“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
“Simple Acts of Kindness”
Are any of you familiar with the term “servant evangelism.” This term is nothing less than showing the love of God through our own caring and loving actions toward others. Sometimes it’s the simplest acts of kindness that have the most lasting effects. Sometimes ordinary things impact people in extraordinary ways.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at Jesus’ message to us.
Today’s gospel speaks of sharing a cup of water. He isn’t speaking of just sharing a drink with someone. He’s talking about sharing ourselves; a life full of relationships, both with God and with our fellow men and women.
He’s talking about the humble act of giving a piece of ourselves to others. He’s talking about sharing in practical ways and not just in abstract terms.
There is satisfaction with finding more importance in caring for others than caring for ourselves.
Let’s think outside the box and consider Christ’s message about caring for our fellow men and women. The simplest of acts can have impacts far beyond our wildest dreams. Take for example this story of a humble hotel clerk.
In the city of Philadelphia there was a little third-class hotel. Into it one night there came two tired elderly people. They went up to the night clerk and the husband pleadingly said, “Mister, please don’t tell us you don’t have a room. My wife and I have been all over the city looking for a place to stay. We didn’t know about the big conventions that are here. The hotels at which we usually stay are all full. We’re dead tired and it’s after midnight. Please, don’t tell us you don’t have a place where we can sleep.”
The clerk looked at them a long moment and then answered, “Well, I don’t have a single room except my own. I work at night and sleep in the daytime. It’s not as nice as the other rooms, but it’s clean, and I’ll be happy for you to be my guests for tonight.”
The wife said, “God bless you, young man.”
The next morning at the breakfast table, the couple sent the waiter to tell the night clerk they wanted to see him on very important business. The night clerk went in, recognized the two people, sat down at the table and said he hoped they had had a good night’s sleep.
They thanked him most sincerely. Then the husband astounded the clerk with this statement, “You’re too fine a hotel man to stay in a hotel like this. How would you like for me to build a big, beautiful, luxurious hotel in the city of New York and make you general manager?”
The clerk didn’t know what to say. He thought there might be something wrong with their minds. He finally stammered, “It sounds wonderful.” His guest then introduced himself. “I’m John Jacob Astor.” So, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was built.
Four years later, the hotel was the largest in the world and boasted unprecedented standards of service. The night clerk became the best-known hotel man in the world. A humble act of service let to this unforeseen act of grandeur.
The point of this story is not that you will be rewarded for doing good deeds, but that simple deeds can produce larger results than we expect.
Simple acts can show the love of God through our actions.
One clerk chose to show a simple act of kindness to strangers by sharing his room with this tired couple. He touched them in ways he could not have foreseen. His simple act of kindness touched the fabric of this couple and greatly impacted how they looked at this young man.
These extraordinary situations don’t come along every day. But, everyday there is a situation that a simple act of kindness can help with. Sometimes, a simple act becomes contagious and more people share their own love with their fellow men.
Shortly after the first edition of the Miami Herald had gone to press on Sunday night, December 29, 1946, Timothy Sullivan answered the telephone on the city desk. “Please help me,” a woman’s voice pleaded. “My husband is bleeding to death.”
Sullivan got the entire story. The man’s name was Rudy Kovarik, from Dearborn, Michigan. They were on a vacation but he was sick and in the Biscayne Hospital. The AB-negative blood he needed was not available at the hospital or other sources. Without a transfusion, the doctors thought he might not live until morning.
What could the city editor do? A man was dying. A woman’s heart was breaking. Then he got an idea—WCBS, fourteen blocks away, where it was almost time for Walter Winchell to go on the air in a nationwide broadcast. The operator at the radio station refused to let him talk to Winchell, but, after some insistence and pleading, she put an assistant of Winchell on the phone. He took a memo of the situation and Sullivan sat back to wait.
Soon the telephones began to go mad. The Herald office, the police station, the hospital were all swamped with calls from all over the nation. People as far away as New York City began to board planes for Miami, the corridors of the Biscayne Hospital were crowded, and traffic jammed the nearby streets as would-be donors tried to get to the hospital.
The actual donor was a tourist from New York who heard the broadcast on his car radio, checked his Army dog tags for blood type, and drove two blocks to the hospital. In a few minutes his life-giving blood was flowing into the veins of the stricken man.
A few weeks later a healthy-looking man walked up to the Herald’s city desk to thank Timothy Sullivan.
Timothy Sullivan would’ve never thought he would be responsible for saving a life that night. He had no idea that someone would call and ask him for help. After all, he had no means to ask for assistance. But, he knew someone who could get the word out. He thought outside the box.
This simple call for help spread like wildfire. That’s how God’s love can both be shown in a simple act and spread rapidly across the globe. By starting with one person, a few can be touched, then a community, then a city, then a nation and even a world.
Through our simple acts of kindness, we have the capability to show God’s love to a great many people.
These situations, where people are looking for help, are upon us nearly every day. But sometimes, help is part of our everyday routine. Sometimes an act of kindness is also a labor of love. These ordinary events can also produce extraordinary results.
You see, there are opportunities all around us to show God’s love through us. These acts don’t need to be complex. These acts don’t have to be extraordinary. These acts can be the normal, everyday event, just like the meals from that kitchen sign.
No matter how simple or complex, no matter how ordinary or unique we always have the opportunity to show the love of Christ through simple acts of kindness.
This simple service is not based on who we are, but who Jesus is through us. God loves us in so many ways. He feeds us, clothes us, provides for our physical needs. He also gives us strength when times are tough and comforts us when we experience loss. He’s there when we succeed and when we fail. He shows this unprecedented love through the sacrifice of his Son for us. His grace, our reward.
But sometimes it might be hard to reflect that love that He has for us. Sometimes we might find it difficult to smile, let alone serve. Sometimes, what we do might seem inadequate at times, especially when compared to the sacrifices He made for us.
The challenge is that sometimes we try to love under our own power, and the power to share Jesus in practical ways comes from Christ. Paul knew this. Even when imprisoned, he knew and experienced the power of Christ at work. That’s why he tells the Philippians and us in Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
We can show God’s love for us through our actions. We can serve by accepting that Jesus served us first.
This service and sacrifice led to our salvation. But it is not by my power or any action I perform. It is by the service of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for me. We get into heaven not by what we do, but by what Christ has done for us. The power of the life we live in love toward God and others flows out of God working in our hearts.
Jesus the night before he dies prays for this to happen in our lives when he prays in John 17:20,
Jesus Prays for All Believers
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
So, what can we learn about sharing a cup of cold water? Let the love that God has for you and me reflect in your actions. You are important and God showed just how important you are with this tremendous sacrifice. Jesus was a servant and we can reflect that in our own actions.
There is no common labor unless we make it so. Jesus Christ Himself toiled in a workshop. Every act is important because they all reflect that love that is in us.
Jesus was a carpenter. He faced the ordinary trials of life in the market, in the town, on the roads and in the temple. He tackled each ordinary situation in extraordinary ways because all of his actions showed the love of God. He used the usual situations of daily living to show the unusual caring nature of our heavenly Father. Just as our heavenly Father first loved us and demonstrated service through His Son Jesus, we too can show that love in simple acts of kindness.
Accept freely the act of grace that God has bestowed upon you and freely share it with those around you.
Pastor Bill Daywalt