The Chain Reaction of Kindness | February 10th, 2020
It is 9:30 on a chilly, February morning. Several women begin to enter into a brightly lit room where they will be spending the day, designing and creating at their work tables and sewing machines. They have been volunteering together since 2004, producing hundreds of handmade, quality products to give hope to people in need.
They call themselves SILK…Sewing in Love for the Kingdom. The name has profound meaning behind it…
“Like God’s silk threads, when we gather to glorify God by serving others with our creative gifts, we are woven together by the Lord into a tapestry of His love that covers hurting people.”
God impressed upon them how messages of kindness from others are incredibly healing, creating a chain reaction of ideas. Over the years, they have generously donated a variety of useful items lovingly sewn, knitted, and crocheted. Hospital placemats and lap quilts, comforting therapy pillows for the elderly, clothing and stuffed animals for the homeless, winter caps and scarves for veterans, receiving blankets, bibs, burp cloths, and soft baby caps for new mothers…their messages of kindness are endless.
While interacting with others, most of us probably try our best to be nice. If people like us, we benefit. It’s how our world works. Kindness, however, is much more than being pleasant and polite. True kindness, as demonstrated by the SILK volunteers, is a caring concern for others, expecting nothing in return.
The Apostle Paul gives a good description of kindness:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
It takes a genuine effort to be kind. Our natural tendency is to be self-centered. Kindness, therefore, is supernatural. It is a fruit of the Spirit – the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life who has chosen to follow Jesus.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a
You cannot produce fruit without Christ. Just as a tree cannot be left alone to bear fruit because it needs to be given water and good nutrients, you need to have an established relationship with Him to develop these qualities in you.
Jesus describes Himself as the Vine in John 15:5:
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
After reading Jesus’ words you may be thinking, Now, wait a minute. I know plenty of people who are not His followers yet still show kindness to others. How can that be if they are not connected to the Vine?
Kind acts are not necessarily fruit. Fruit is only possible when you are connected to Christ because He is the productive Source of it all. Without the Vine, the branch is lifeless.
After a big windstorm, I noticed a huge branch that had broken off of one of the trees in our backyard. It was full of beautiful, thriving green leaves. When I glanced at it the next day, the leaves had turned brown and had all dried out because the branch was no longer attached to its life-connection.
The only way to bear any fruit pleasing to God is by having a life-connection to Him. When your acts of kindness are completely selfless through the help of the Holy Spirit, all of the honor and glory is given to Him. That is what pleases Him most.
Abiding in Christ means that you stay connected to Him. Not only is He abiding in you, but you have a duty as His follower to abide in Him as well. The way you stay connected is by continuing to trust Him as your relationship deepens through prayer and by studying and practicing the truths in His Word. You also stay connected by relying on Him with your dependence, knowing you cannot bear fruit apart from Him.
Kindness Involves Action
The Greek word for kindness is chréstotés (pronounced khray-stot’-ace). One part of its meaning is “usefulness,” making it clear that biblical kindness involves action.
Action not only includes deeds, but also encouraging words of comfort, courtesy, compliments, and even correction when spoken in a kind and loving way. When we ask the Holy Spirit for a kind heart, it overflows into the words we say.
Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24
Showing kindness takes practice. Plan intentional acts of kindness for those God has placed in your life. Actively look around you for opportunities, also known as random acts of kindness. When you see a need, jump on it right then and there.
Here are a few simple ideas…
Offer to run an errand for an overwhelmed or ill friend. Hold the door open for a person with their hands full. Bring a meal over to a family with a newborn. Express your gratitude by writing a note of thanks. Listen, with your full attention, to someone who needs to talk. Buy an extra cup of coffee or breakfast for the homeless person standing outside the door. Text an uplifting Bible verse to a friend who needs some encouragement.
As the Roman Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca once said,
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”
We often miss opportunities because we are too busy, leaving the needs of others to someone else because we just don’t have time. It is important to slow down and make sure there is enough margin in your schedule when you see your chance to show love to someone. God honors those who show kindness!
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21
A Chain Reaction
When you take a moment to compliment someone on their radiant smile, it might create a chain reaction, giving them the confidence to say a kind word to a complete stranger. You never know the impact your actions might have, not only on the person you complimented but also on those around them.
Researchers have discovered that those involved in an act of kindness benefits everyone, even those who stand by witnessing it. The positive effects of kindness within the brain create an emotional state they call “moral elevation,” motivating and inspiring people to act altruistically toward others.
One of the greatest catalysts toward performing acts of kindness came out of the death of Rachel Scott, a devout Christian. She was the first person killed in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.
Because of her increasing commitment to her faith, she was often mocked by her peers. Five of her closest friends had distanced themselves from her. A year to the day before her death, she wrote these words in a letter to a relative:
“Now that I have begun to walk my talk, they make fun of me. I don’t even know what I have done. I don’t even have to say anything, and they turn me away. I have no more personal friends at school. But you know what, it’s all worth it.”
Rachel kept a journal for 16 months before she was killed. The writings found in it inspired the nonprofit Rachel’s Challenge.
She wrote, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
Through Rachel’s Challenge, students all over the world are encouraged to perform acts of kindness, creating a chain reaction. To demonstrate how well this is working at their school, they get to make a loop out of paper every time they do something kind for someone. It is then added to a growing paper chain hanging in a hallway, classroom, or cafeteria.
With over 1.5 million people now involved in Rachel’s Challenge programs, it has been discovered that these “chain reactions of kindness” are a way to decrease bullying and violence, promoting kindness in schools around the world. What a legacy Rachel has left!
The Ultimate Act of Kindness
Jesus also left a legacy, modeling kindness in the most selfless, sacrificial way. When He shed His blood on the cross for our sins, He demonstrated the ultimate act of kindness for all humanity by taking our guilt, shame, and eternal punishment upon Himself, expecting nothing in return.
But God, the One Who saves, showed how kind He was and how He loved us by saving us from the punishment of sin. It was not because we worked to be right with God. It was because of His loving-kindness that He washed our sins away. At the same time He gave us new life when the Holy Spirit came into our lives. Titus 3:4-5
The moment you repent of your sins and accept Jesus as your Savior, He gives you a brand new heart – a heart that desires to be like Jesus. Kindness then becomes easier to demonstrate in a selfless way because you are attached to the Vine, your life-connection for bearing fruit.
In this fast-paced, self-centered world, people are starved for kindness. You never know what sort of chain reaction it will start when you share the love of Jesus by taking the time to slow down and be kind.
A Sparkly Symbol
I recently designed this necklace as a symbol of the chain reaction that occurs when kindness comes from the heart. Like kindness, it has a little sparkle to it:
Whether it be random or intentional, your acts of kindness will make an impact. Look for opportunities every day, wherever you are, to ripen this transformational fruit of the Spirit in you for God’s honor and glory.
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Ask God to make you aware of opportunities throughout the day to show God’s love and kindness to others and for a heart that is willing.
Sparkler #2: Action
Spend time abiding in Christ through prayer and by studying and practicing the truths in His Word so you can maintain a strong life-connection to the Vine with a dependence on Him to bear much fruit.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Try a 10-day challenge to perform either a random or an intentional act of kindness every day. Write it down at the end of the day. If possible, find a friend who will take the challenge with you and discuss the impact it had on each of you and those to whom you were kind at the end of the 10 days.
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