Random Acts of Kindness
The “Random Acts of Kindness” movement started in 1982 by an activist, Anne Berkley from the San Francisco Area. She wrote an article about this in response to an article on senseless violence. The movement took off and gained momentum with a National Random Acts of Kindness Day falling on February 17 each year. “A random act of kindness is a non-premeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world.”
Why do you think this movement has taken off?
Do you think acting kindly towards others is a natural human quality?
There are many quotes about what kindness is:
- Kindness is giving hope to those who think they are all alone in this world.
- Kindness is seeing the best in others when they cannot see it in themselves.
- Kindness is something anyone can give without losing anything themselves.
- Kindness is not what you do but who you are.
Read through the above quotes – which do you agree with? Which don’t you agree with? Discuss.
The Bible mentions “kindness” over 200 times and “kind” over 400 times. God knows that being kind builds up the Kingdom of God rather than tearing it down. It is thinking of others before thinking of our own needs and desires.
In Jeremiah 9:24b (NIV) God says: I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.
Do you think these are qualities that God wants in his people too?
Think over some of the stories in the Old Testament: Creation, Noah’s story, Exodus from Egypt, Wilderness wandering, King David’s story, story of Ruth, Job’s story …
How do you see God exercising kindness, justice and righteousness? (You may wish to break up into smaller groups and discuss these different stories – share as a large group.)
In Jesus, we have an incredible example of kindness to others. He seemed to always pick out the lowest in society or the person most in need to show his love and kindness to. He healed those who were in true need: the leper, the blind, the widow, the prostitute, and the outcasts. He didn’t turn them away because he was above them, but rather he displayed incredible kindness accepting them and healing them both in body and spirit. He even chose as his disciples those who were on the fringes of society – the fishermen, tax collectors, unlearned. Through his teachings Jesus has given us many examples of what we need to do as his disciples in how we act towards others:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22,23a (NIV)
Why does God mention kindness and being kind so much? How is it different from the other fruits of the Spirit?
If you had to come up with a definition of what it means to “be kind”, what would it be?
Read through these Bible verses again on kindness. What is different? What is similar? (May be a good time to chat about this is a smaller group.)
Some of the differences that I have noted is that in the Ephesians text God asks us to do these things.
In the Colossians text, God expects that, because we are his disciples we will want to “clothe” ourselves with these qualities to display to others.
Then in the Galatians text, God has said he has given us these gifts through the Holy Spirit, and they are a part of our whole being that we will want to show as ‘fruits’ of our discipleship.
A story that Jesus talked about being a neighbour and showing kindness to others and those in need, was the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37.
Read this story as a large group.
Focussing on kindness – where do you see the kindness shown by the Good Samaritan?
What makes his kindness so remarkable at that time in the Bible?
What points do you think Jesus is making to the people he told the story to?
How does this story relate to us today?
If you had to do a kindness today, what could you personally do?
Going back to the title of this Bible study, why did the movement surrounding the “random acts of kindness” take off so much? I truly believe that it is within our nature that God created us to be kind to others and to show kindnesses to those around us in the little things we do and say to others each day. With the wickedness of sin and our sinful nature, these little kindnesses are turned inward and become selfishness. God wants us to look beyond ourselves to be kind and help others, that’s why he mentioned it 400 times in the Bible. The movement brought a goodness and thoughtfulness back to people’s lives and they wanted to be kind and show kindness to others. Being kind lightens the heart and brings a positiveness to our lives. God knew that, which is why he wants us to be kind and show love to those around us. It is the way he shines his light through your love and kindness.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NRSV)
Prayer: Our kind heavenly Father, help us to be kind and show love to others that they can see you working through us. You live in us and want us to shine your light. May the example of your Son Jesus, spur us on to acts of kindness. In your name. Amen.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer to finish.