Who Is My Neighbor?

Kindness Can Become Habit Forming

A couple months ago I was in the drive-through line of a popular coffee shop. You know the one so I won’t give them a free commercial plug here. After having ordered my beverage, I pulled up to the window, the server hands me my coffee, and I held a five-dollar bill out the window to pay. Imagine my surprise when the server tells me, “Oh, there’s no charge. The lady in front of you took care of it. She said she just wanted to, ‘pay it forward.’”

I was so taken aback I simply said, “Why, THANK YOU!” and drove off. I didn’t even leave a tip in the jar, which was the least I could have done.

I didn’t know who the lady in front of me was. But for the rest of the day I couldn’t stop talking about it. I told my wife, who cynically said, “She probably saw that you were wearing a collar through the rear-view mirror and wanted to do a good deed for a pastor.”

My wife was kidding, of course, but I disagreed anyway. I called it a random act of kindness. And the simple gesture made by that unknown person on a Sunday afternoon has stayed with me.

Imagine what could be if everyone thought of someone else and decided to do something kind for them without expecting anything in return. It doesn’t have to be a financial favor but perhaps something like shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, or the sidewalk. When summertime comes, how many elderly people are there who need their lawns mowed and perhaps are at a point in their life where they just can’t physically do it anymore?

There’s an organization called the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation which I came across as I was looking for ideas. I don’t know much about it other than what is on their website.

They are not a religious organization, but by looking for and acting upon opportunities for service we are fulfilling one of the greatest Biblical commandments that we are given – that of “Loving your neighbor as yourself.” One of several references to that can be found in Matthew 19:19.

The late Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a nun who cared for people in India who suffered from leprosy, once said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we all can do small things with great love.”

What one thing can you do today or this week to have an impact on someone else? And consider how it can also change your life.

I say that because there is a strong possibility that it will change you. Do enough of them and your random acts can become more than random, they can become habits. Whether they do or not, you never know what effect your small gesture will have. One person’s small act of kindness had a profound impact on me, and I will never know who she was.

Pastor Abraham Allende


Pastor Abraham Allende of Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Maple Heights.Reverend Abraham Allende has been the Pastor of The Lutheran Church of the Covenant, 19000 Libby Road, in Maple Heights (map) since September of 2009 

 It is my goal through this writing, first and foremost, to glorify God and our Lord Jesus Christ; to draw you, the reader, into a greater awareness of God’s abiding presence in your life; and, hopefully, that through the thoughts expressed here, we may bring about positive change: change in your personal life, and change in the city of Maple Heights – a change that promotes hope and encouragement to the people who live in our neighborhoods and beyond.

Pastor Allende

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