Intentional Acts of Kindness

Something really sweet happened when I was grocery shopping with my daughters a few days ago. As we were exiting the store with a cart full of groceries, my 3-month-old decided she was uncomfortable and was going to let everyone know about it.

As Christians, we’re accountable for intentionally serving others. However, we’re not accountable for how people respond to our offers of help.

Her cries continued to escalate as I arrived at my car and unlocked my trunk. As this was happening, two ladies pulled into the parking space next to mine and exited their car. They paused as they passed behind me and asked if they could help me load the groceries into my trunk.

My initial thought was to politely say “no thank you” and assure them that I would be just fine on my own. It quickly occurred to me that this was foolish. I had a hungry toddler asking for a snack, a screaming infant strapped to my chest in a Moby Wrap, and a cart brimming with groceries. What reason did I have to decline their offer of help?

I ended up accepting their assistance and I thanked them when they were finished. I felt so encouraged as we parted ways and I drove home! Though their act of kindness was incredibly simple, it made such a positive difference in my day.

How many times have I passed up opportunities to help others in a similar fashion? Though I wish it weren’t true, sometimes I don’t offer to help because it will inconvenience me. Many times, though, I think about offering but hold back because I’m concerned about how the offer will be received. In our “mind your own business” culture, offers of help are often perceived as intrusions and you are sometimes assumed to have an ulterior motive if you offer assistance.

I remember being met with harsh words and a brief lecture one time after I offered to help a woman sitting in a motorized scooter to reach an item on a high shelf at the grocery store. I remember another time when a mom and dad quietly chided me after I assisted their daughter who was about to close her fingers in a door. Perhaps it seems silly, but these responses have stuck with me.

In thinking through this, I’ve remembered that I shouldn’t be concerned with how others perceive my offers of help (Galatians 1:10). I’m not accountable for how people respond; however, I am accountable for making the offer of help (Matthew 25:34-40, James 2:14-17). Furthermore, as Christians, we shouldn’t approach helping others casually. We shouldn’t wait to help someone until we’re randomly inspired (so-called “random” acts of kindness); we should be alert for and actively seek opportunities to serve others (Matthew 5:14-16, Philippians 2:4).

Because of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we tend to think a lot about serving and generosity during the months of November and December. Will you join me in using these holidays as reminders to engage in intentional acts of kindness?

Shared at the following:

Monday’s Musings, Coffee and Conversation, Grace and Truth, Tuesday Talk, Faith Filled Wednesday, Moments of Hope, and The Art of Homemaking.

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Comments

  1. Shannon, thank you for calling us on to this challenge! You have such a good point, and I agree wholeheartedly. I also think it’s cool that you start out with a story of accepting help from others. I think it’s really easy (being a rather independent sort of person) to think that I can do it all myself, and not accept assistance from other people. But, just as we need to be kind to others, I think we also need to allow others to be kind to us and help us out.

    • The incident certainly gave me a lot to think about, AnneMarie. I often overlook the fact that others sometimes have a genuine desire to help and are able to put their faith into action by doing this.

  2. Love this. I struggle accepting help, and I think this often holds me back from offering it. What a great reminder of how we are called to serve others at every opportunity.

    • Hi Catherine,
      I hadn’t given much thought to this previously, so it’s good to realize it and be able to work on it.

  3. Keep loving, friend! I, too, have trouble accepting help but it is a gift to let others give, too. I’m sorry about the rebuffs you’ve had with your offers – but don’t give up trying!

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I have vivid memories of shopping cart wars with 4 kids in tow, so when I see a struggling mum, my heart goes out to her. I always hold back on offering help, never knowing whether it’s wanted — and being a coward, I don’t want to be rebuffed. I think I’m going to change my policy.

    • I’m a coward, too, Michele. So many times I’ve held back, fearful of if my offer of help will be accepted.
      It’s so freeing, isn’t it, to remember that we aren’t responsible for the response? We’re only responsible for offering to help. I’m still learning to be bold in doing this, but I love feeling free–regardless of if my offer is rebuffed or not.

  5. This is such a beautiful reminder to be available and be present. I am grateful you shared about my reactions to the way others receive my offer and why that should not affect the next time I am called to help. This was perfect as I love to give of myself when God calls me to do just those things the women did for you and you did for others. Thanks.

  6. Hi Shannon,
    It’s such a shame that you heard harsh words after reaching out in kindness, but I’ve been there, too. I think it is the enemy’s way of trying to get us to shut down and not reach out in service to others! I’m so glad you are walking in victory and sending the enemy packing with this post!!!! Thanks so much for sharing hope at #MomentsofHope!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

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