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“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

Have you ever found yourself in the position of buying a ‘gift’ for someone under obligation? It’s not that you don’t like the person, or that you have no desire to be kind, it’s just that the gift you are looking for is out of ‘expectation’ rather than passion. Maybe it’s not a gift. Maybe it’s some other act of kindness. Rather than random acts of kindness we often perform random acts of obligation.

There is no joy in obligatory giving. It can leave us feeling violated, taken advantage of or used. We feel controlled and manipulated by the person we are buying the gift for and it’s easy to become bitter, angry and alienated.

Sometimes people see God as an obligatory giver.  We see him as a controlling, manipulative being who is really intent on making our lives miserable and that we live in constant fear of his wrath. We see him as a being that is constantly looking for our sacrifice to prove our allegiance to him. It’s sad to say, but sometimes, organized religion has either intentionally or unintentionally propagated that idea by placing rules and regulations on how we act or making demands on our time and money.

In the middle of Jesus’ teaching on worry he gives us a picture of his Father that we should never forget. Jesus likens the Father’s love and care of us to his watch care over nature. The birds don’t worry about their next meal; the flowers burst forth to show their beauty without worrying about how the wind blows.

Then He says “Don’t be afraid little flock”. Pay attention to that phrase because it is a term of affection, endearment and protection. As the good shepherd Jesus knew that sheep would wander aimlessly into danger without guidance and leadership. While some want to paint God as a being who is, at best, hesitant to bestow his blessings and is angry or begrudging in showing kindness, Jesus says the opposite is true. He tells us God’s actions towards us aren’t based on his power, which he certainly has a right to do, but on his love for us.

The next phrase in this verse is important because it tells us of the very character of God. Don’t be afraid little flock because “your father is pleased’ to give you the kingdom. Did you catch that? The Father, the Creator God of the universe is pleased to give you the kingdom. God doesn’t hold back; He doesn’t give grudgingly. He is pleased, honored and looking forward to bestowing on us his good pleasure.

The problem is, sometimes we seek only the physical blessings of life. We seek the three R’s of riches, relationships and religion. We tell ourselves we are ‘blessed if we have a healthy bank account and retirement plan. We are blessed if we have a strong family relationship. We are blessed if we attend the right church.

While all these things can point to God’s blessings, God’s true blessings come through a healed heart, a contented soul and a hope built on the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ. We have a God who takes great pleasure in giving us all the blessings of his kingdom; blessings of forgiveness, hope and peace of heart.

PRAYER: Father God, as I think of that phrase “it is your pleasure to give me your blessings’, I’m in awe. I’m so undeserving of your grace. I fail you daily. I hurt others and ultimately myself by my actions. I forget what is truly important in life. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for taking great pleasure in blessing me with your kingdom through Jesus Christ. Amen.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “Acts 20:35

A woman suffering from hemorrhaging for over a decade touches His robe and is healed immediately. A man sits alone beside a pool that represents his only hope for healing, for 38 years until He shows up and heals him. A man born blind is given the opportunity to see the faces of those who have cared for him for his entire life when mud is put on his eyes and his eyes are opened.

The life of Jesus Christ was life full of doing acts of kindness in the lives of people around Him. Every act of kindness that we have recorded in the Bible involves Jesus meeting not only the spiritual needs of the people but also their physical and emotional needs. His acts of kindness reached beyond the person healed to friends and family members who rejoiced along side their now-healthy loved one.

Today we call acts of kindness ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ but there should be no ‘randomness’ in our acts of kindness for the Christ-follower. The word ‘random’ is defined by Webster as ‘a haphazard course without definite aim, rule, direction or method. But if we are to answer the question ‘What Would Jesus Do’ we need to follow the example he set forth.

Jesus’ “Acts of Kindness’ were anything but ‘random.’ Jesus always reached out for the weak, the struggling and the poor, not the strong. Jesus always met the emotional and physical needs as well as the spiritual needs. Jesus went out of His way to meet with those who needed His touch and often at the expense of his own comfort. Jesus was more interested in relationship than recognition. As a result He would often tell those He healed to ‘Go, sin no more and don’t tell people what I’ve done.’ Finally, Jesus’ actions always pointed towards relationships, not religion.

Jesus wasn’t interested in what church people went to. He wasn’t interested in how they got into the condition they were in, what political views they held or any of the other things we label people by. Jesus’ goal in life was to make the lives of those He touched better after He touched them.

As Christ-followers we have the same mission. We aren’t random in our kindness. The way we treat people on a daily basis should be the way Jesus treated people. Make their lives better simply because they have been with us.

That’s not easy to do when we are cut-off in traffic by someone too busy texting to pay attention; when the only thing worse then the service in the restraint is the service; when our spouse/children/parents seem intent on making our lives miserable; when the choices we’ve made continue to haunt us.

Today, resolve to show ‘Deliberate Acts of Kindness’ to those around you. Be intentional in your love. Reach out to the weak. By God’s grace and with the power of His Holy Spirit, show the love and kindness of Christ in every situation. By giving kindness you will reap the reward of personal blessing.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank you for the examples you gave of kindness to people around you. I confess that my acts of kindness are random and not intentional. Empower me to show Deliberate Acts of Kindness to those around me, especially those I find offensive so that I can show Your love to others. In Your name I pray, Amen.

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February 2023
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