demeanor that can be cultivated.
Just because you weren't born with it doesn't mean you can't acquire it.
There are no photographs of Jesus so we don't really know what he looked like.
From a purely physical perspective we can read the prophetic utterance concerning the Messiah found in Isa.53:2 - -
He has no stately form or majesty, that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
Yet, alongside of this Scripture we can read others that witness to His winsomeness.
Mark's gospel account records - -
1:45 / (people) we coming to (Jesus) from everywhere …
2:2 / (in welcoming Jesus home) many were gathered together …
2:13 / all the multitude were coming to (Jesus) …
3:20 / (Jesus) came home, and the multitude gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.
One might argue that the fascination over Jesus was due to everyone wanting a miracle.
In telling the household of Cornelius about Jesus, Peter said (Acts 10:38) - -
You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power,
and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with Him.
I remain convinced that it wasn't just the miracles that drew others to Jesus.
Jn.1:14 states, The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory, glory as the only begotten from the Father, full of GRACE and TRUTH.
Perhaps there was something more than muscle and good looks, more than the power to do miracles.
The apostle Paul points us in the right direction when he calls attention to the mind of Christ (Philp.2:5).
The word mind is best translated by attitude.
Paul hastens to exhort: have this ATTITUDE in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
This “attitude” is defined by Paul in terms of “servant-mindedness”, which will be our topic next Sunday.
Luke notes the early days the church (Acts 2:46-47): Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with GLADNESS and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having FAVOR with all the people. And the Lord was adding to them number daily, those who were being saved.
I have added the word “welcoming” to our sermon title to augment what I mean by “winsome”.
Rom.16:16 is a citation that we could easily peruse with pausing, but it is worth a pause. Having postscripted his epistle
with two dozen GREETINGS, Paul declares, Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you.
Paul's intentionally repetitive “greet” is saturated with a warmth that expresses itself with a kiss that is holy.
Acts 4:33 adds - - With great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
AND ABUNDANT GRACE WAS UPON THE ALL.
It is not a stretch to suggest that it is grace that inspires and empowers a winsome attitude.
Winsome has several synonyms: sunny, upbeat, cheerful, bright, optimistic, gladsome and happy, among others.
Each of these words can be used to describe people filled with God's rich grace.
There is a lively debate that flows from this call for winsomeness that argues that such is
nothing but a strategy to spice up the church and to help soften the hard truths of the Bible.
The word winsome is a old word. The Scottish poet Bobby Burns made it popular, but over the last century
it had almost become obsolete. However in 2022 it was deemed to be the Christian word of the year.
This uptick in usage has been traced to winsomeness being marshalled as a compensatory strategy for dealing
with an ever-intensifying hostile environment magnified by the cultural wars confronting Christians today.
More than a stance that one adopts as a soul-winning strategy, I believe that being winsome
is an integral part of our true Christian character which needs to be embedded in our daily lives.
IF ANYONE HAS CAUSE FOR BEING WINSOME, IT IS US CHRISTIANS!!
sunny, upbeat, cheerful, bright, optimistic, gladsome and happy - - should these dispositions not describe us??
Our Cortland Church family has become be remarkable in the cultivation of these twin graces: winsome & welcoming. We have received many compliments from visitors who have noticed these graces.
Every church ought to be warm, winsome and welcoming, but such is not always the case.
In fact, it is frequently the opposite. How inexcusable to hear others say, “I went to church and no one spoke to me!”
How tragic it is when others venture out to a church for worship only to meet up with cliques and a cool reception.
How sad that would-be worshipers can encounter a sterile assembly, almost void of joy and delight.
HOW IS WINSOMENESS CULTIVATED AND COMMUNICATED?*
Start each day with pleasant words!
Smile more often!
Prov.15:13 states, a joyful heart makes a cheerful face.
Express at least one honest comment of appreciation or an encouraging remark to each person you are with daily.
* These three suggestions were offered by Chuck Swindoll in an online essay titled, “The Winsome Witness”.