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Let’s Do Something Kind This Christmas

Written By Kim Cheung, China, Originally in Simplified Chinese

I was on my way home after an evening out with some friends. As I exited the mall, I plugged my earphones in to listen to some music while locating the nearest bus stop.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little grandma begging on the steps. She looked small and frail, and was about 80 years old. She had a white porcelain bowl next to her, which held only two coins. Bags of plastic bottles, clearly collected off the streets, were neatly arranged around her.

Even though she caught my attention, I had no intention of stopping to interact with her. I had grown used to seeing beggars of every age group in my home town, and had heard too many stories of how some of these beggars would cheat people out of their money, that I’ve subconsciously grown to think that all of them are frauds—and this grandma was no different. Furthermore, my mind was preoccupied with my own needs and my own problems that needed solving.

But for some reason, something tugged in my heart and I felt moved to retrace my steps and talk to the grandma. At the same time, I battled with an internal struggle: if she’s simply lying, wouldn’t I be wasting my time? After all, it was almost nine in the evening . . .

In the end, I followed my heart’s urging and walked back to her. I didn’t have cash on me, so I walked up to her and asked, “Have you eaten yet?” This time, I saw her face more clearly. She was so very skinny. The wrinkles on her face seemed to be deeply etched, and her mouth looked entirely sunken in—maybe because she did not have many teeth.

She stared up at me in surprise for a moment, then replied, “Not yet.”

I then told her, “I do not have cash on me at the moment, but I can buy you something to eat. Would that be alright?”

She nodded, “Yes!”

I immediately walked into the mall beside us and bought a meat bun from the little restaurant just beside the entrance. I asked for an extra soft one, and handed it to the grandma. “Eat while it’s hot,” I told her.

She took it and looked somewhat surprised. Then hurriedly she said, “Oh, thank you. Thank you so much!”

“No problem. Go ahead and eat it,” I urged. Then I looked at the bags of plastic bottles, and wondered if she had anything to drink. “Do you have water?” I asked.

“Yes, yes,” she replied.

She was dressed in clothes that did not look very thick. Her tone of voice also reminded me of my own grandmother and those of her generation. I suddenly felt sad and wondered, would I ever see her again? How much time did she have left? Did she know the Lord?

I squatted beside her and asked, “Do you have a place to live?”

“Yes. I live with my daughter. But our situation is difficult. My daughter is sick, so I came out to beg for some money.”

“Do you have a way of getting home?” I asked, “Do you need any money for a ride?”

“I can take the bus,” she hurriedly replied, “I have a bus card.” She pulled her bus card out for me to see.

I really wanted to share the gospel with her right then, because I did not know if I would ever see her again. But I did not know how to begin. I continued asking her more questions, “Are you often here?”

“If there’s nothing else going on, I’m usually here,” she said. Then she asked where I lived and urged me to go home soon, apologizing for taking up my time. She also thanked me again for buying her dinner.

Sensing that our conversation was now over, I patted the grandma on her shoulder and told her, “It’s a small thing. God bless you. I’m a Christian. Jesus loves you!” After that, I said goodbye and left.

On the way home, I felt very conflicted. On the one hand, I was pained by her difficult situation, and I felt sad because I did not know if I would see her again and if she would come to know the Lord. On the other hand, I felt warm and moved that we were able to have that brief interaction.

Even though my interaction with the grandma was short, it helped me experience the truth that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I could spend a few dollars or even a few hundred dollars buying myself a present or eating expensive food. But none of it could compare to little money and time I had just spent blessing someone else. When we give and see others helped and encouraged by what we give, that feeling is just amazing.

The more I began to think about my encounter with the grandma, the more I began to feel ashamed of my self-centeredness. How many people are there around us that we can offer such simple help to? But because we are so engrossed in ourselves or do not want to be inconvenienced, we blind ourselves to them.

As Christians, we clearly know the Lord’s teaching: that we should do good to others whenever the opportunity arises (Galatians 6:10). The Scriptures also say, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27), and, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).

Furthermore, Jesus told us to be the salt and light in this world—we are to be witnesses for Him on earth, and spread the gospel to the corners of the earth. How often do we completely neglect the mission our Lord Jesus has given us, simply because we are completely preoccupied with our own problems?

When we can walk away from our self-centeredness, from our self-pity, and self-righteousness, we see how much the world needs us. The people begging on the sides of the street, who have no place to call home, are forgotten by society. They no longer have friends or family, and are even looked down on by passersby. What they need most at this time might not be one or two coins tossed to them, but real love and comfort that comes from fellow humans.

The greatest commandment God gave us is to love. The next time we see such people seeking help, perhaps we can extend some help and offer them some comfort?

This Christmas season, let us walk out of our own little worlds, and open our eyes to see the people around us who truly need help. Let us do something kind, and share with them our love and the good news of Christ.

How A Hot Cup of Cocoa Pointed Me to God

Written By Jenna Kubiak , USA

The morning breeze mercilessly blew above the walls and enveloped any brave soul standing in its path on a frigid, December morning at dawn’s break. Woolen parkas, hats, sweatpants, mittens, and fur-lined boots obscured our frail figures as my coworker McKenna and I kept our eyes glued on the swimmers gliding through the water.

The frigid atmosphere instantly changed a few minutes later. Out of the blue, a regular swimmer, Andrew, walked up to us with two cups filled to the brim with hot, sweet, soul-satisfying cocoa—a gesture of simple and pure generosity.

Surprised, we quickly thanked him for his kind gesture.

