Love Your Neighbor - Random Acts of Kindness

"O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise Him, all ye people. For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord" (Psalm 117).

"Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the laws and the pro- phets" (Matthew 22:37-40). "There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12-31.

Did you ever believe that in America, "the Christian nation", there could be so much GREED, betrayal, dishonesty, misrepresentation, lying, stealing, swindling, non-caring, etc. (!) among the people we trust the most: our government officials, bankers, home mortgagees, stock brokers, building contractors, repairmen, salesmen, etc. (!)?

Last week, I changed banks because Countrywide Bank is going out of business. When the man at Wachovia Bank handed me the papers to sign -- fine print all over front and back -- I said, "I'm supposed to read all this before I sign. You might have a clause in here that says if I don't spend all my money in 30 days, it is yours!" I was teasing. We laughed. He blushed. I have bought 4 houses, and Jack and I signed everything they handed to us. We trusted their explanations. It's scary to do that now.

My dad was owner of Walter A. Smith Paving Contractors, one of the largest paving contracting businesses in Houston (1941-1997). I was his bookkeeper. He never had any kind of a contract to pave parking lots, driveways, tennis courts -- except with the City of Houston and with Harris County. They required contracts from 1"-2" or more in stacks of pages in length. Dad discussed jobs with owners of property, shook hands and that was bond. He loved the Lord just as Jesus said we should, with all his heart, and he loved his neighbor as himself. Many times an employee questioning his paycheck, would come to Dad saying he worked an extra day, or hours, Dad would have me write another check. No questions, or investigation. He treated all men as being honest men. But when he caught someone stealing from the company, they were fired immediately. Beside the back door leading from the shop into the office was a bulletin board for posters of Bible Scriptures and inspirational thoughts which all employees could see.

Jesus said in John 15:12-14, 17, "This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you…These things I command you, that ye love one another."

Jesus was not saying something new. In Leviticus 19:l,18, "And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying…Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord."
Robert Browning wrote, "'T'was a thief said the last kind word to Christ. Christ took the kindness and forgave the theft."

In the early 1990's, Anne Herbert, a Mill Valley, California writer, coined the credo, "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty." Her idea soon spread all across America as "random acts of kindness." Her followers inscribed this phrase on highway under- passes, bumpers stickers, placemats in restaurants and on checks. This was her answer to the nightly news filled with stories of cities torn apart by random violence. Magazines and news- papers were filled with stories of acts of kindness. I was intrigued by the idea and wrote two manuscripts on the subject in my "Happenings along the Way to Heaven" in 1996. Wonderful; that one women would start an idea and it would reach millions of people! I have three books written on random acts of kindness. Mother Teresa said, "We realize that what we are accomplishing is a drop in the ocean. But if this drop were not in the ocean, it would be missed."
Every act of kindness we commit, sends a ripple out into the world that is magnified by every life it encounters.

I saw two large, beautiful pictures which hang in the National Gallery of Art in Washing-ton, D.C., of the Adirondack Mountains, the Hudson River, flowers, boats and angels. The famous artist was Thomas Cole. Once, a fellow painter died without completing a contract. Cole finished the painting and signed the artist's name so the proceeds would go to his friend's family.
I didn't develop my artistic talent. In Junior High School, we took six-week classes to help determine our careers. I excelled in Newspaper reporting and commercial art. The teacher assigned me to paint a mural on the side room wall. But my mother said NO. These were not "respectable" jobs for women in 1933! I had to be a secretary or bookkeeper! I wrote family newsletters, and saved cartoons and jokes. These were filed in categories, and go back 50 years!

When my son fell off the ladder, broke his foot and went through seven surgeries, I mailed him a joke pasted on post cards every day for over a year! When my sister, Elaine, fell and fractured her spine, I sent her a joke every day on postcards for three months. I recently heard that she entertained her sorority sisters with joke after joke at their Christmas party! For several friends recovering from surgeries, I mailed them apothecary jars filled with plastic Easter eggs containing jokes called "Laughter Pills". These are my "random acts of kindness!"

If you know someone who is going through a bad day or a difficult time in life, make it better by doing something--anything--to let them know someone cares.

My son's next door neighbor, Clarence, barbecues for big family parties, and always sends huge plates, and sides, to Ronnie and Ethel. When Ronnie was helpless from all those foot surgeries, Clarence would take him to doctor's appointments, pick up prescriptions, set out the garbage cans, cut his grass, and fix meals. Everyone should have a neighbor like my son's Clarence and like mine: Mark, Don, Bill, Julie, Trigg and Ray. They really love their neighbors.

I have a musical telephone which plays the song, "I Just Called to say 'I Love You'" which I play sometimes after dialing someone's telephone number to express appreciation.
I have written letters to bosses of store clerks who were especially helpful to me, thanking them for having such a great employee. I "Drive Friendly": Help people change lanes on the freeways; when waiting on red lights, I help people exit from parking lots into my lane; I always help big 18-wheelers change lanes, because I hope folks will do the same for Ronnie, who drove a big rig all over the United States one million miles without an accident. I have left "Pass It On" cards with my tip at restaurants, and somewhere in homes I've visited.

Jack's aunt and uncle owned a florist business in Santa Fe, Texas. They gave me a card that I could take to any wholesale florist in Houston and buy flowers. I decorated interest centers at two churches with flowers every Sunday; took pot plants and huge bouquets to Sunday school class members and others in the hospitals. It was one of my most appreciated and fun ministries. Aunt Mary died in 1989; and Uncle Tommy died in 1993, ending this random act of kindness.
I used to go to a drive-through bank on Navigation Boulevard. While waiting in line, I'd
really enjoy a flower bed in front of a house across the street from the bank. One day I wrote a letter to "Occupant" and expressed my appreciation of the pleasure I enjoyed from their flowers.

While reading a magazine or newspaper, if I read something I think would interest someone else, I clip it and mail it to them; send cartoons in birthday cards, relating to persons.
I have packed a picnic lunch and shared it with someone during their work lunch hour! I keep a camera with me and have taken photos of a highway accident and house fire to send to victims.
Give attention to little children: talk to them; play games with them; brag on them; love them;

I write these random acts of kindness not to brag on myself, but to give ideas to you, because there is no joy that can equal the joy of helping others with good deeds. It is blessed to be a receiver, too. It's blessed to let someone give to you and for you to receive their gift with gratitude and appreciation. "Because it is in giving oneself that one receives; it is in forgetting oneself that one is found; it is in pardoning that one obtains pardon" (St. Francis of Assisi).

Home > Stories > Love Your Neighbor - Random Acts of Kindness