Skip to comments.Tips on Practicing (Not So) Random Acts of Kindness
Posted on 05/15/2012 6:46:30 AM PDT by hawkins
Is there anyone who hasnt heard the phrase Random Acts of Kindness? The phenomenon became popular in American culture in the 90s and has since spread globally, inspiring movements, school projects, even a movie. Buying the coffee for the car behind you at the Starbucks drive-through, giving someone your parking space at the mall, or leaving an encouraging note at a restaurant are small gestures that can mean a lot to the recipient and foster a sense of community among our fellow passengers to the grave.
But the concept of doing kind works is not new. Its as old as, well, creation. God tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. So, if we were made to do good works, does it make sense to relegate the performance of such to the category of random? How about instead of just committing random acts of kindness, we commit Godly acts of kindness? What, you may ask, is the difference? The difference is that random implies that we perform random acts of kindness out of the goodness of our own hearts. Godly acts of kindness are committed out of the kindness of Gods own heart. Christians shouldnt do good works because of our own innate goodness or for our own glory. In doing good works we are sowing the seeds of righteousness. As God admonished Israel through the prophet Hosea (10:12) Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you. Christians sow good works for the sake of the glory of God and His kingdom. So even if an act of kindness is completely spontaneous and random, our intent makes all the difference in the world.
The variety and number of good works you can perform are limited only by your imagination and commitment to obey Gods command to love (or show) kindness as Micah concisely states in Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? That is not to say doing Godly works of kindness doesnt take planning or resources. Sometimes it takes a lot of planning to do something randomly. Here are a few tips to incorporate Godly works into your everyday life.
1. Make a list of prospects. You probably know lots of people who would appreciate a nice slice of kindness. We are admonished in Galatians 6:10 to do good unto all, but especially those of the household of faith, so start with your local congregation or a sister congregation. Do you know a struggling college student? How about a widow(er) living alone for the first time in 30 years? New mom? Young couple? Teenager? Retirees? Preacher and his family? Sometimes we overlook opportunities in our own backyard, while we are gazing over the fence. By the way, add to the list as often as you can.
2. Identify true needs. It doesnt have to be big hairy need, just a need. Hold the door for the lady with the stroller. Share your umbrella with an elderly person walking to their car. The next time you are making meatloaf, make a mini one for the widow next door. Needs are everywhere. We simply need to keep our eyes and ears open.
3. Go for meaning over money. Godly works dont have to be a budget buster. Expressions of affection or gratitude can be among the most meaningful and memorable of all Godly acts of kindness. Whenever I end a phone call with my mom I always say, Love you Mom. Ill talk to you later. All too infrequently, I take a few extra moments to say something like, Mom, I just want you to know how much I appreciate the sacrifices you made for us kids growing up. Now that Im a mom I realize how much you love us because thats how much I love my own kids. I hope I can be as great a mother as you are. These conversations invariably end up with both of us getting a little weepy and my son rolling his eyes at me. Double bonus! A phone call just to say hi, a friendly wave, a few extra minutes of your undivided attention. These gestures are free, but deeply valuable. In essence, you are giving the gift of YOU.
4. Put together a Godly Act of Kindness tool kit. Just because an act of kindness is random, doesnt mean it has to be spontaneous. Equip yourself with the tools you need to seize the moment. Some handy items are blank cards, pens in assorted colors, stamps, single-serving containers for cooking and carrying food, stickers, bookmarks, and finally, candy, in case you get hungry.
5. Set Goals. Using your list of prospects, write down some realistic and specific goals about the number and types of Godly acts you want to perform. Your goals will also help you determine items you need in your Toolkit. Be careful not to over commit your time or resources or you may get burned out. You are trying to develop a lifelong pattern of Godly works. Remember, its a marathon, not a sprint.
6. Make it a group activity! There are several great reasons to enlist others. Its a great way strengthen your sisterly bonds and make new friends. You can take advantage of each others skills and abilities. You can hold each other accountable. And finally, its fun!
