Last week, one of my friends was in the drive-thru at Sonic. All she wanted was a milkshake. The guy in front of her ordered about eight drinks and kept her waiting for quite some time.
When she finally got to the window to pay, the girl said, “The guy in front of you paid for your milkshake. In fact, you ordered a medium; and he had us make you a large.”
My friend was astounded. Never before had a stranger paid for something for her. She didn’t quite know how to act.
I have had the same thing happen to me twice, once at Starbucks and once in a restaurant. The second time, I knew who paid, and I had an opportunity to thank the ones that paid.
In this time of my life, I see more selfishness than I care to see. People take; they typically don’t give. Giving without a reason is such a wonderful way to express appreciation, offer encouragement, or just be a nice person.
In the book of Ruth, we read about a man like this. Ruth had been widowed; she left her home to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to her home in Bethlehem.
They had no income, and Ruth took it upon herself to venture out into the fields to find food. She found more than food.
In the field that belonged to Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi, she found the opportunity and the safety she needed to provide for her mother-in-law and herself.
Boaz insisted that she stay only in his field, and he instructed his servants to leave extra grain for Ruth (Ruth 2:4-15). In fact, he even let her eat with his servants.
In I Kings 4, there is a story about a woman of the city of Shunem. Scripture says she was a wealthy woman.
One day Elisha the prophet passed through Shunem. The woman saw Elisha and invited him to her home. Each time Elisha visited this city, the woman invited him to eat with her and her husband.
Because of his frequent visits and a need for a place to stay, the woman suggested to her husband that they build a room onto their house, furnish it, and offer it to Elisha.
How many of us would build a room on our house and offer to let a stranger stay there on a regular basis? I suspect not many of us.
In the book of Acts, we read about Christians in the first century sharing what they had to help those in need. One such man was Barnabas. Scripture says that he, “Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:37 KJV).
In verse 32 the writer says, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common” (ESV).
Luke 10 provides a familiar story, a parable told by Jesus, about the kindness of a stranger. A man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by robbers. He was beaten and left for dead.
Two men walked by the wounded man and offered no assistance. A Samaritan, considered to be of no more value than a dog, stopped to help the man.
He treated his wounds, put him on his own animal, and took him to an inn. There he continued to take care of him; and when he had to continue his travels, he left money with the innkeeper for his continued needs. He also promised to return to take care of any expense that was not covered.
In each of these examples there was a gift involved—food for a widow and her daughter-in-law, a place for a weary traveller, money for necessities, and care for a wounded man.
My friend didn’t “need” a milkshake; but a stranger inconvenienced her and wanted to show a kindness. Do it “just because.”
Look around you. Do you have opportunities to show a kindness? Whom do you see with a physical need? Do you have the resources to provide what they need?
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).