I was blown away! This man was making such a generous gesture…I know it wasn’t purely selfless…but it certainly was generous and the reason it spoke so clearly to me…it was to benefit my kids. (If you ever want to love a mother well…just be kind to her children.)
I had this under control. My friend’s car battery was dead in the Kroger parking lot and I have a “dummy-proof” jumper cable kit. (It labels exactly how to jump a car with pictures and everything so that you don’t do something stupid and electrocute yourself…perfect for a distractible gal like me!) But before I got the first clamp on the dead battery, a man that I didn’t know walked up and began to help. And then another man walked up and began to help. And then another! In under a minute, my friend’s mini-van was up and running and then all of the men just sort of disappeared…not in a mystical way…but they quietly left as suddenly as they had come to help.
“No, no. That is a mistake. I didn’t pay you that $800 yet.” What?! I sat there staring at him. He is a man who struggles quite a bit financially (is currently working several jobs to support his family) yet, when I made an $800 error in his favor on a transaction, he very quickly pointed out the error and made sure that I didn’t give him credit for paying more than he had.
These three events all happened Monday afternoon. Some of these people I know and some were strangers. Except for one, I don’t really know much (if anything) about how they view God. Yet, all three events were ways that God breathed life and love into me:
– Finances…there aren’t many topics that people find more personal than finances. How much money we have (or don’t have) affects almost every aspect of our lives and allows (or limits) the choices we get to make. Finances impact us strongly because we are confronted with them several time per day. There really isn’t much in our lives that isn’t touched by our current financial situation.
– Kindness…I honestly had the battery-jumping under control. I’ve done this before and, those of you who know me, know that I really pride myself on being an independent and strong woman who loves an opportunity to shock people by defying expected gender roles. (For example, just this week, I worked on projects that required all of these tools: a crochet hook, a power saw, 3-foot long bolt cutters, an impact drill, yarn, a sewing machine, multiple drill bits including several spade bits, and countless other things.) All that to say, I get a lot of satisfaction out of being able to do things myself (kind of like a toddler.) But when these men appeared out of nowhere to help jump my friend’s car, all I could think about was how kind they were to help…not because I needed the help…but because they were willing to offer it so readily. (Think about it…there is no way they were all hanging out in the Kroger parking lot with nothing to do. They were certainly all moving about through their busy day when they saw us and offered help.) These men allowed themselves to put their days on hold just to offer kindness to a stranger.
– Character and Honesty…I had made a large ($800) mistake in this man’s favor. (While this could be grouped with the first occurrence (finances), what touched me the most, was how this man’s character was unwavering. That $800 would have meant a lot more to him that it did to me and he still went out of his way to correct my mistake. (I’ve seen people sell their character cheaply…compromise their values for tiny monetary gain…it seems such a waste to me.) “Your character will always go ahead of you and speak words – good or bad, words will be spoken.” – Gladys Lawson
The point? Well, first, as I have said many times: What you do and think matters. How you treat people matters. AND when you have opportunities to invest in someone else, I think God multiplies your efforts. None of these people were personally costed anything huge. The first and last didn’t take money AWAY from anyone…it just didn’t GIVE them any additional money. The second scenario only cost those men about 60 seconds…but the impact on me was huge because I was so touched that they were willing to stop their day…they SAW us and responded to a perceived need.
All of this just gave me some hope about the state of people’s hearts. In a world full of people who are always “looking out for number one,” it is nice to see kindness…and I would go so far as to say an abundance of kindness. I think we can all contribute to this mission. (Although Christians…please hear this…this is what it looks like to live out the gospel…it’s not just an event…the gospel is meant to be lived and shared through agape (selfless) love.) You don’t have to change all the things you are doing, you just have to change your mindset while you are doing the things you do. Look for opportunities to serve…to bless…to love well.
So, how are you doing with this? Do you often get chances to bless others but find that you aren’t able to? Is your schedule so packed tight that even if you were given a perfect opportunity to minister to someone, you wouldn’t be able seize that opportunity? Are your finances so lacking in margin that you couldn’t minister to someone or…even worse…might be tempted to violate your conscience in order to make some gains? How can you create more space in your time and finances in order to have those resources available for these spontaneous opportunities to love others well? These things can be spontaneous or planned…or even both. How are you loving others well in your life?
My prayer today is that we would seize opportunities to love well…that we would live outside of our own circumstances enough to see the circumstances of others…that in doing so, we would show Jesus to the world. Much love friends,