By Jim Taylor
Would you like to make a deep and lasting impression for the kingdom on people you meet? You can, and it’s easier than you think. The word impression refers to “a mark or indentation produced by pressure or forceful contact.” After sitting on a lawn chair in a pair of shorts, you might have a web pattern on the backs of your legs when you stand up. Fortunately, this “impression” isn’t a lasting one; it fades quickly, and you forget about it (and your children stop making fun of you).
The kind of impression I’m talking about today is when you come into contact with someone, and you leave a mark that stays with them. According to Scripture, kindness does that. Consider a few examples:
- The tale of Ruth and Boaz is one of history’s great love stories; and it was founded primarily on kindness. Ruth had showed kindness to her mother-in-law, and Naomi wished the same for Ruth (Ruth 1:8). When Ruth traveled to Israel with Naomi, Boaz showed kindness to Ruth and praised her for the way she treated her mother-in-law (2:11-13). Boaz kindly made arrangements for Ruth to glean more easily in the field, to provide for her and Naomi’s needs (2:15-20). As their romance began to blossom, Boaz thanked Ruth for her kindness (3:10-11).
- King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, had great praise for kindness: “A kindhearted woman gains respect” (Proverbs 11:16)—as did Ruth. “A kind man benefits himself” (11:17)—as Boaz did. “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (12:25); through your words, you have the ability to lift the spirits of someone who is down. “Whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (14:31); when we show kindness to others, God counts it as if we had done it to him. “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done” (19:17); there is a special reward for kind acts done for the poor—and they put God in your debt!
- Kindness is mentioned as one of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
- Acts 9 tells the story of Tabitha, a woman known for “abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did” (v. 36, NAS). One of her kindly habits was to make beautiful clothing for those who needed it. Notice that people were still talking about her acts of kindness even after she died! (v. 39) You’ve probably heard similar testimonies at funerals. The fact is, our acts of kindness live longer than we do; they have no expiration date. We’re still talking about Tabitha’s kindness 2,000 years later.
Recently I asked a group of people if they could remember any act of kindness done for them by a stranger. Those who responded recalled incidents of a lost phone being returned, a gift of gloves on a freezing winter evening, a compliment given to a parent, a man who overlooked a fender-bender, and so on. In every case the person who gave the gift of kindness was a complete stranger. . . and the memory of the event was still vivid in their minds weeks, months, and even years later.
Even a small act of kindness done for others has the ability to make a deep and lasting impression. You have the opportunity each day to change someone’s life for the better. . . and it’s easier than you think!