As a lifeguard, I’m used to being in the background. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning or Saturday and Sunday afternoon, I set up my chair, grab my rescue tube and waist pack, and supervise swimmers coming to the pool for their morning laps or family weekend trip. The majority of people don’t give me a second thought. I’m part of the scenery.

Andrew––a lean built gentleman of medium height in his 30s, with wire rimmed glasses and fine-cut dark hair––always arrived on the dot at 6:30 a.m., every Tuesday and Thursday. I was stunned the first time Andrew talked to me, because I had come to accept the idea that people don’t notice lifeguards. He asked us how our day was, how difficult our semesters were, and even remembered little details like our majors and grades. He was genuinely interested in our lives, made us feel like we mattered, and helped us understand that patrons valued our presence.

This man’s generosity left a mark on both McKenna and me. Andrew could have saved his hard-earned five or so dollars he spent on our drinks, yet he chose bless us, without seeking anything in return for his kindness. Through Andrew’s selfless act, we realized blessings aren’t necessarily extravagant. And I believe that God can multiply one act of generosity, and those who offer even small gifts will ultimately grow richer than anyone concerned solely about themselves. Proverbs 11:24-25 best describes the value of generosity: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

In a way, Andrew’s display of generosity gave me a glimpse of God’s generosity. Just as Andrew had clearly went out of his way to bless my friend and I and expected nothing in return, God shows us kindness unconditionally.

God’s generosity towards humanity is best seen in the gift of the life of His only son, Jesus Christ—the ultimate sacrifice that enabled mankind to enjoy a relationship with our perfect, heavenly Father. 2 Corinthians 8:9 describes Jesus’ generous gift of grace, about how He became poor so we could become rich in God’s kingdom.

And even when we turn away from God and try to accomplish things on our own, He forgives all of our sins and constantly pours out mercy. His everlasting love is so great that He accepts even the lowliest in society into His eternal kingdom if they call Him their Savior.

I have personally seen God’s generosity manifest in my life through the ways He constantly provides for all my needs. He gave me additional scholarship money and ensured I had the finances to continue studying at Biola University. He also provided numerous opportunities for me to gain journalism experience and develop writing abilities that enabled me to tell others’ stories and give a voice to the voiceless. Furthermore, He blessed me with a great family and friends who continued supporting me even when they were facing their own struggles.

We do not deserve any of the wonderful blessings the Lord pours out, yet He continues showering His love on us. Each time I recall the act of generosity Andrew showed McKenna and me on that fateful December day, I remember God’s generosity. This brief yet memorable moment inspires me to intentionally bless others and look for ways to put their needs before my own.  It is truly “more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).

ODB: Kindness Gone Viral

January 15, 2015 

READ: Mark 10:13-16 

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. —Mark 10:14 

News of a simple act of kindness on a New York subway has gone around the world. A young man, head covered by a hooded sweatshirt, fell asleep on the shoulder of an older passenger. When someone else offered to wake the young rider, the older man quietly said, “He must have had a long day. Let him sleep. We’ve all been there.” Then he let the tired fellow rider sleep on his shoulder for the better part of the next hour, until the older man gently eased away to get up for his stop. In the meantime, another passenger snapped a photograph and posted it on social media, and it went viral.

The man’s kindness seems to resonate with what we all long for—the kindness that reflects the heart of God. We see this gentleness in Jesus when His friends tried to protect Him from the noise and bother of little children. Instead, Jesus insisted on taking the little ones in His arms and blessing them (Mark 10:16). In the process, He invited all of us to trust Him like a little child (vv.13-16).

Jesus lets us know that all of us are safe in His presence. Whether awake or asleep, we can lean on Him. When we’re exhausted, He provides a safe place for us to rest.

— Mart De Haan

Under His wings, I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild;
Still I can trust Him—I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me and I am His child. —Cushing

God is a safe resting place. 

ODJ: getting in trouble

January 13, 2015 

READ: Matthew 12:9-14 

And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath (v.12).

One day during class, Adrionna Harris noticed something disturbing—one of her young classmates cutting himself with a small razor. As she perceived it to be a grave situation, she did what she thought was the right thing to do—stepped in, took the razor from him and threw it away. But instead of receiving praise, her compassionate act earned her a 10 day suspension. Asked if she would do it again, Adrionna replied: “Even if I got in trouble, it didn’t matter because I was helping him . . . I would do it again even if I got suspended.”

Just as Adrionna’s act of compassion sparked controversy in her school, Jesus’ compassionate act sparked a religious feud with the Pharisees.

Always jabbing at Jesus and looking for an opening for a knockout punch, the Pharisees used a man with a deformed hand as a way to bait the Saviour into breaking their law (Matthew 12:10). Jesus told them that if Jews were allowed to care for animals in dire situations on the Sabbath, how much more should they set aside rules and codes to care for people (vv.11-12).

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, so He could regulate what is and isn’t permitted on that day (vv.6,8). Knowing that it would land Him in hot water with the religious leaders (and it did), Jesus restored the man’s hand to wholeness (vv.13-14).

Even if we get in trouble, sometimes we’re compelled to go against traditions and preferences to help people in need. When we help them, we imitate God (Ephesians 5:1), reveal the genuineness of our faith (James 2:14-17) and share our brothers’ and sisters’ burdens (Galatians 6:1). —Marvin Williams

365-day plan› Genesis 22:1-19

MORE
Read Esther 4:8-16 and see how one woman went against the rules to save her people. 
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When was the last time you asked and acted on the question: “Is there anyone who I can show kindness to today?” Even if you get in trouble, what rules and rituals do you need to ignore in order to help someone in need? 

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