Tips on Practicing (Not So) Random Acts of Kindness

Is there anyone who hasn’t heard the phrase “Random Acts of Kindness”?  The phenomenon became popular in American culture in the 90’s and has since spread globally, inspiring movements, school projects, even a movie.  Buying the coffee for the car behind you at the Starbuck’s 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.  It’s 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 God’s own heart.  Christians shouldn’t 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 God’s 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 don’t 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.  I’ll 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 I’m a mom I realize how much you love us because that’s 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, doesn’t 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, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

6.  Make it a group activity!  There are several great reasons to enlist others.  It’s a great way strengthen your sisterly bonds and make new friends.  You can take advantage of each other’s skills and abilities. You can hold each other accountable.  And finally, it’s 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 we’re not in it for the thrill.  We’re in it for the enduring joy of being a doer, not just a hearer of God’s word. (James 1:21-23).  What can be better than that?

This article was written by April Main.

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