A Simple Act of Kindness
God spoke to me at the airport.
It was thirty minutes until my plane was set to start boarding. I was occupying my time by reading The Last Hour, a book I had acquired at the prophecy conference the day before. I wasn’t really interested in engaging anyone in conversation, but I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge from the Lord to do so. I knew it was from Him because He commanded me to do something I would not normally consider.
A maintenance woman was emptying the trash at my gate. In obedience to the voice inside me, I went to her. She looked up at me, and I said, “I want to thank you for emptying the trash in this terminal.” She just stared at me. I didn’t know if she even understood my message. I sat down and went back to my book, not knowing whether my actions had accomplished anything in her life. But I knew they had accomplished something in mine.
I had performed a simple act of kindness. It didn’t require any huge sacrifice. No one noticed other than the two participants. It was one small interruption in our otherwise typical day.
Some would say that based on Jesus’ soon return, I blew it. I should have told her about Jesus. I should have explained the thirteen reasons why I believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture. I should have walked her down the “Romans Road.” I should have led her in the sinner’s prayer. One problem – that’s not what Jesus told me to do. He told me to thank her. He told me to express kindness.
But why? Why didn’t Jesus have me do something more significant? What value is there in a simple act of kindness?
Kindness Demonstrates You Are Like Jesus
Examine the interactions between Jesus and the people He encountered. Jesus was always kind. No one dared touch the leper – no one but Jesus. He welcomed the company and touch of the sinful even though the religious people spurned them. Jesus listened to the doubts, fears, and pleas of the hurting. He joined them in their tears. He fed the hungry, praised the humble, enlightened the blind, forgave the repentant and provoked lame feet to dance. Heavy hearts had reason to sing when Jesus was present.
Yes, Jesus’ actions seem harsh sometimes. Turning over the tables of the money-changers in the temple and declaring “Get behind me Satan” while glaring at Peter doesn’t appear kind. But in each case, Jesus gave people precisely what they needed – the truth in love. Jesus confronted their sin-sickness to draw them to His cure. To tell a patient with a deadly disease that they are healthy and have nothing to worry about might be comforting, but it is not kind.
Jesus was kind. God’s ultimate goal for humanity is not our salvation. His goal is that we become like Jesus (Gen. 1:26; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). When we show kindness, we give evidence that we are progressing toward that goal (Luke 6:35).
I can’t fill the bellies of 5000 men. It is a struggle just to keep my family fed. Curing diseases is not within my capability. I take medicine, get my annual flu shot, exercise, wash my hands, and go to the doctor to maintain my health. And I certainly can’t successfully call for someone to walk out of their tomb. Assuming Jesus doesn’t come back before it happens, I will eventually occupy a coffin myself. Jesus did many things I cannot do. But I, like He was and is, can be kind.
Kindness Is An Act Of Obedience To Jesus
Jesus commanded kindness. That’s why we give it. He said, “If a soldier demands you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow … Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Bless those who hurt you. Do good to those who hate you.” (Matt. 5:42-42, 44). On the night before Jesus died, He washed His disciple’s feet. His admonition to them after this humbling experience was that they should wash one another’s feet (John 13:14). “I was kind. You should be kind.”
The justification for our kindness is not because people deserve it. Remember how God treated us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) God didn’t wait until we merited a Savior before sending His Son. If we are to be like God, then we must be kind to the ungrateful and the evil (Luke 6:35).
Jesus offered practical examples of kindness. Let me suggest a few more. Mow the lawn for the neighbor who allows his dog to relieve itself in yours. Volunteer your childcare services to the young couple who needs some time alone. Invite someone you don’t know well to share a meal with your family at a nice restaurant at your expense. Address a Thank You card to the person who delivers your mail each day. Get creative. Make it fun.
Like Jesus’ other commands, we are skilled at coming up with excuses of why we can’t obey. “I’m busy. I need someone to be kind to me. That person hurt me too deeply for me to show kindness to him.” Jesus offered forgiveness to the soldiers who impaled Him on the cross (Luke 23:34). He promised a good future to a criminal who mocked His claim to be the Messiah (Luke 23:43). What Jesus did, He empowers us to do. People may not deserve our kindness, but Jesus deserves our obedience.
