You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.
[Jesus’ 12 disciples are sent out on a mission trip with these instructions. For background see Days 83-84.]
This is the last of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples before he sends them out on their mission trip. The next scripture is: “When Jesus finished giving thest instructions to his twelve disciples, he left that place and went off to teach and preach in the towns near there.”
Most endeavors require cooperation. It takes more than one person to pull most things off. Jesus, for example, has enlisted disciples to help him. He wants to remind his disciples that there will be a support team out there to help them. Jesus has sent his disciples off to travel into unknown territory with no money and no material possessions. Their mission is a challenging one – heal the sick, raise the dead, and announce the advent of the Kingdom of God to all who will listen.
Jesus believes that God will provide everything that they need (see Days 49-53). In this scripture Jesus indicates how these needs will be met. He is counting on all of the Jews that the disciples meet to obey Law of Moses expressed in Deuteronomy 15:7-11:
“If in any of the towns in the land that the Lord your God is giving you there are Israelites in need, then do not be selfish and refuse to help them. Instead, be generous and lend them as much as they need. Do not refuse to lend them something, just because the year when debts are canceled is near. Do not let such an evil thought enter your mind. If you refuse to make the loan, they will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will be held guilty. Give to them freely and unselfishly, and the Lord will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some Israelites who are poor and in need, and so I command you to be generous to them.”
Another word for individual Jewish laws like this one is “Mitzvah.” There is also a secondary meaning for the word that has evolved over time. According to Wikipedia: In its secondary meaning, Hebrew mitzvah, as with English “commandment,” refers to a moral deed performed as a religious duty. As such, the term mitzvah has also come to express an act of human kindness.
Jesus is depending on those Jews along the way to perform mitzvah, to welcome the disciples with kindness – “Random Acts of Kindness.”
The term “Random Acts of Kindness” as attributed to Anne Herbert, who wrote “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat while dining with friends at a California restaurant in 1983. Others saw the placemat, spread the word, and a powerful grassroots movement emerged.
In 1993 the book Random Acts of Kindness became a national best-seller, the first of many books on the subject. Here are excerpts from a review of the book by Mark B. Cohen:”
The concept of random of kindness is an antidote to the concept of random acts of violence. Random of kindess are far more common than random acts of violence, and the more they are encouraged, the more they should dominate.
Random acts of kindness can be both as simple as talking to strangers, as inconspicuous as allowing people in a hurry to get ahead of you in line, as generous as doing unsolicited chores for people in need, as philanthropic as paying for a stranger’s dinner or sending books to a sick child.
The endless examples of the ways people can treat others with random kindness are well sampled in this book. So are inspirational quotes.
Pennsylvania founder William Penn says “If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”
The Dalai Lama says “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
William James says “I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest moments of pride.”
“Kindness,” the authors say, “is soft and subtle. It permeates everything it comes in contact with, remains as a permanent reminder of what could and should be.”
The Random Acts of Kindness movement formally launched by this has continued to grow over the years, fully embraced by educators, religious institutions, and social justice advocates. The movement has become institutionalized here in the United States by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, which is the United States delegate to the World Kindness Movement, founded in Japan in 1997. The mission of the World Kindness Movement is “to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world. So far 20 countries participate in the movement.
However, the heart of the movement is the millions of Random Acts of Kindness that have been offered by people from all over the world, united in their belief that kindness can change the world.
So Jesus sends his disciples out, trusting both God and the Jews along the way to provide them with directions, feed them, and house them. There might also be someone who will rescue them from danger or save them from arrest. And still others may provide a word of encouragement, a smile, or a glass of cold water. Jesus says everyone involved will receive a reward.
What kind of reward will the person offering a cold glass of water receive? Well, if the reward is proportionate to the service provided, then the reward might be the one in Proverbs 25:25 – “Hearing good news from a distant land is like a drink of cold water when you are dry and thirsty.” Fellowship and good conversation!!
Also, the person offering water to the disciples will add to his “riches in heaven” that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount (see Day 45). He will have the satisfaction of knowing that he has helped someone.
But of course the ultimate reward is a better world. All will share in the bigger reward when the Kingdom of God is established on earth. We can all help make this happen. We all have a role to play.
As for me, I’ve learned to step up when I see a need, but I’ve never really concentrated on this random kindness thing. Kindness, yes. Random, no. I am steeped in Midwestern culture, and we tend to be pretty intentional and goal oriented. Creativity, whimsy, and spontaneity are not our strengths. So I need to break out of my training and develop a more serendipity mindset. I think I can do better!
No one needs to do everything, but everyone needs to do something to make the world a better place. Jesus says that even the smallest acts of kindness, like offering someone a glass of water, are important. He believes in God’s abundance, but he also believes in the power of ordinary people to change the world through the cumulative effect of small things. He believes in each of us and the great capacity for love and kindness that we have inherited from our Father God.
So we should all resolve to get out there and do something nice just for the heck of it. It’s fun. And the cherry on the sundae is that Jesus promises that every good deed will be rewarded. Even more fun.
What does this scripture say to you?