In Romans 12, Paul instructs the Christian believer, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them!” and then he goes on to describe what love looks like. It looks a lot like kindness to others!
I believe the Church needs to talk a lot more about kindness!
We’ve weathered perhaps the most difficult 12-14 months many of you will experience in your life with the Covid pandemic, shutting down businesses, schools, sports programs, a summer of racial tension and protests, a trial with a Milwaukee policeman convicted of murder, and political turmoil and angst like I’ve never seen – and we’ve seen a lot since the fight for Civil Rights along with the Vietnam era and 9-11. And just to be sure the recent winter didn’t miss out on bringing chaos, a freezing ice storm that brought electrical outages and flooding conditions came as “the plagues” kept coming!
All these experiences, one piled on top of the other, creating deep stress and short tempers nation-wide, and I found myself thinking a lot more about kindness these days.
Acts of kindness are so important! Small, timely, private and without fanfare – they are worth more than their weight in gold!
On an ordinary winter day in 1961, an MIT meteorologist named Edward Lorenz ran some routine experiments and found some unusual results. Lorenz discovered that seemingly tiny and insignificant changes in his data could produce huge differences in large, complex weather patterns.
Lorenz and other scientists later used a simple term to describe this phenomenon, “the butterfly effect.” In 1972, Lorenz presented a scientific paper entitled “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” According to Lorenz’s theory, the butterfly’s wing-flapping doesn’t actually cause a tornado, but it can start a chain reaction leading to giant changes in world-wide weather patterns. In others words, even tiny, insignificant movements or actions can produce huge changes that affect millions of people.
From a Biblical perspective, there is a similar “butterfly effect” for the spiritual life. According to Jesus, when we do small things — like making a meal, visiting the sick, befriending the lonely, opening our home to a guest, praying with a friend — for “insignificant” people, we make a huge difference in God’s eyes. According to Jesus, there’s also a reverse butterfly effect: consistently failing to display small acts of kindness, or living an unkind lifestyle, can leave a profound loss of opportunity in the spiritual realm.
I can remember the impact of what was like “a little flap of the butterfly’s wings” in my life, when a guest minister at our home church spoke directly to a young boy after worship, “Don’t ever forget that God loves you.” That remark stayed with me a long time, reassuring me that God’s love was great enough that He could redeem a rotten tomato like me!
Small acts of kindness may seem insignificant – but I’m convinced that the most insignificant thing I do may be the most significant thing I do! By that, I mean that some good thing I do, far from the attention of anyone else, far from the spotlight of those who know me, far from those who may pay my salary, may be the most important thing I do – because it changed the course of one person’s day, one person’s attitude, or one person’s life!
We may never know the value of our kindness, but someone once said: “The greatest feats of love are performed by those who have had much practice in performing daily acts of kindness.” – Anonymous
Romans 12:21 – Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.