Kindness Creates Opportunities For You To Testify About Jesus
Spend some time on the interstate. Listen to the dialogue between the customer and the salesperson. Observe the lack of conversation that occurs between families at the restaurant as each of them pays more attention to their electronic devices than they do to each other. You will come to this conclusion: People can be rude. We’ve almost come to expect it.
The negative environment we inhabit makes acts of kindness more noticeable. That which is good becomes ever more precious with its increasing rarity. Jesus said we are to be “salt and light” in our communities (Matt. 5:13-14). Salt and light are most valued when they are absent.
Jesus said our love would be the primary indicator that we are one of His disciples (John 13:35). The highest manifestation of love is our willingness to look beyond ourselves and serve others, especially when it requires sacrifice from us (John 15:13). When the Church acts according to its design, we “shine as lights” in the middle of a “crooked and twisted generation” (Phil. 2:15). Kindness is unusual. It causes people to notice and prompts them to ask questions (1 Peter 3:15).
One recent morning, my interaction with a gentleman caused him to say, “You’re awfully jolly today.” The only reason he reacted this way to my mood was that he was not accustomed to it (especially at that time of day). I answered, “It’s a beautiful day, I have Jesus as my Savior, and I’ll be eating dinner with my wife tonight.” I didn’t know how he would respond to my reasoning, but I knew this was my opportunity. Kindness gave me a platform from which to speak the name of Jesus.
Jesus Rewards Kindness
Some of you feel like you are making no contribution to the Kingdom because you have not written a book or stood behind a pulpit or seen scores of people express faith in Jesus Christ because of your witness. If Jesus tells you to do those things, do them; not doing them would be an act of rebellion. But if Jesus has never called you to something you would consider significant, or you’ve never seen significant outcome to your service, let me give you hope. You can please Jesus and gain His affirmation by merely being kind.
Near the end of Jesus’ time on earth, He taught His disciples about the future (Matt. 24-25). He gave dire warnings about false teaching, persecution, political upheaval and supernatural disasters. The second half of Jesus’ message consists of three stories, each of which tells how His followers are to respond to an awareness of the approaching troubles. Be ready. Invest what God has given you. Be kind.
As the world’s destruction draws closer and unrighteousness abounds, the natural instinct is to take a survivalist mentality. Every man for himself. The best we can do is to hold on. In Jesus’ third story (Matt. 25:31-46), He tells us we must do more. He tells us to be kind. As a Christian, limited resources don’t permit us to limit the expressions of our love. No matter how small our actions, Jesus promises a reward (Matt. 10:41-42).
Jesus’ third story teaches something else. Jesus sees the kind acts you do: The student who obviously had a rough morning and received a hug from you. The person you let come over into your lane so they could make it through the green light, even though you did not. The subordinate whom you pulled aside to express your thanks for their hard work, positive attitude, and consistent punctuality. These are God-pleasing acts of kindness. They don’t cost much, but they are eternal investments in what God values most – people.
What Kind Act Will You Do Today?
If we truly are living in the last hour, then now is the time to use every occasion God gives to show kindness. It’s not a lot to ask. It merely requires you to set aside your agenda and your comfort long enough to see and respond to someone else’s need. Think of the people currently in your life. Take a moment to consider what you could you do to be Jesus to them. Then go out and do it.
I have not always adequately responded to the inner prompting of God’s Spirit. Thankfully, I did that day at the airport. A short time after my interaction with this woman, I looked up from my reading long enough to see she had finished her task. She was walking toward the other end of the terminal. Before she left my gate, she looked toward me. Our eyes met. She smiled. My message got through.
How long had it been since anyone noticed her and expressed genuine gratitude for her contribution? I like to think that maybe my kindness fueled her interactions with others she met throughout her day. I sowed kindness; they reaped the benefit. But since we didn’t exchange contact information, there’s no way to know.
I boarded my plane, I flew into the sky, and I arrived safely at my destination. I might never see that woman again. I wouldn’t recognize her if I did. But who’s to say that our paths won’t cross in the future? I will fly into the sky again one day soon. This time, I won’t need a plane. And I pray that woman will be there. Maybe our eyes will meet again. And perhaps through the resulting conversation, I’ll discover the life-changing power of one simple act of kindness.
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