As I was slowly driving through the parking lot of a local big-box retailer on Christmas Eve, I began to read some of the more colorful bumper stickers. Some of them were political while others talked about more philosophical ideas. Some were obscene while others stated the obvious. I did, however, run across one that is an “oldie, but a goodie”.
Anne Herbert, an American journalist and author, wrote a few words on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982. You may not know the name, but you will definitely recognize the quote because it covered the bumpers of many vehicles over time.
She wrote, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”
Later that very thought became the title for her book which was published in February, 1993. In Ms. Herbert’s book, she wrote about people who practiced random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. That book, of course, went on to inspire the bumper sticker and a children’s book.
What seemed so apparent as a life lesson, people thought of as something brand new. Many were amazed by it. Refrigerator magnets with this phrase appeared in gift and souvenir shops all across the nation.
The interesting thing about her quote is that it truly is a very basic principle that we should do daily. It is nothing new or alien to us. We should be kind to one another and marvel at the beauty around us all the time. The simple lesson of her quote should be obvious to each of us.
As I was thinking about that bumper sticker, I began to reflect on another simple lesson similar in nature, but written long ago. This lesson comes from the Bible and tells us to do more than just practice acts of kindness. We should be motivating one another to do the same.
In chapter ten of the Book of Hebrews, the author writes, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
As we approach the end of the year and look to the new one, we should encourage one another to act out of love and do good works. Looking back at the past year, we saw acts of violence, hatred and fear. The headlines of newspapers, news programs and websites seemed to use one or more of those three words. Everyday we would hear yet another story of someone lashing out at another. Instead of coming together in a time of global crisis, violence, hatred and fear separated us.
During this pandemic, we should have encouraged one another to act out of love and to do good for one another. Don’t get me wrong. There were many acts of selflessness and kindness from first responders, healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters, truckers and all those who kept our grocery shelves stocked. Each day there were stories of those brave individuals like UPS and Fedex drivers who continued to deliver packages, including packages with medication. Postal workers who continued to deliver our mail. Farmers, ranchers, meat packers, distributors and so many more kept food on our tables. All of them together kept our nation and others going.
But, all the good, heartwarming stories were far outweighed by senseless acts of violence and hatred. Instead of motivating one another to do good out of love, many chose to lash out and destroy. Small businesses were burned and so many people were hurt or killed. The news was filled with more and more stories of violence. For me, it got to a point when I just turned off the television and tried not to concentrate on the evil of the world.
I responded by helping a person return a grocery cart or climb up on a shelf to help someone get a bottle of detergent. If we would just reach out to one another in love and do one single simple act of good, things would be so much different. In time, we would be doing good things all the time and encouraging others to do the same. It is amazing how just doing one thing can snowball into an avalanche of goodness and love.
As you prepare yourself for the new year, I ask each of you to resolve to do good out of love and expect nothing in return. If we just make it a point to do just one good thing, it will become a habit and, over time, habit makes us do it all the time.
Jesus, in chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew, said, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
When you practice to be that light and let your good deeds shine for others to see, not for personal glory but for the glory of our Heavenly Father, I can assure you that you can stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.