the Butterfly Effect

One morning, I decided to go to the gym. On my way in, I didn’t have my membership card, so I went outside to find it. It wasn’t in my car, so I retraced my steps and finally found it on the ground.  I was on my way in again when I realized that I forgot to grab my water bottle from the car as well. So again, I went back out to get that from my car. Finally, I had made it inside, and headed towards the door of the equipment room. I noticed a lady in a wheelchair was almost at the door, so before going in myself, I held it open for her to come out. Typically, people say a quick thank you and carry on with their day when you hold the door for them. However, this lady started to tell me how thankful she was that I was standing there, and that she had just prayed that God would send someone in time to open the door for her since she couldn’t. All I did was open a door, but after that encounter, I couldn’t stop thinking about how if I hadn’t lost my keys or forgotten my water bottle, I would have missed that opportunity to open the door specifically for this woman. I believe everything happens for a reason, even when ONLY God knows what that reason is. I believe that this experience was an example of God working to give me an opportunity to be kind to a stranger, and working to answer that lady’s prayer through me. Imagine how many other times we’ve held doors for people or picked up a dropped item for someone who had their hands full. Small actions can cause large effects. This is called the butterfly effect. Being kind to people is one of those actions, whether it be through your word or works, that you are never truly aware of the impact it’ll have.

It’s easy to be kind to your friends, or family, or people you like, but how easy is it to be kind to someone that you don’t like? How easy is it for you to be kind to your irritating co-worker or mean boss? Is it easy to be kind to your annoying brother or sister? What about the friend that hurt you and caused you pain in the past? How about that person you know is spreading rumors about you? Are you kind to non-Christians? What about people who consider themselves homosexual or are involved in other sinful behaviors ? How hard is it for you to give spare change to a homeless person begging on the side of the street or who approaches you at the gas station, without automatically assuming they’ll just use it for drugs or other substances? These are all questions I ask myself. It’s easier to be kind to people you know or love, BUT that’s not what God has called us to do as Christians, because that’s not what Jesus did.

In the Bible, kindness is one part of the fruit produced from being filled with the Spirit of God as mentioned in Galatians 5:22. Jesus was the ultimate example to follow in being kind. He spent time with sinners like thieves, prostitutes, hypocritical pharisees , gentiles, and even sick people with contagious diseases.  Jesus was so full of love and kindness that He died for the very people that hated Him and were willing to even crucify Him. And what is even more surprising is that He chooses to spend time and listen to the needs of people like you and me. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, but how beautiful is it to have someone like Him who is so full of kindness and graces that He CHOOSES to love us through our faults.  In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus says, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” To be able to love your enemies, One has to be kind.  Otherwise we are not truly reflecting the nature of our savior.  We are not being Christ-like when we are only kind to people who look and act like us.  

In Luke 10: 29-37, we see the story of the Good Samaritan, who stopped and went out of his way to help a man who was hurt and alone. A priest, a religious leader, and a levite walked by and they saw him on the ground bruised up and in pain, but pretended like they didn’t see him. Only the Good Samaritan, who was on a journey and likely had an end destination in mind, put it on hold to show kindness to a man by treating his wounds and finding him a place to stay with money from his own pocket.  What beautiful example of showing kindness. It’s important to understand that kindness is different from another fruit of the spirit known as goodness. Goodness is doing right in our actions and straying from evil where kindness is a quality and demeanor expressed in our actions to show people we care. It’s the intention of being generous and going out of our way to show someone love, even if they may not deserve it or don’t reciprocate it back to us. Our goal should be to achieve a heart full of pure kindness for ALL people, and this is something that only develops and takes root in our hearts over time as we become more in tune with the Holy Spirit.

Ultimately, we are not deserving of any of the love, grace, mercy or kindness shown to us by our Heavenly Father.  The sad truth is that time and time again, even after experiencing the kindness of our God, we fall into sin and reject Him.  This calls for true repentance on our part in taking lightly the kindness of God towards us. There’s a popular phrase about kindness, “Kill them with Kindness.” This does not mean you are killing anyone or causing harm, but it means that, when someone is causing you trouble or pain, you don’t express how upset you really are, instead you show them kindness with your words and actions. We do this because of the kindness the Father continues to show us, despite our failures and mistakes. God is kind to us every moment of every day. He gives us the breath in our lungs to wake up. He provides us with food and a safe home. He protects us while we drive. He helps us at work and at school. Every little thing in existence in our lives is a result of the never ending kindness and love that God has for us.

I would like to challenge you if you are struggling in this area of kindness to be intentional about practicing it with the people that make it hard, or even strangers. Pay for someone’s meal or drink behind you in the drive-thru. Tip your waiter or waitress better than you usually do. Get your boss coffee. Let your sister borrow your clothes. Be kind to your parents when they ask too many questions or yell at you. No act of kindness will ever be too small. If you aren’t ready to take any of these actions with your kindness, start with prayer because that’s the most important action. Talk to God about it and pray for the people that make it hard for you to be kind. With time, God will heal your heart, fill it with love, and produce the fruit within you. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who alone can produce this fruit in abundance in our lives.  Let’s look to Him for help.

Proverbs 3:3-4  Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.

Book your tickets