In Part 2, I described my concept of Type A care and kindness.
Type B care and kindness is the sprinkling of encouragement, appreciation, and praise where the need may not be visible. This kind of care and kindness operates on the law that every human being needs encouragement. No one is so brilliant, so accomplished, gorgeous, rich, old, or famous that he or she doesn't need a gift of moral support from a fellow human being.
The great opera singer Luciano Pavarotti says he carries a favorite positive newspaper clipping in his wallet. Before a concert he reads it to bolster his confidence. Even one of the most accomplished singers alive reaches for small words of encouragement.
A friend of mine arrived at church early for a meeting, so she sat in her car listening to the radio. Someone pulled in and parked next to her. My friend turned and smiled. A few minutes later there was a knock on her window. It was the person she'd smiled at. "Thank you for smiling," she said, "I've had some very bad news today, and your smile just lifted my spirits." Even a smile can be healing.
Everyone needs simple acts of care and kindness, all the time. And everyone has loving qualities to give that will help — even if it's only a smile.
RISKY BUT REWARDING
As Jesus died for us, we are called to die for others. We "die for another" when we set aside our fears, busyness, claims of inadequacy, and other excuses and then go, speak, act, call, write, show up. Sure, there is some risk. Rebuff is possible; weariness is also likely. Embarrassment can happen. But a risk-free life isn't worth living. The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) can be seen as a strong message to avoid the too-careful life; it teaches that blessing follows extending ourselves.
Imagine Christ-followers pouring out of church on Sunday, each determined to brighten at least one life every day of the week. What if at least a few minutes of the worship service were devoted to a fervent call for Jesus' people to go into the world with a care-and-kindness agenda?
I think all of us are eager to make a difference in this world, to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. Acts of care and kindness, daily, everywhere, toward everybody allow the Holy Spirit to come through your life. An act of kindness is God's healing love at work in the world.
Everybody has the capacity to love and to show care and kindness. The apostle Paul says, "Weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15, NRSV). We can all care that way. Paul provides us with a list of exhortations about helping and supporting others:
Scripture includes dozens more similar admonitions, calling us to loving-kindness. Starting within the body of Christ, these acts can spread through our communities like a tsunami of goodwill.
A common biblical phrase goes like this: "Their cry for help went up to God. God heard their groaning and rescued them." That is God's nature. As God's imagebearers we are to be like God, responsive and helping.
It is time we intentionally let God's Spirit radiate. Doing so requires determination, a decision to help brighten the world everyday, everywhere.
I am convinced that a word of appreciation to a weary cashier in a grocery store will reinforce her confidence that there is goodness in this world. Goodness equals God-ness. An encouraging sentence builds hope in the heart, and hope is the confidence that God cares.
Care and kindness come from God. As 1 John 4:7 says, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."
With Christ as our example, with his Spirit fueling us, determined believers can change the world for the better. It's time for individual followers of Jesus to be seen living their faith.