46 And Mary said: My soul praises the greatness of the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 because he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and his name is holy. 50 His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. 51 He has done a mighty deed with his arm; he has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The phrase “random acts of kindness” was coined in 1982 by Anne Herbert. It was an effort to counteract “random acts of violence” and “senseless acts of cruelty” in our society. Random acts of kindness are usually refreshing tales where the recipient is abundantly blessed by the kindness of the giver. The recipient is often so overwhelmed that he or she pays it forward and blesses another stranger with kindness.
I remember one day when my husband and I were out for lunch. We were about to pay and return to work when the server said the bill was already taken care of. Nothing was due. We were taken by complete surprise and knew that we had done nothing to warrant the favor.
Just as random and unexpected acts of kindness are surprising and unwarranted, Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus, was taken by surprise at the announcement of her pending pregnancy (Luke 1:26-38). She asked the angel Gabriel how that would take place, since she was a virgin. The feeling of surprise morphed into a song of Thanksgiving when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-52). Mary recognized that the Lord had chosen to bless a woman of humble means rather than the rich and powerful. She had nothing and did nothing that would warrant such attention or favor.
In ancient Israel, the thought was common that if a person had wealth, God approved of his or her life. The religious elite put many extra-biblical rules and restrictions on the common people. Since the poor and disenfranchised were not blessed with wealth or social standing, they could have easily felt their lives disappointed God. In the coming of the Messiah, God turned this idea upside down. As the chosen mother of the Messiah, poor Mary did not miss the key point: God’s love and mercy is universal, for all people, regardless of their status, health, wealth, or race.
How did Mary respond when she recognized the favor of the Lord in her life? Did she keep the joy to herself? Did she light a lamp and hide it under a basket, so to speak (Matthew 5:15)? No, her joy overflowed into telling others. She told the good news that God is holy, merciful to those who fear him, and just. How does Jesus call us to respond when we realize He has blessed us with the most beautiful act of kindness ever told—His death on the cross as payment for our sins?
As we place our trust in Him as Lord and Savior, Jesus empowers us with the help of the Holy Spirit to ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…’ (Matthew 28:19). Clearly, God doesn’t intend for us to sit still and remain idle. He calls us to action. He also wants us to realize that all good and perfect gifts come from above (James 1:17), and that we are managers of what He has entrusted to us (Matthew 25:14-30). In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the master praises the servant who multiplies the master’s talents into more blessings. It’s pleasing to the Lord when we use the blessings He has given us to spread the gospel to others. Responding to Jesus’ love by using our time, treasure and talent to spread His love and message of salvation to a broken and hurting world—what a blessed way to roll in the Christmas season.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Is there someone in your life who could benefit from knowing about the greatest act of kindness ever performed?
- What joyful response to the good news of your salvation is God calling you to give this Christmas season?
- Have you had a spiritual gifts assessment and a coaching session to learn how you could serve in ministry?
Pray for Kevin, a global worker from our church family serving in Southeast Asia. Pray for a community of believers as well as connections with those seeking spiritual answers and opportunities to share.