(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)
Looking out for number one has been wired into every human since sin entered the world. And in today’s world of selfies, personal brands and influencers, it’s never been more magnified. But, what would happen if we turned the camera around and started seeing ‘others’ instead of being so focused on ourselves?
Like every nation in the world, our nation has special days that we celebrate. When we name a celebratory day, like Mother’s Day, what we’re saying is mothers are important. Let’s do something memorable and kind for Mother. Or we celebrate fathers on Father’s Day. We’re saying fathers are important, and let’s do something memorable and thoughtful for fathers.
What would happen if we created a celebratory day called Others’ Day? A day where we focus on random acts of kindness for someone, whether in a family, a company, a job, a stranger or a friend.
To unpack the significance of kindness, I want to bring you into the life of King David. Here’s the setting, David is now the king of Israel, the second king. He had defeated the main enemies of the nation, the Philistines, the Moabites and the Arameans. The Scripture tells us that in every place where David went, God gave him victory. David was experiencing peace. The nation of Israel was experiencing peace. David was living large at that time. And then something happened in his heart.
In 2 Samuel 9:1, David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake? Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “At your service,” he replied. The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He’s at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” So, King David, had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “At your service,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather, Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the King’s sons. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the King’s table; he was lame in both feet.”
Now, let’s take a step back so you can see the journeying that happened in David’s heart to bring him to that place, to talk about doing an act of kindness.
David was the second king of Israel. The first king, Saul, was a very wicked king. And at one point, he was envious and jealous of David. His envy drove him to pursue David, scholars say, for 10 years in an attempt to kill him. At one point, in an attempt to escape Saul’s desperate attempts to kill him, David lived in Philistine territory for 18 months. It was so bad that Saul also made threats against David’s mom and dad. As a result, David had his mother and father go and live with the king of Moab among the Moabites for a certain period of time. So, that’s the backdrop.
Saul’s son, Jonathan and David were best friends and Jonathan was a source of strength for David. But Jonathan and his father Saul were killed on the same day when they were fighting the Philistines. When the nurse that was taking care of Mephibosheth, who was five years old at the time, heard the news that Saul, Mephibosheth’s grandfather, and Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father, were killed, she grabbed up Mephibosheth because she knew that his life was going to be jeopardized because he was perhaps destined for the throne, to become the king.
The nurse picked up Mephibosheth and started to run with him and Mephibosheth accidentally fell out of our arms, and that is where he got hurt and injured on both legs. He was crippled for the rest of his life.
Think about how wicked Saul behaved towards David, but yet David was doing so well. David recognized that you couldn’t do well unless you do good.
And so it began to just percolate in his heart and soul. And then he started asking the question, “Is there anyone here of Saul’s household that I can show kindness to?” Kindness begins in the heart.
Why show kindness?
We see that David had to acknowledge gratitude and thankfulness to God. God had been so kind to him. God had helped him to escape Saul’s clutches. God had helped him to defeat the Philistines, Moabites, Arameans and all of these treacherous foes of Israel.
And God had given him peace so that the nation was happy with David’s leadership. David’s philosophy of leadership had to broach beyond just warfare and conquering. It had to move into this territory of, if you’re going to do well do good.
Are you doing well? Then do good. When I read 2 Samuel 9:3 again, it says: The king asked, “Is anyone left in Saul’s family? I want to show God’s kindness to that person.” Ziba answered the king, “Jonathan has a son still living who’s crippled in both feet.”
Kindness is a choice that you make to do something good, something positive for someone, without any thought of reciprocity or any thought of what you’ll get back. Kindness simply says there’s compassion in my heart for someone else—a stranger, a friend—and I want to do something that reflects my gratitude to God.
And David asked the question: Is there anyone left of Saul’s family that I can show God’s kindness to? That’s a whole other dimension of kindness. It comes from a love based on a covenant relationship. What David was saying is this: I was in a covenant relationship with Jonathan. A covenant relationship is a deep bond where we connect, or we commit to do something or not to do something.
What David was saying is this: Jonathan was so good to me during his lifetime. He helped me out a lot of messes, even with his own father. And so now that Jonathan’s dead, things are going well for me. Is there anyone still left in Saul’s family that I can show God’s kindness to?
We should have the same mindset.
And the covenant relationship is not necessarily an earthly friend, it’s our covenant relationship with Jesus. When I think about what Jesus has done for me, I have to learn to model and practice random acts of kindness more consistently. Why? Because that’s how Jesus wants us to live.
Practicing kindness points to Jesus being Lord of your life.
So, why show kindness? Kindness reflects gratitude to God. But there’s another benefit.
Kindness has excellent health benefits.
A lot of academic research points to all of the medicinal effects you’ll receive. When you practice kindness you increase your self-esteem, empathy and compassion. Kindness has been shown to decrease blood pressure and cortisol, which is a stress hormone which directly impacts stress levels. Maybe you’re so stressed out because you need to act more kindly towards others. Maybe you need to provide and perform more random acts of kindness to lower your blood pressure. You may say, well, that is ludicrous. But think about it. When someone acts kind to you, it almost makes you forget some of your troubles. It makes you forget some of the situations you’re going through.
