True story: a while ago, as my wife walked past an autobank, she noticed £300 hanging out of it.
She took the money into the bank to explain what had happened, to find a distraught woman trying to explain to the cashier inside that she had just used the autobank but had not received her money.
When my wife reunited this woman with her money she was so grateful – this was her holiday money that she had been saving up.
What a difference that small act of kindness made to this woman.
Let me tell you another true story about an act of kindness. A number of years ago, there was a university student at medical school in the United States called Howard Kelly.
On a particularly hot Saturday, Kelly decided to go out hiking. He misjudged the weather and soon had to knock at the door of a farmhouse to ask for a glass of water.
The kindly woman who answered the door took pity on him and, in addition to a glass of water, gave him a glass of cool milk and some food. Howard Kelly was deeply touched by this woman’s act of kindness.
Anyway, Kelly went on and qualified and soon became a distinguished consultant.
Years later, that same woman needed to be admitted to the City Hospital for treatment. Her surgeon was Dr Howard Kelly.
When he looked at her notes and saw the name of the farm address, he immediately went down the hall to her room and he recognised her at once.
After the surgery had been performed, Dr Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval.
He looked at it, then wrote something on it and the bill was sent to her room.
She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay it off.
Finally, she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words: “Paid in full with one glass of milk.”
What a difference an act of kindness can make, not just to others but to yourself as well.
As we stand on the threshold of a New Year, can I encourage you to reflect on being intentional about offering even a small act of kindness to someone?
Whether it is just an impulsive response to a situation you come across where you can offer help, or whether it is a more considered act ofkindness for someone you know who will appreciate it (maybe they will appreciate it more than you will ever know).
This year will be a better year – for those who receive it and for those who give it and for our community as a whole – if we will look to offer a small act of kindness where we can.
“Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).