Connecting words with positive actions
“The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” Psalm 118:24 (NIV)
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
In many ways, gratitude and kindness create a more positive atmosphere and personal lifestyle. Kindness is described in my experience as the use of thoughts, deeds, and actions, however small, to welcome or make others feel cared for, appreciated, and even loved. As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, gratitude and thankfulness are talked about in many places and shown often through shared meals, desserts, and spending time with others.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11 (NIV)
Bringing the term “gratitude” to our faith can be lived in a variety of ways. According to the Oxford Dictionary, gratitude is "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness." While this definition connects thankfulness and kindness, this blog post offers a few ideas to live the connection between gratitude and kindness in our everyday lives.
In daily conversation, many people of faith talk about the simple to even miraculous parts of their personal stories and faith walk. If you see yourself participating in this type of conversation, consider taking another small step, creating a gratitude list.
A friend of mine recently encouraged me to text him five things by the end of each day that I am grateful for. In turn, he shares his list with me. Our lists may include people we encountered, a conversation held, or completing a task. I look forward to texting my list and reading his list each day. This application or idea has been used by many people to build up what they are thankful for and make changes toward a more positive and enthusiastic mindset.
Writing a list creates accountability and a true warmth and growth in friendship. This spiritual practice can also reduce resentments and expectations of others as we focus on positive areas of our lives and relationships. Small to larger groups of friends I knew shared their lists with a group of people by email. Others have found writing their daily lists down in a personal journal or notebook to be very helpful.
Kindness in Action
Gratitude is often shown through thoughts, actions, and words. The Oxford Dictionary states that kindness is "the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate." Here are some kind acts to try during this holiday season.
1. Break bread. Invite someone to share a meal, a cup of coffee, or even the holidays with you and your loved ones. This is especially powerful when reaching out to someone who doesn’t have many close friends or family members in their life.
2. Contact a friend. Let them know the impact they have had in your life, with specific examples of how they have helped you. It's also amazing to reach out to someone that you have a difficult relationship with and make a sincere apology or amends for your behavior or part in the strained family, friend, or workplace connection.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
3. Offer to disciple, mentor, or serve someone in a way that will encourage their Christian walk, reading of the Bible, or prayer life.
Serving others can be as simple as carving out time to spend with a friend on a regular basis. Suggest taking a walk or planning a day trip or fun activity. Read a book together and discuss the topics found in each chapter. During your time together, encourage them to talk about their life and faith. Offer clear ideas about your own prayer life and how it has made a difference. Sharing examples of your testimony and simply letting them know you are special and important to them is a great way to share your love for God and them. Ask if you can be an accountability partner and then follow up regularly.
Another idea of serving others is to consider adding a few people to your list to call on a regular basis. See how they are doing over the course of a few weeks and months during your phone conversation. Ask questions about topics that matter to them. Tell them about your faith through your experiences. Be sure to find out if they have prayer requests. Pray together and continue to let them know that they are a part of your prayer time.
4. Seek ways each day to help someone in small ways. A friendly greeting with a smile is a perfect example. A friend at My City said to me “You are special”. This one phrase is the type of communication that shows thoughtfulness and reaches others. Look for opportunities to assist someone without them finding out.
5. Extend your My City group prayer beyond group night. As an example, when someone has asked you for accountability and prayer, exchange phone numbers and follow up to see if they are doing well and working toward the tasks, study goals, and relationship concerns they shared in confidence. This offers a chance to build connections and trust within the group and between two members.
As we encounter this holiday season, entering this time prayerfully, with gratitude and kindness offers a very real chance to build your faith and inspire others at My City Church and in other areas of your life.
"Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:2 (ESV)
Want to learn more about having a heart of thankfulness and service? Check out these My City blogs!
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