by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer
For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14 NIV
It was a simple act of kindness, but its effects continue to ripple on into people who never knew its giver. All it took was a bottle of water in the hands of a man not just willing to give but prepared to do so.
We met him on a hike my husband and I had no intention of taking. We just wanted to look around, but one scenic view led to another, and soon we were miles from the car, beneath the desert sun on a trail headed to the summit of Camelback Mountain. No map, no water, no plan.
A man coming down the trail stopped to offer a bottle of water. He explained he always carried extra for sharing. We never knew his name. The interaction took less than two minutes. But his kindness is remembered.
The wisdom we gained that day—and there was a lot to be gained—was that willingness to help isn’t always enough. We need to be prepared to help. Thanks to his one small act, we chose to begin to live in this same way. The fruit of his kindness now manifests itself in the lives of our children. They don’t know the stranger on the mountain, not his story or his name.
But his gracious generosity continues through their purposeful actions, often to strangers who will never know their names. Who knows how much one small act of kindness on the trail will impact this world?
The world tells us that having a long- remembered name is the evidence of a meaningful life. But this is not what the Bible teaches. The world says earn my favor. The Kingdom of God says share my favor.
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain…” (John 15:16 NASB) Not that my name should remain, but my fruit.
What is the fruit that lingers on?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Galatians 5:22-3 NASB.
I’ve seen the love of Jesus in faces of people whose names I’ll never know. But the love of Christ reflected through them is imprinted on my soul forever. It is not the fame of their name, but the love in their hearts that influences everything I think and do.
God isn’t glorified by my name being an entry on Wikipedia or any of the countless other things we might chase—even some of the things we chase in the name of Kingdom building.
“By this My father is glorified, that you bear much fruit…” (John 15:8 ESV)
It doesn’t say great fruit, impressive fruit, look-what-I-did-and-remember-me-forever fruit. It just says much fruit. God can do great things with the ordinary things we may think too small to notice. A thousand small acts of kindness may have more impact on God’s Kingdom than anything else we can think to do.
Don’t remember me. But if by my life, you remember Jesus, then I will be content to one day hear “well done my good and faithful servant.”
About the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.
Join the conversation: What ordinary act of generosity has had an impact on your life?