Tag Archives: Random Acts of Kindness

spiritual infection

While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly.
Ezra 10:1 (NIV)

Earlier this summer I had outpatient surgery to remove a patch of cancerous cells from my ear. Days after my surgery the pain and discomfort were getting worse instead of better. By the time the chills and fever set in, I knew that something was wrong. It turns out I had a nasty infection that required two rounds of antibiotics and some intense attention to quell.

One of the subtle changes I’ve noticed during my lifetime is the attention that has been given to fighting infectious diseases. You can hardly go into a public venue or restroom without finding sanitizers by the door waiting for you to protect yourself and others from germs, viruses, and disease.

But, like so many things in life, infection cuts both ways. The positive example can be infectious as well. A teacher stands at the door of her classroom each morning and greets every child with their own unique handshake. A stranger surprises with a random act of kindness and then tells the recipient to simply “pay it forward.” One person’s sacrifice or selfless act inspires others to follow like Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

In today’s chapter, Ezra’s very public display of regret and repentance compelled others to stop and notice. Eventually, the crowd began to join him. One man’s confession and dedication became the spiritual contagion that started a spiritual revival.

In the quiet this morning, I find myself taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting various experiences I’ve had along my life journey of spiritual outpourings and movements within groups of people. In most cases, I can follow them back to one person whose faith, conversion, witness, or confession became the spiritual pebble that started the avalanche.

I’m reminded this morning that I have the power to infect people in both positive and negative ways. What am I affecting with my thoughts, words, actions, relationships, posts, tweets, and snaps? When Paul wrote his letter to the followers of Jesus in Galatia, he used contrasting descriptions of infectious spiritual results.

A negative spiritual infection Paul describes this way:

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.

Galatians 5:19-21 (MSG)

A positive spiritual infection Paul describes this way:

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG)

I endeavor to infect those around me in a positive way today.

Have a great day, my friend.

Kingdom Economics 101: Paying it Forward

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (MSG)

I’ve always loved the movie Pay it Forward. It’s a bittersweet story, but the reality of life is bittersweet. Along our life journeys we all slog through deep valleys and we all have our mountain top moments. The story of Pay it Forward is predicated on the notion of people simply going out of their way to perform a random act of kindness for others, asking only that the recipient of their kindness “Pay it forward.” The whole idea is beautifully void of organization, legalism, regulation, or institutional systemization. It is organic and relational and personal and spiritual.

One of the deepest valleys of my own life journey was the period of time that I was going through the end of my first marriage and subsequent divorce. I’ll never forget meeting with a wise counselor, who also has a prophetic gift. I remember meeting with him expecting condemnation and judgment, as I’d experienced a generous dose of both during that time. This wise counselor, however, extended grace and kindness I didn’t expect.

He acknowledged the difficulty of the situation and then said, “Some day, you are going to walk along the side of another who will find themselves walking this same path. You will help them, and give them comfort.” In other words, “You will take what wisdom and comfort you experienced while traversing this valley, and you will pay it forward.”

I have been able to pay it forward more than once. In the Kingdom of God, paying it forward is Kingdom Economics 101. It’s how God operates and it underlies all of Jesus’ teaching. He gave to me so that I might give to others. He laid down for me so that I might lay down my life for others. He comforts us so that we might pay it forward.

That’s exactly what Paul is getting at with the followers of Jesus in the ancient city of Corinth in this morning’s chapter:

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

This morning I’m thinking simply about how I might pay it forward today. I realized long ago, but need continuous reminders, that being focused on myself and my momentary difficulties blinds me to the many opportunities I have to show random acts of kindness, generosity, and forgiveness each day. I have to stop looking inward (at my I-phone, I-pad, I-mac, and I-everything) and looking around at others if I truly and consistently want to pay it forward.

Practice Love

stressed and worried
stressed and worried (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. 1 John 3:18-20 (MSG)

“I know how bad I’ve been; My sins are staring me down.” So go the lyrics of King David singing the blues in Psalm 51.

Anyone who has a conscience has felt the same weight. We know our shortcomings. We know our mistakes. They stare us in the face and haunt our thoughts and our dreams. The weight of guilt and shame easily gives way to “debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it.” Yet, that debilitating self-criticism can quickly become a paralysis of guilt and shame. We become so myopically focused on our mistakes and feelings of worthlessness that we miss the veritable plethora of daily opportunities to act out of love and kindness towards family, friends, loved ones, neighbors, and strangers.

(Confession: I’ve been given to a significant amount of navel gazing in recent weeks and it’s getting me down. So, this post is me writing to me.)

Practice love. Seek out a chance to do something nice. Work at showing kindness. If we expend the thought, time and energy to demonstrate loving kindness towards others, we counteract the paralyzing effect of shame, fulfill Jesus’ command, build the Kingdom of God, and feel better about ourselves at the same time.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
Random Acts of Kindness on Pinterest

A Kind & Grateful Endeavor

thank you note
(Photo credit: George Cheng)

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)

I am always encouraged and surprised when someone posts a comment or personally shares with me that one of my blog posts was significant for them in some way. As we are reminded at the end of today’s chapter, it’s heartening to know that in God’s economy the things we do are never useless. They compound spiritual interest in ways we may not notice but are nonetheless of eternal significance.

This morning I’m taking from this particular thought two motivational nuggets for the new year:

  1. I endeavor to consciously do more random acts of kindness, exhibit more generosity, and love others more tangibly.
  2. I endeavor to tell others when their own words or actions have impacted me, send more thank you notes, and express genuine gratitude for others.

Chapter-a-Day Acts 3

source: elmago_delmar via Flickr

Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. Acts 3:12a (NLT)

So often, success begins with being aware of the opportunity and seizing it.  How many times each day to I have opportunity to love, to show kindness to a stranger, to do good, or to encourage someone? How often do I completely miss that opportunity?

I tend to be a person who gets lost in whatever it is I’m doing. It drives my wife crazy on a regular basis. She will often remind me of the invisible blinders I wear when I’m on task. More than annoying my wife, I fear that my single-minded focus on whatever task is at hand blinds me from opportunities of all kinds to make a positive difference in the day of a friend, a neighbor, or a stranger.

Today, I’m thinking about opportunities. I want to take the blinders off and see opportunities that present themselves to pass Jesus’ love and grace forward.

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 10

A cup of cold water

“This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.” Matthew 10:42 (MSG)

Like a lot of people, I often find my brain falling prey to our popular and consumerist culture when it comes to doing things for God. The needs are so great and I’m just one more boogerhead on the bus trying to find my way home. I find myself thinking “If I want to do something for God, then it needs to be huge, attract hoardes of people and garner plenty of public attention.” Go big or go home, as the saying goes.

And so, I dream of great things I could do… and do nothing.

I love todays chapter because I can place myself in the shoes of Jesus’ young, inexperienced apprentices (Interesting thought: contrast Jesus instructions with what Donald Trump would instruct). As Jesus instructs them on what they should do, He is talking to me as well. When I read the chapter as if He’s sending me out personally to Otley or Leighton, it takes on a whole new layer of meaning.

When my life feels overwhelmed with too much to do, I often make my task list and focus on starting with one small, manageable item on the list. Then I go to the next item on the list, and then the next, and so on. When I’m overwhelmed by the big picture, I focus in on one small task. I saw Jesus same prescription in today’s chapter. Start with one random act of kindness, one kind word, one opportunity to lend a hand. Then look for another, and another.

Today, I’m looking for one small opportunity to do something for someone else.

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