You see an older woman struggling to carry all her groceries to her car and rush over to help her. You pull over on the side of the street to give some of your groceries to a homeless man. You leave a note of gratitude in the mailbox for your mailman to find the next morning.
Some random acts of kindness are free—and those are wonderful.
But what about the ones that aren’t?
What about the single parent who can’t afford to keep food on the table for their three kids and pay the electricity bill? Or the young man recovering from addiction whose car just died—and now he can’t get to his rehab meetings? How about the high school girl who got kicked out of the house when she told her parents she was pregnant?
Sometimes being generous calls for more than a compassionate heart and kind word; sometimes it requires you to dig into your pockets and put some money on the table.
This is one of the reasons we, as Christians, need to be in a good place financially. Having wiggle room in your budget allows you to act when you feel that tugging in your heart to help people who are struggling.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, we get a wonderful glimpse of what it looks like to have enough.
In case you aren’t familiar with the story, it goes like this: A man on the way to Jericho is attacked by robbers and left half dead on the side of the road—until a Samaritan walks by. Here’s what happens when the Samaritan sees the man on the ground.
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back’ (Luke 10:33–35, ESV).
Wouldn’t it be incredible to be able to do something like that? Here’s how you can:
1. Take a good, hard look at your budget.
2. Find a few categories you can trim down.
3. Combine the money you trimmed—whether it’s $20 or $200—and earmark it for spontaneous generosity.
4. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to serve with your wallet.
Yes, you can still perform random acts of kindness in ways that don’t require any money. But one day, when you see a single parent in your church struggling to make ends meet even though they’re working all the time, you might want to call the utility company and pay their overdue bill.
Imagine how that single parent would feel when they find out their utility bills are paid for. Try to understand the relief. And then try to picture what they’re thinking. It’s probably something like, Thank you, Lord, for watching out for us.
Having wiggle room in your budget allows you to act when you feel that tugging in your heart to help people who are struggling.
Jesus shows up in our lives in so many ways, including through the generosity of others. We’re His best work, and He uses us to show other people just how much He loves, treasures and protects us.
And keep in mind, your random acts of kindness don’t have to be as extreme as buying someone a replacement car or covering a mortgage payment. You can start small by bringing coffee to a coworker who is fighting for their rocky marriage or paying for your child’s best friend to go to camp after one of their parents just lost their job.
But make a plan, set aside the money, and keep your eyes open. The opportunities will show up—and you’ll be blessed by the experience to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus to the people around you.