Kindness affects memory. It makes us both remember what people have done for us and it makes us forget some of the pain we’re going through. Kindness also enhances relationships with others by increasing your sense of connectivity with them, directly impacting loneliness.
Kindness affects your mood level. Physiologically, research shows that kindness boosts serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters in the brain give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being. In other words, when you practice kindness, you feel better about yourself. You’ll feel better about life, and relationships will go better. Kindness does all of that.
Here’s another reason to show kindness. Kindness is redemptive. It has redemptive power to it. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven.”
Kindness points people to the living God. It’s the loving-kindness of God that leads a man to redemption or to repentance. Your kind act is redemptive in power. Maybe if you start to practice more random acts of kindness with your children, spouse, roommate and your neighbors, you’ll find that their hearts will open up. Not only to you but even to the gospel and the Lord.
Kindness is very powerful.
David had to come to the place in doing well and he wanted to do good and show kindness.
Kindness notices others. It says, in essence, I see you and you matter to me. Kindness is what David was looking for. He asked, “Is there anyone still left of Saul’s household that I can show God’s kindness to?” And Ziba says, “Yes Jonathan had a son and he’s still alive and he’s crippled.” They say that because in that society, being physically challenged was looked down upon. It was something that created disrespect and dishonor, it’s almost as if you’re pushed to the side.
Mephibosheth was not doing well financially. He didn’t live like a prince. He had none of the trappings that reflected that he was a former prince, that he’s someone from a royal family. In fact, Scripture says that he was living in Lo Debar which means a place of nothing. In fact, scholars say it was a ghetto town in Israel.
So here’s Mephibosheth living in a ghetto community being put up in someone’s home, who feels sorry for him. And that’s how he’s living.
He can’t fend for himself because he doesn’t have the physical abilities to be able to generate any significant source of income. So he’s this recipient of pity and mercy. And all of a sudden, one day as he is in the home of Makir, this chariot pulls up in front of their house. And suddenly a person comes out—decked to the nines—dressed as someone who works for the royal family. He comes to the door and announces why he is there. King David has sent me to summon Mephibosheth to the capital, to his palace in Jerusalem.
Mephibosheth is shocked. What’s going on? Mephibosheth understands that when kings come into their place of the throne to reign, they kill off their predecessor’s relatives, particularly the male relatives.
I’m sure Mephibosheth is afraid but he gets himself cleaned up, puts on his best clothes and he gets whisked away to the capital. He goes into the palace and David says, “Are you Mephibosheth?” And Mephibosheth responds, “I am. I’m your servant.”
David said to him, “Don’t be afraid, because I will certainly extend kindness to you for the sake of Jonathan, your father. I will give back to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you’ll be a regular guest at my table.” Then Mephibosheth bowed and said, “Of what importance am I, your servant, that you show regard for a dead dog like me?”
The last time Mephibosheth was in a palace was when he was 5 years old, and his grandfather’s palace paled in comparison to David’s palace. And David says, don’t be afraid, I want to show you kindness. It didn’t cost him anything to show God’s kindness to Mephibosheth, but he saw him.
David said, on top of that, not only will I restore all the lands of your grandfather, I’m going to have Ziba work the farms. You’re going to have a livelihood and won’t have to depend on anyone else, any longer. You are going to look the part of a prince, and you are going to have the means of a prince. I want you to eat at my table every day here in Jerusalem. In other words, I want you to be one of the princes.
Here’s a guy that was living on the scraps and pity of someone, and then David, the mighty king, the most powerful person on the planet at that time, extends kindness to Mephibosheth. I want you to see that showing kindness, most of the time, costs us nothing.
Kindness is about seeing people. Who do you see?
When you think about showing kindness to people, it starts with, I see you.
What would happen if you started seeing people?
And that’s where I now frame this question. Why Others’ Day? Why create this Others’ Day?
Imagine the internal change that began with Mephibosheth that day when David extended kindness to him. David had created an Others’ Day when he said to Mephibosheth, look, you’re not a dead dog, you’re a living man. Discouragement is not your descriptor, encouragement shall be.
I want you to recognize kind acts stem from a kind heart. Kindness changes lives. And when David extended kindness to Mephibosheth that day, what I will call Others’ Day, Mephibosheth’s life was transformed.
Now let’s get down to brass tacks. I’d love for you to participate in what I’m calling Others’ Day. It’s a one-day focus where we’re displaying random acts of kindness for someone who’s not expecting it. It could be a person that’s in your family. It could be a friend. It could be a coworker. It could be a roommate. It could be a total stranger. It’s about a random act of kindness, but it stems from something deeper. It’s from the biblical passage of Hebrews 13:16 that says, “We will show mercy to the poor and not miss an opportunity to do acts of kindness for others, for these are the true sacrifices that delight God’s heart.”
So, Others’ Day is when you select a day to perform random acts of kindness of all sizes. Are you ready to jump-start a cultural practice and a lifestyle behavior?
Visit the Christ Church website to learn more and access free resources.