7. Take some cues from the Bible. Just a few of the kind acts seen in the Bible are: making clothes, providing food and drink, carrying a load, hospitality, and words of encouragement. Of course, the most important is sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Word of God inspires, guides, and admonishes us toward good works. Go to it often.
In our busy lives it can be difficult to look outside of our own schedules, families and obligations. It takes more than good intentions to begin a lifelong pattern of caring for others. It takes deliberate discipline, planning and godly instruction. This may not sound as thrilling as random acts of kindness, but were not in it for the thrill. Were in it for the enduring joy of being a doer, not just a hearer of Gods word. (James 1:21-23). What can be better than that?
This article was written by April Main.
I notice how the author deliberately keeps things cheap.
The Bible says we are to give sacrificially.
Why a mini meatloaf? A full size meatloaf could be divided into four or more portions and frozen for four times the meals.
So, who among the members of your church would be very blessed if you took them shopping, and paid for a week’s groceries?
Is there a single mom who needs tires for her car? A battery?
Is there a young teen whose family cannot afford to send her to summer music camp that you could help?
Several things about this article offend me mightily. One, the author’s assumption that Christians need to be told to do such things, and her very insistence that it be kept free and easy.
...when your taught as a child to open doors, say good morning, or fetch something for someone not tall enough in a supermarket.........there’s not much thinking needed, it comes naturally
“... and her very insistence that it be kept free and easy”.
Just my two cents (no pun intended) but I got something a bit different from the article. Many people think in order to be kind, one must pay a lot of money. Financially... many people are struggling. Common kindness and civility costs nothing or very little. I couldn’t afford to send a child to a summer camp. However, I do drive children home when their parents can’t get off of work to come and get them. I can’t afford to pay for someone’s groceries but I do send in canned goods for the poor. Even a “good morning” or smile at someone is kind and makes their day a bit more pleasant. I guess my point is that being a Christian doesn’t have to be financially a struggle to someone. It is simply how one views an opportunity to help someone else.
“Several things about this article offend me mightily. One, the authors assumption that Christians need to be told to do such things, and her very insistence that it be kept free and easy.”
I agree with you. Many people don’t recognize true conversion when they see it, and that includes A LOT of evangelical pastors. Because of weak modern theology we have scores of people in our pews on Sundays who have not been born again. Some congregations are made up almost entirely of the unconverted. The result is that “Christians” now need to be told how to be a Christian. The true Christian, the man Christ died for who is now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, will, over time, begin to display a Christ-like character. That’s what sanctification is all about.
Acceptance of so many false converts is a real blight on the church in America. We are trifling with men’s souls, convincing them they are righ with the Lord when they are not. And then there is the damage done to the name of Christ.
We used to call these manners:
open door for lady.
help the elderly load their groceries
let someone into the flow of traffic.
I like to go buy some popsicles or ice cream treats and give them to outside laborers on summer days. They are amazed and grateful. It is an easy and inexpensive thing to do. Also keep a few extra umbrellas in the car to pass out to people walking in rainy conditions, and stock up on cheap gloves that I have been known to give to anyone coming door-to-door without them in the winter.
Tip #1: When putting money into a homeless person’s cup, make sure it’s not his coffee.
Tip #2: Donate the entire muffin. If you try to donate just the stumps, you may run into problems.
Your post reminds me of a number of places I have been where there are “community umbrellas”. People just leave them for other folks going out and those going out take the umbrellas. Good idea on keeping a few extra in the car.
I watch for them on sales at Walgreens or dollar stores. I am sure they are not the best, heavy-duty ones.
She lost me with this step.
Other than that, I think it's quite a good article. I agree with the author - I've never thought the adjective "random" added anything to the "acts of kindness." There's no "senseless beauty," either, since we couldn't perceive any kind of beauty without our senses!
If one goes into any situation thinking "How can I help others?" then much of what the author suggests will come naturally. However, a reminded to be looking for ways to be good to others certainly doesn't hurt.
And if the recipiant doesn’t see your act of kindness, repeat it with the same item. For example, reach in the tip jar, pull the money out, and put it back in.
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