When was the last time you were left speechless, in complete awe of the goodness and kindness of a stranger? The last time someone reminded you of the beauty and hope and joy that is left in this world?
I will never forget the moment when I last felt this. It was just days after my mom had completed her last round of chemo, a brutal battle that consumed all of our lives for six months. To celebrate her life and the closing of a chapter, we did what all girls love to do (especially when doctors forbid you from doing this during chemo): we went out for manicures and pedicures. While we were sitting in the chairs getting pampered, conversation began to flow with the women around us. My mom, who had no hair at the time, struck up conversation about her cancer journey. Different women around us began chiming in, giving their condolences and congratulations.
A woman in her mid 20s — very edgy looking, with facial piercings and tattoos from shaved head to toe — said a few nice words, then went on her way. Moments later, the manager of the salon came to us and told us that the lady with the shaved head had paid for our entire bill. If you know anything about manicures and pedicures, you know they aren’t cheap. Especially when you get the deluxe package for two as we had both done that day. Tears filled our eyes and goosebumps covered our arms and legs. We wanted to run to her and thank her for her kindness and generosity, but the manager told us that she had insisted we didn’t even know who had paid, though the manager took it upon herself to tell us anyways.
In that moment, I was not only humbled and so incredibly thankful, but I also felt deeply convicted. I hate to come off as judgmental in any way, but I did not expect such a kind and heartfelt gift from such an unexpected person. She didn’t do it for praise or recognition or accolades. She simply did it out of the goodness of her heart. She did more for us that day than she will ever know. In that moment, God spoke to me and grabbed a hold of my heart.
As Christians, we tend to spend our time with people that look like us, talk like us, share the same worldview, listen to the same music, and have the same political and social stance, but in doing that, are we really growing the kingdom? Are we making a difference in the world? Are we leaving our mark? Are we showing his love and shining a light? Wherever we go, we are ambassadors of the kingdom of God. That is a huge responsibility given to us by God. Are we taking our jobs seriously and living each moment as if the growth of the kingdom depends on it? Because it does.
In the parable of the good Samaritan, a man is robbed, beaten and left to die. A priest and a Levite see him but pass him by, and an unlikely hero, a Samaritan (a race hated by the Jews), stops to help. How many times have we seen someone in need and just kept walking by as if we didn’t even notice? This could be a homeless person on the streets, a single mom in the grocery store who is counting coins to cover the cost of diapers and formula to feed her baby, a young kid in your child’s class who has holes in his shoes and a winter coat three sizes too small. We see struggle, hardship and suffering all around us, yet too often we do nothing more than walk by or at most, say a small prayer for them. As Christians, we have to stop passing by and start taking action. We are called to do so.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
— Matthew 25:34–40
When we neglect to take care of the people around us, we are neglecting to care for the Lord. Can you imagine seeing him on the street, bleeding, broken and crying out for help, yet doing nothing? Every single time we pass up on an opportunity to help someone, we are doing the same. We can change someone’s perspective, improve their day or even improve their life from the simplest, most selfless acts of kindness. Be the light. Shine your light into the darkness and let his love show through you.