“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21
In the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School there are more questions than answers. There is anger and bitterness. There are political debates. There are little hands to hold and fears to be faced. There are funerals to attend.
Many of us have desired to help the hurting and found ourselves at a loss as to how to go about it. People all over this country have grieved for those they have never met. How do you help someone you don’t even know? When you can’t help those directly affected you feel powerless. But the Bible reminds us not to be overcome by evil, but instead, let us overcome evil with good. Let us honor the memory of those precious children and heroic teachers by consciously adding good to the world.
A woman in a parking lot in Altoona, Pennsylvania received an anonymous Christmas card on Saturday that said, “How do you fight evil in this world. You fight it with good. This act of kindness is in memory of a child who lost his/her life yesterday. Make the world a better place. Do good and Merry Christmas.” The anonymous person left a $10 bill in the card. The woman said that it was the best Christmas gift she had ever received and she vowed to pay it forward. You can watch the original news story here.
I want to encourage people to make a mindful contribution to this world and to people in particular. It doesn’t have to be big and elaborate; it can be as simple as leaving $10 and a few kind words for a stranger. It’s not about a material gift; it’s about affecting the spiritual realm by combating evil with good. Don’t be afraid to extend kindness to a stranger. Don’t be embarrassed to tell someone you care about how much you love them. Remember to hug people and tell them they are valued. Small things can really brighten someone’s day.
Here are few ideas to get you started:
- Offer to pray for someone.
- Present a smile to a stranger, even if they scowl at you.
- At the toll booth, pay the toll for the car behind you.
- Leave change at a vending machine for the next person to find.
- Hold the door open for people.
- Donate used books/furniture/clothing to someone in need.
- Visit a nursing home.
- Rake/shovel/mow your neighbor’s yard before they come home from work.
- Leave a dollar where a child will find it.
- Bring treats to work for co-workers.
- Go on Amazon.com and buy a random person something off their wish list.
- Call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile.
- Make a conscious effort to not complain about anything for an entire day.
- Buy the meal/coffee for the person behind you in the drive-through.
- Send a thank you card to someone who has been a positive influence in your life.
- Let the person behind you in line at the grocery store go ahead of you.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate canned goods and other staples to people in need.
- Slip a $25 gas card in someone’s bag or on their windshield.
- Buy a few extra umbrellas and on a rainy day go out and distribute them to people who are walking without one.
- Send a letter to a store complimenting one of the employees. Letters of complaint are the norm; positive letters are rare and can really make a big difference in someone’s job.
I could list many more ideas, but you get the picture. One caution, it is easier to remember to do these sorts of things around Christmastime or around tragedies. I want to encourage people (myself included) to make this a regular habit, not something that is only done once a year. I’d even go so far as to suggest you schedule it into your life. Yeah, I know that scheduling it makes it sound sterile and like I’m taking all of the spontaneity out of it, but if you set up an alert on your outlook calendar, email, or cell phone that periodically reminds you to do this sort of thing, you can be sure that it will go beyond the Christmas season. If this sort of thing is new to you, then maybe you only set up your alert for every six months or so. If you’re feeling more venturous, set up an alert to remind you to do an act of kindness once a month, or once a week! Before long, you’ll notice opportunities even when you haven’t had an alert and it will become more organic over time. Ask God to open doors for you and to show you where you can be of assistance to someone or ask God to send you opportunities just to make someone’s day. You can be sure He will!
The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). The best way to show people God is not by using well-crafted words, it’s by showing His love working through us. Spread love.
In His Love,