Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1: 5 – 8
We have seen many examples of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” played out on social media in the last few weeks. It has swept the nation with adults and many children taking part and many of you may have accepted the challenge, as well! It has been an amazing thing, and many of you may have even been curious enough to read about how the idea came about. It has definitely been for a good cause – to bring more awareness to ALS, and much money has been raised for research for this horrific disease that devastates so many lives.
Today I have a different type challenge for you, and it is one that I think you will agree is also for a really good cause! Well, actually, it’s not my challenge. I must give God the credit for this original idea that comes from the pages of Scripture, and it is His challenge for each of us, every day – not just on this day!
I’m sure you’ve done “this thing” many times before, but it came to mind as I thought of a dear friend’s birthday today, August 29th. A little over a year ago, her husband sent out invitations a month earlier for a surprise birthday luncheon, and he asked that instead of gifts that each of us “do something nice in her honor for someone or for some organization – ‘acts of kindness’ – and share them with her on her special day.”
It was the most thoughtful idea for a gift, not just for her, but for all of us who benefitted in such a special way. It was simply amazing to hear all the things that individuals came up with – big and small. Her daughter and son-in-law raised money for the Special Olympics by getting individuals to sponsor him to rappel a tall building, some donated to her favorite charities, some volunteered at local services, and others told about incredible things they had done for neighbors, the elderly, people in need, friends, their church, or community.
As for me, I had difficulty coming up with an idea! I wanted it to be something unique, and simply writing a check didn’t seem worthy of her friendship and kindness to me and others. But finally, I decided I would do “31 days of kindness” for her birthday month of August. I can’t tell you what a gift it ended up being for me!
Spending a month concentrating on doing things for others each and every day, looking for opportunities to do so, and stretching myself to think about what someone would consider “an act of kindness” brought the biggest blessing. They were mostly small, simple things, but things I hoped would make a difference in someone’s day. It felt good to do things for others and sometimes I saw the results with spoken appreciation, and sometimes I didn’t (it wasn’t needed). It put a bounce in my step each day as I looked for ways to bless others. It became not just an assignment I had been tasked to do, but a privilege and a joy.
God desires that we be good to each other, to show brotherly kindness, and to share our love in increasing measure. There is no better way to honor our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, than to share kindness with others.
So on this day, I would like to extend His challenge to you – to do acts of kindness every day. Do them in honor of someone you care about. Do them for yourself to receive the blessing. Do them for others who are in need of a smile and a helping hand, but most of all do them because you want to share God’s love with others.
Most of you probably do them anyway or you do them without even realizing it, but they can be small things – as simple as offering to run an errand, carrying cookies to a shut-in, sending cards to those who are going through a difficult time, making a phone call to someone that you know is lonely, or something bigger – volunteering for a day, carrying someone to an appointment, or paying for a family’s lunch at a local restaurant. But whatever you do, or however you do it, you will know that you have blessed others and you will receive the greater blessing yourself! I hope you will accept His challenge and pass it on to others!
Happy Birthday, my friend, and today, my acts of kindness will be in honor of you!
Dear Lord, help us to remember to do little things to show our kindness to others, not just to those who mean so much to us, but to all those around us. May we never become too busy or too pre-occupied with life that we forget to share your love and grace. For in doing so, we serve you. Amen