It should be understood by all of God's children that He expects us to do encouraging deeds! He expects us to imitate His Son (cf. I Cor. 11:1), and Jesus "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38) and so should we! According to Paul in Ephesians 2:10 - "We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Paul reminds us in Titus 3:1 "to be ready for every good work."
Friends, please realize that encouraging deeds do not have to be grand gestures in order to be appreciated and worthwhile. Gifts don't have to be expensive in order to be appreciated. The same is true with encouraging deeds. Our society is obsessed with big things (like buildings, businesses, salaries, etc.). The problem with this attitude, however, is that it can blind a person to the importance of small things. Little things to men may be the big things in God's eyes! Don't despise "the day of small things" (Zech. 4:10)! God can make the influence of little things felt in a big way (like the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, for instance, which started as a meal for one). If you feel like you can't contribute much to benefit the life of someone else, just do what you can and let the Lord work through you. Wouldn't you agree that the smallest effort is better than the greatest excuse?
What are some small acts of kindness that you can be doing for others? Consider these suggestions from Aubrey Johnson (but certainly don't limit yourself to these): teach children God's word, pray with the sick, send a note of encouragement to a bereaved widow, give a hug to the courageous brother who publicly repented of sin, provide a home-cooked meal for a neighbor or visitor, hand sew an item for a newborn, open the car door for your wife, surrender all rights to the remote control, leave the closest parking space for a stranger and the comfortable recliner for your guest, happily wash dishes so others can relax and read the paper, and make coffee for others when you arrive first at work. The possibilities are endless, but you've got to think and then do!
Johnson, on pages 102-103 in The Barnabas Factor, offers ten exceptionally good guidelines for encouraging others via acts of kindness. Allow me to share them with you at this time:
- Value yourself.
Every Christian has something worthwhile to give, and you are no exception (cf. I Cor. 12:14). Accentuate your unique skills and talents. Don't think for a minute that you are incapable of encouraging others through your actions.
- Don't barter.
Always give expecting nothing in return (cf. Luke 14:14). Don't encourage others via good deeds with strings attached.
- Start early.
Get started the moment your feet hit the floor. Don't procrastinate or the day and its opportunities will slip you by (cf. John 9:4).
- Begin at home.
Don't treat strangers better than your own family. Make home your encouragement laboratory and experiment freely (cf. Luke 15:11-32).
- Act quickly.
When a warmhearted impulse hits you, act on it right then (cf. Acts 24:25). Otherwise, it may dissipate and a wondrous moment could be lost forever.
- Be alert(cf. John 9:39).
Opportunities to encourage are nearly always present to the discerning eye. See with your heart and they will materialize around you.
- Enjoy giving.
Encouraging is one of life's greatest but must underappreciated pleasures. Savor the moment as God's gift to you (cf. Phil. 4:4).
- Redeem time.
Too many precious minutes are wasted that could be put to good use (Eph. 5:15,16). Take advantage of waiting rooms and long lines.
- Respect everyone.
Above everything else on earth, prize people, and treat the very least with the same dignity you would afford Jesus (Matt. 25:40).
- Think small.
Quit waiting to perform headline-grabbing heroics. Be practical, not pretentious. Seize the small!
These guidelines are wonderful, are they not? Let us labor to implement them in our lives daily!