“But if a man has this world’s goods, and sees that his brother is in need, and keeps his heart shut against his brother, how is it possible for the love of God to be in him? My little children, do not let our love be in word and in tongue, but let it be in act and in good faith” (1 John 3:17-18, BBE).
I knew my eight-year-old Lily was needing some extra attention. So I took her out on a mom-daughter date. I let her pick the restaurant, and soon we were seated, waiting for our rotisserie chicken and fries. Our table was next to a long, tall window that covered that whole side of the building. As we waited, she gazed out on the street.
A woman sat on the sidewalk across the street, peddling her wares. Her small, disheveled children slumped beside her, staring absently at passersby. Lily asked me, “Are they poor, Mommy?” I acknowledged that they probably were. Another family sat in a motocar on our side of the street. They seemed to be waiting for something. Curious faces peered back at Lily as she watched. “Are those kids hungry, Mommy?” she asked again. I wondered out loud with her about it. Lily added this question, “Are we rich?” I told her that we surely are. (Nothing like encountering hungry people to bring to your attention just how wealthy you are).
Our food arrived, and we tucked it away with gusto. We were just slowing down, when a middle-aged man came walking down the sidewalk outside the window. He stopped when he got to us. He stood right there, just a couple feet away, on the other side of the glass. He stared at the food left on our plates. He did not move.
Feeling awkward, I averted my gaze. Lily did not. She looked up at him. After thinking about it, she piped up, “Mommy, can I give him the rest of my food?” Smiling tenderly, I gave her permission. She boxed up the remaining half and motioned to him to meet her at the door, a short distance from us. I watched carefully as she handed the styrofoam container to him through the door.
When she turned back to me, she had tears rolling down her cheeks. As she sat down, I asked gently, “What the matter, honey?” She exclaimed with joy, “That just felt so good!”
She was quiet on the way home. I looked over and saw that a couple more tears had escaped. “I’m still thinking about that man,” she explained with a smile. I hugged her and told her how proud I was of her.
This was one of those precious times – you know them – that Jesus had something to show me through one of my children. I’m thinking about this verse: “But if a man has this world’s goods, and sees that his brother is in need, and keeps his heart shut against his brother, how is it possible for the love of God to be in him?” Lily did exactly the opposite. She did not keep her heart shut. She kept it open. Her beautiful little heart was open to the stirring of the Holy Spirit, open to His genuine compassion for those hurting in the world around us. Open to be His instrument of love to meet someone’s need when He asked.
“My little children, do not let our love be in word and in tongue, but let it be in act and in good faith.”
How much does importance does one act of kindness have?