“Random Acts of Kindness”

Sep 11, 2022

The Scripture

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”[a]

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

The Sermon

Random acts of kindness. Do these acts really do anything? Does it make a difference in someone’s life? Why bother going the extra mile, giving that extra hug, making that phone call…why bother? Why be generous with your time and resources? Kate Bowler knows something almost mysterious arises from acts of kindness and generosity, something unexpected. She gives a blessing at the end of her chapter titled Kindness Boomerangs that helps to answer the “why bother” question. Hear this, “Blessed are you who have tasted how good it is to bless, who has paused in wonder at the strange math where it is in giving that we receive. As we give, we see a tiny resemblance to our God, the Giver of Life. Blessed are we, who, in giving, is being drawn closer. We begin to see life in relation to where God shows us we belong. We live more and more out of that inheritance we received through Jesus Christ, who gave his body. A real body that ours might not die.” This idea of the blessings from generosity and kindness is rooted in our faith and found abundantly throughout the scriptures. 

Kate Bowler shares a story about her own parent’s act of kindness. Every year on their anniversary, they would go out to dinner, and while eating, they would pick out a target, someone else eating at the restaurant, and they would conspire with their waiter to pay for that table’s meal. This was the trick. They had to time everything so that they would be gone from the restaurant when this surprise would be discovered by the restaurant guests. Kate said, “There is something about this type of kindness that reverberates. Not only is it something my parents look forward to each year, but the servers also get in on it, and hopefully, the person on the receiving end bumps their toe on goodness for a change. It is a strange kind of magic. It feels good to be kind. Even when it’s done in secret. 

I love this story of a random act of kindness. I don’t think we realize how vital this kindness is or what a difference it can make in the lives of others. Last week, the New York Times published an article titled “The Unexpected Power of Random Acts of Kindness.” Here is a story of kindness. “In late August, Erin Alexander, 57, sat in the parking lot of a Target store in Fairfield, Calif., and wept. Her sister-in-law had recently died, and Ms. Alexander was having a hard day. A barista working at the Starbucks inside the Target was too. The espresso machine had broken down, and she was clearly stressed. Ms. Alexander —who’d stopped crying and gone inside for some caffeine—smiled, ordered an iced green tea, and told her to hang in there. After picking up her order, she noticed a message on the cup: “Erin,” the barista had scribbled next to a name, “your soul is golden.” “I’m not sure I even necessarily know what ‘your soul is golden’ means, said Ms. Alexander, who laughed and cried while recalling the incident. But the warmth of that small and unexpected gesture from a stranger who had no clue what she was going through moved her deeply. Interestingly, this article found that new findings show “that people who perform a random act of kindness tend to underestimate how much the recipient will appreciate it. And they believe that miscalculation could hold many of us back from doing nice things for others more often.” 

Now so far, we’ve been talking about random acts of kindness not really related to one’s faith…we’ve been talking about how it makes the receiver feel and the giver feel, but if we look at random acts of faith from a faith perspective it takes us right to our scripture passage. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth due to some serious problems the church is facing. Paul is facing challenges from some false teachers. Some questioned Paul about his authority; others questioned his use of the money they had raised to care for those in need. In the passage, Paul outlines the benefits of generous giving…which I consider acts of kindness. He says such things as “one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully, God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so you will always have enough of everything so you may share in your abundance, he says God will multiply your seeds and increase your harvest, you will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.” Have you ever realized that when you are generous, when you show kindness to others, you are producing thanksgiving to God? What would you say now if I asked if random acts of kindness have any benefits? You have the ability to make thanksgiving to God with your generous acts of kindness, and today we are going to offer you this opportunity to experience this thanksgiving. Each of you will receive a $100 bill. It has no strings attached, rules, or expectations…let’s be generous and see what harvest we will produce. Put aside the tendency to think it won’t make a difference, don’t question the outcome or the result of your giving. Just open your heart, pray unceasingly, and hand off your $100 to someone in need or not in need. Just give it away! 

Let’s remember Kate’s words, “As we give, we begin to see in ourselves a tiny resemblance to our God, the Giver of Life. Blessed are we, who, in giving, is being drawn closer. We begin to see life in relation to where God shows us we belong. We live more and more out of that inheritance we received through Jesus Christ, who gave his body. A real body that ours might not die.” Amen