Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Act Of Random Kindness At A Time

In the motion picture, Evan Almighty, Morgan Freeman plays God. At one significant point he tells Evan Baxter, the recently elected congressman, that to ‘change the world,’ which was Evan’s catchphrase during his election campaign, that it simply takes “one act of random kindness at a time.”

I would normally say that that is the Christian’s prerogative--to do acts of random kindness; but realistically, anyone who does this--acting on the opportunity to be kind in random life--has the mind and heart of God, at that moment. They express his true form of love. Love is a verb. It’s expressed in action. So, now we know how to come closer to God; simply string one act of random kindness (no matter how small) to another, then another, and so on. And now we can truly see that Christians who do not routinely perform acts of random kindness are no better than their pagan neighbours; they do not behave in a godly way consistently and are therefore, like the Pharisees, hypocrites.

One of the other great spiritual ploys of the movie occurs when Evan’s wife (played by Lauren Graham) interacts with God in a diner, and he says words to the effect, ‘When you pray God does not give things, but only the opportunity by which to obtain things, [for example] togetherness of families.’[1] Evan was too busy to spend time with his family as congressmen but when the ark materials came it involved him with his boys. Building the ark was an opportunity to unite the family. It also underscores a valuable truth in prayer. If we pray for patience and God will not miraculously make us patient; but he will bless us with the opportunity to develop patience through a series of difficulties. We see that patience (like all virtues) can only be developed through exercise and practise. We need to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty, interacting with life!

The great summation of both these points is God doesn’t do things for us; he provides the impetus, motivation, resolve, and equipment--the mind and the heart--the rest is up to us. We can whinge and complain, and we can dredge up all sorts of excuses why we can’t act on opportunities to do random kindnesses, but there’s no reasonable reason why we can’t. God doesn’t expect miracles from us, only simple things; it is not hard to please God. (But, when we do please him, that’s the miracle--simply because we so often avoid pleasing him!) We ought to simply make the most of our opportunities by acting more often on the needs of others or the things we see. The point is opportunity. It’s the common thread with both points. We must seize the opportunities. Looking for them and seizing them again takes practise. Responding with spontaneity reveals a heart prepared and willing to act.

The context of this is captured in the following quote, making it easier for us to comprehend that our sphere of influence is right there in front of us; it’s inescapable:

“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” -St. Augustine of Hippo.[2]

We do not need to look too far to do random kindnesses; the opportunities are right before us every day.

Copyright © 2008, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] Source of most of this quote:
[2] Source of quote:

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