Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 9, 2013


Small acts of kindness make a difference


          Kindness makes a difference. Most people are cheered by kindness, especially when it not expected. Everyone is capable of performing acts of kindness and most of the time the gift of kindness costs us little or nothing.

          Add to that the fact that kindness actually benefits the giver as well as the recipient. Scientific research has proven that being kind to others will improve your health.  Acts of kindness release endorphins in the brain that boost the level of happiness for both the giver and the receiver. That may be one reason why Aesop said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

          Harold Kushner explains it even more clearly: “When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says yes, this is how I ought to feel.”

          I am not the first, of course, to make a case for kindness. Mark Twain did so when he said, “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Like so many things Twain said, I wish I had said that.

          Bob Hope, a genius at twisting a phrase, once said, “If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” You can smile and say amen to the words of a comedian who spent his life trying to make people smile.

          Small acts of kindness can be simple things like holding a door open for someone walking behind you or even smiling at a store clerk who is serving you. Often a smile can chase away a frown. But even when it does not, you will feel better for having smiled.

          Birthday cards can be acts of kindness especially if they contain a handwritten note of appreciation for someone’s lasting friendship.

          On our recent anniversary we received many cards from friends that must have released a truckload of those endorphins in our brains. We’ve been married so long that our friends can’t believe we are still alive – and they remind us of that with crazy cards – which make us smile! Of course some of our friends are, like us, as old as dirt and they know it.

          At annual conference this week a woman asked if she could sit with us. We were delighted by this small act of kindness by our friend Pat Caylor. As she sat with us, listening to the bishop announce the appointments of his preachers, we felt a surge of joy in our hearts. Sixty-one years ago this week her mother, Bertha Bell, sang at our wedding. The kindness of her daughter choosing to sit beside us was a precious anniversary gift.

          King David was a great sinner who having confessed his sins experienced forgiveness because of the kindness of God. David gave us a beautiful word in the King James Version of the Bible when he wrote often of God’s “lovingkindness.”

Modern translations have changed that word to simply “love.” I realize that “lovingkindness” is a cumbersome union of two words.  But honestly I can think of few more beautiful verses in the Bible than Psalm 63:3 – “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise thee.” Surely it is the loving kindness of God that triggers in us the desire to offer others gifts of kindness.

Any day, like this very day, is a good day to perform small acts of kindness that will bless those around us, whether strangers or friends. I will allow Ralph Waldo Emerson to have the last word: “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” + + +