Josh’s aunt was in the hospital – terminal cancer. She rarely had an appetite, but on Josh’s asking if there was anything he could get her, “Taco Bell” came to mind. So off he went to buy a quesadilla for his dying aunt. As he approached the drive-thru, a car cut in front of him. Being a quick-tempered youth, this rude act was, by itself, enough to make him curse, but when he considered that this jerk was really cutting off his awaiting aunt, it made his blood boil. So imagine his surprise when he arrived at the drive-thru window to pay his bill, only to find out that the driver of the car in front of him had paid his bill. It was a random act of kindness. When she learned of it, Josh’s aunt reflected on the timing and how that person could not have known that he would touch the heart of a woman with few meals left to eat on this earth. Josh broke down in tears.
This true story (listen to the story here) took place as a result of St. Paul, Minnesota’s, Christian radio station KTIS program called Drive-thru Difference, in which it encourages listeners to pay for the person behind them in the drive-thru, a random act of kindness that is followed up with a flyer about the radio station. This is a win-win advertising idea, but there are also plenty of random acts of kindness going on out there that have no advertising motive. Maybe you’ve been the recipient of one yourself. Maybe you’ve been the doer of one yourself.
Beyond the bumper sticker, there is a surprisingly large movement of people – both religious and humanist – that value and practice random acts of kindness. As Christians, we are called to intentional acts of kindness, however random they may seem to the recipient. In fact, one of the fruits of the Spirit is kindness (Gal. 5:22). We are commanded to be kind to each other (Eph. 4:32), and a kindness toward the poor is actually a loan to God, which comes back with interest (Prov. 19:17).
So, with such compelling scriptural rationale for kindness, I have to ask: When was the last time you did a kind deed toward someone you don’t know? In Luke 6, Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. But love your enemies, do good to them…Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” These verses make clear that our kindness cannot be limited to friends and family. If we want to be like Heavenly Daddy, we’re gonna have to expand our acts of kindness – even to people who we might consider wicked and ungrateful. This last characteristic is key in establishing a right attitude for our acts of kindness. We must not be concerned with how our kindness is received or whether it is appreciated. Even if it is thrown back in our faces, we are in good company with God the Father who has been there/done that.
If we tune our ears and eyes to the Spirit’s leading, we will begin to see many ways we can extend kindness, in a seemingly random fashion. And I am NOT talking about helping someone out on Farmville or Yoville, but rather real acts of kindness in the real world. The Random Act of Kindness Foundation’s Web site hosts stories and resources about the benefits of kindness. Their resource links are impressive. Spend some time on the site and click through links for a long, warm fuzzy. It is uplifting to learn how kindness really does matter to so many people.
In fact, some people are completely sold out to it, like Bob, the founder of One Million Acts of Kindness. He and his dog Bogart travel in a funky bus to college campuses and the like to inspire young people to set for themselves the goal of committing one million acts of kindness in their lifetimes. You might not be ready for that sort of commitment, but I challenge you today to start tuning your heart into this fruit of the Spirit by saying, “Yes, Lord,” when opportunities present themselves. Why not start this month by giving a gift for Jesus’s birthday to someone else. Add one more to your gift list and let us know the impact of that kindness on you or the recipient.Donna Lee Schillinger is the author of On My Own Now: Straight Talk from the Proverbs for Young Christian Women who Want to Remain Pure, Debt-free and Regret-free and editor of the recent anthology Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off.