A generous man will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)
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In chapter 12 of Made to Crave, Lysa TerKeurst encourages us to “fill our afternoons with His thoughts of love toward others” instead of wallowing in discouragement or frustration over our struggles.
I love to do things for others. I like visiting with the checkers at Walmart; it seems to cheer them up on particularly busy afternoons. When I’m finished shopping at Aldi, I leave my quarter in shopping cart lock for the next person to find. I secretly pay for a stranger’s meal as I pay for mine. I send cards and little gifts to my friends. I also make meals for friends who are going through a tough time or “just because”.
Did you know that when we do nice things for other people, our bodies produce endorphins, the “feel good” chemical that is also released when we exercise? That is how helping others helps us — it boosts our mood because that’s how God made our wonderfully complex and amazing bodies!
So the next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself because you’ve messed up your diet AGAIN, take those extra cookies you baked and make up a plate or two to leave in your neighbor’s mailbox. When you’ve had an argument with your teen and she’s still not talking to you even though you’ve apologized, put some single serving microwave popcorn packs and apples in a basket and leave them in your office break-room. Down in the dumps because your presentation didn’t go as planned? Make an extra meal when you make your family’s dinner, freeze it and give it to a friend.
I turn 53 in 2 months and I want to do something special. I’ve heard of people doing “random acts of kindness” for the amount of years they’ve lived on this Earth and inviting their friends to do some in honor of their birthday. I would like to do this, but with a different twist.
Instead of RAK or RAOK (random acts of kindness), I would like my friends and family to do AAOK: Anonymous Acts Of Kindness.
You’re probably wondering why anonymous. Acts of kindness should not be about what we do, how much we do, how it makes us feel, or even how it makes the receiver feel. It’s about serving someone else in humility. When it’s done in secret, there’s no strings attached because you don’t know the reactions of the recipient — there’s absolutely no expectations on the behalf of either party.
When you do something kind anonymously, you elevate Christ because you’ve done a good deed in His name. In Matthew 6:1-6, Jesus talked about how we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing when we give to others. I really like how The Message words this:
“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that
you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater,
but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself.
You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘play actors’ I call them—
treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage,
acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds.
They get applause, true, but that’s all they get.
When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks.
Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God,
who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.”
Now, even though these acts of kindness should be random (that means done without a particular plan), you may need to read through some lists just so you’re a little prepared ahead of time — we keep ourselves so busy sometimes that we don’t leave enough room to even think about doing something kind for a stranger. You can do what I do, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you: stopping for someone on the side of the road, offering to help put grocery sacks in the car for an elderly person, let someone go ahead of you in the check out line, etc.
My birthday is April 11th. I hope you’ll follow my blog and join in on celebrating the day with anonymous acts of kindness. Follow this link to my Pinterest board where you can get free printables and lists of kindness acts — many kind acts do NOT require $$. Below are some suggestions you can do now: February 10 – 16 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. Please feel free to share any AAOK’s that you’ll be doing.
*Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant.
*Pay for the meal of the car behind you at the drive thru.
*Give gift cards/cash to a family in need.
*Assist a stranded motorist.
*Leave a GENEROUS tip for your waitress/waiter with a thank note.
*Bring a basket of baked goods and hot chocolate to your animal shelter workers.
*Bring a basket of teas and coffee creamers to a teacher’s lounge.
* Let someone go in front of you in line.
*Help someone with their cart at the supermarket.
*Pick up litter at a park or school, or along your daily walk route.
*Make blessing bags for homeless people.