Small Acts of Kindness

Thank you God for little things
that often come our way
The things we take for granted,
but don’t mention when we pray
The unexpected courtesy,
the thoughtful, kindly deed,
A hand reached out to help us
in the time of sudden need
Oh make us more aware, dear God,
of little daily graces
that come to us with “sweet surprise”
from never-dreamed-of places.

~ Helen Steiner Rice

It was a little over 11 p.m. when my Air France flight arrived at the airport for a short transit before continuing its flight onward to Paris. As I stepped out of the plane into the terminal, a well-dressed older gentleman, who was a fellow passenger, tried to strike a conversation with me. He looked a bit tired and confused as he politely spoke French with me. He couldn’t speak English and I knew only a few words of French, so I could only guess what was happening. He seemed concerned that he could get lost in the unfamiliar and big international airport and would miss the flight onward to Paris.

I welcomed him to tag along with me and so he did. Wherever I went, he was never far from me. He never took his eyes off me either, although he never interfered with whatever I was doing. He reminded me of how I myself watched over my kid whenever we went to the playground. I let her explore and had fun.  Sometimes she fell or bumped into another kid. And that is okay. If she was fine, I let her be. If she needed my help, I was there in an instant.

He also reminded me of God who is ever present and ever watchful for me, but never in my face. I know God is always there to protect and help me, but I don’t necessarily feel or see him unless I look for him.

Back to my story: After browsing in a bookstore, I decided to go back to the gate. A bit before the gate, there were some empty seats on a bench nearby. The old gentleman gestured for us to sit there.

I could have gone around the terminal to window shop some more, but, instead, I decided to sit along the gentleman. And no, we still could not strike any conversation, so we just sat there.

It seems like a trivial thing to have done, but I’d like to think that I had made his trip a touch more comfortable by being there for him. I did not plan for it, but I felt a certain tug in my heart to welcome the gentleman as I did. As followers of Jesus, it should be natural for us to be God’s extended hand and show acts of kindness to others, even to strangers. (I never found out his name and I never saw him again after we went into the plane and landed in Paris.)

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
–Luke 10:33-34 (ESVUK)

I thought about this whole thing and wondered what God was trying to teach me. And I concluded this: Don’t just be the receiver of other people’s kindness, but also be the one who gives kindness to people around us. Instead of just thanking God “for little things that often come our way,” be the “little things” that others give thanks to God for. And if we are not willing to cheerfully do small acts of kindness, it would be even more difficult when God calls us to do big acts of kindness.

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
–Matthew 25:21, 23

Kindness requires practice, and “practice makes perfect.”

Slamet Hendry
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