February 10, 2023

Our Works of Charity / David Bethuram

As an image bearer of Christ, make acts of kindness intentional

David Bethuram

Random Act of Kindness Day is being celebrated on Feb. 17 as a way to spread positivity by showing goodwill toward others. But don’t be thrown off by the word “random” because acts of kindness can be very intentional, very biblical, and a perfect opportunity to live like Jesus.

Acts of kindness can be big or small. They can be a blessing to the recipient, the giver, and those who witness the kind gesture. While this special day serves as an important motivator, these unexpected acts can be carried out any day instead of just one day a year. In fact, God calls us to be kind to one another.

Scripture points out ways to spread kindness to those around us and why it’s so important.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Mt 7:12).

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thes 5:11).

In the Bible, we read a lot of stories about Jesus’ ministry. He healed the sick and performed miracles. But what we often fail to see are the lessons he is trying to teach us through those acts.

Let’s not forget that Jesus is a teacher—one of the greatest there is. He used parables and stories to teach us about the kingdom of God. But his greatest method is teaching by example.

Showing generosity to others is also rooted in what it means to be a Christian. Many of our ministries are focused on service and giving. In fact, many Catholics that volunteer in one our Catholic Charities ministries do so because they have learned their words and actions demonstrate mercy for others.

Whether it’s volunteering at a food bank, collecting donations or planning a mission trip, the Church often plays a vital role in helping us carry out intentional acts of kindness.

I firmly believe that kindness is a deep-rooted thing that we carry as image bearers of Christ, and once you start to show kindness, it begins helping you identify who you are in Christ.

If you show people that you truly love them, they can feel it. And if you are consistent with that love, whether by actions or words, people will see the joy loving others gives you. You’ll find that they want that joy, too. Loving on people can be contagious. It feels good to be kind to one another.

Make a meal for a sick friend, give a neighbor a ride to the doctor, call or send a card to someone who lost a loved one, offer a kind word to the cashier … there are countless ways to be kind to others, every day. Be the example of kindness—you will reap the rewards tenfold!

Performing kind acts can generate a positive impact in multiple ways, in addition to making the world a little brighter.

In the end, Jesus said it best when he said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (Jn 13:34-35).

Maybe as Christians, our acts of kindness shouldn’t be just random, but intentional and with purpose.

(David Bethuram is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. You can contact him at dbethuram@archindy.org.) †

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