Last Updated on July 31, 2020
Let’s talk about how Christians can use random acts of kindness to share the love of Jesus.
In this post, we’re going to talk about what people mean when they say “random acts of kindness.” Then we’ll hit on ways that we can do these things to show the love in Jesus in both word and deed.
Lastly, we’ve put together a list of 50 random acts of kindness for Christians that you can use as a springboard to share the love of Jesus with those around you.
Let’s get to it!
What Are Random Acts of Kindness?
Random acts of kindness are simple and selfless acts that show generosity and care towards people in unexpected ways.
The phrase originated when Anne Herbert tweaked a line from a newspaper describing “random violence and senseless acts of cruelty” and reworked it to say, “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”
Skip to the end to see our list of 50 random acts of kindness ideas.
How should I do Random Acts of Kindness in a way that shows the love of Jesus?
There are many creative ways to show the love of Jesus through “random acts of kindness.” The basic principles, I think, are to 1) give generously of your wealth, 2) give generously of your time, and 3) personalize it with the gospel.
I think that when you give generously of your time and wealth, you create a personal connection, which in turn provides the opportunity to share the gospel.
Let’s take a look at these, but first I’ll address a couple of objections.
Objections: (Not So) Random Acts of Kindness
First of all, there’s a bit of debate about the value of random acts of kindness. Since they are, by definition, random, what does it really do? What purpose does it serve? And for Christians, is there really a value in giving apart from the gospel?
Let’s not overthink this, people. The Bible calls us to be gracious and generous. We’re called to love and serve others. We’re told specifically that love is kind. So I don’t think it takes a theology degree to realize that small acts of kindness are a natural by-product of a loving heart.
You can smile at the store clerk and give them a compliment. Of course that doesn’t take away your duty to evangelize the lost or your obligation to love and serve the church or your responsibility to give of your abundance in big and consistent ways. But you’re not being any less like Jesus when you smile at people and treat them well. That’s a random act of kindness, yes, but it’s not really so random because it’s the overflow the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification.
Also, some people are put off by the word “random.” But by thinking about, preparing for, and planning these small acts of kindness, it’s not really random, is it? These are opportunities for you to intentionally love others, even if they are strangers.
At the same time, don’t use these sorts of things as substitutes for preaching the gospel or contributing to the needs of the saints (aka tithing). Some people do random acts of kindness instead of giving to the church and sharing the gospel. It should be in addition to.
So please, don’t overthink this kind of thing. Just think of it as another way to love Jesus and love others.
Let’s talk about how to do this.
A) Give Generously of Your Wealth
You are wealthy.
Sure, maybe you have a tough time making ends meet. (I’ve been there, multiple times.) Maybe you are out of a job, or scraping your way through college, or facing huge medical bills. Or perhaps you are just an average Joe (or Jane) with an average job and average bills. Or maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum and are financially set for life.
In any of those cases, and in every other possibility, you are still wealthy.
Not because you are an American. Not because you are in a first-world country. And definitely not because you have a particular number of commas in your bank account balance.
No, you are wealthy because you are a child of the King.
I know you have heard that one before. But let it really sink in for a minute.
Hopefully you are already part of the way down this road. In fact, you probably are, because you’re reading an article on Random Acts of Kindness. That means you get that you live in abundance and are looking for ways to give. Nice!!
Still… take another minute and let the thought marinate. You are a child of the King of the universe, with an eternal inheritance that will never diminish, fade, or tarnish.
So because of this eternal reality, you really can give of your wealth. God will provide. Yes, give within your means. Yes, use your brain and budget and all that good stuff.
The takeaway is this: If you are going to give, give well.
All the random acts of kindness below can be done well or poorly. In honor of Jesus, my plea to you is to do what you do well.
Are you inviting someone to dinner? Get the good ingredients. Get champagne. Make sure there is enough. You can have a fancy restaurant cater, or you can do your specialty of grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Whether your budget can take a fancy night out on the town or only humble sandwiches, do what you do with the best you can. Skip your Starbucks for a couple of days so you can afford that little something extra. You know what this means for your situation.
B) Give Generously of Your Time
Giving stuff is easy. The hard part, for many of us, involves giving up our time.
We need “me time.” (Or so we think.) We need to spend time with our families. (Which, yes, we totally should. But that so easily becomes an excuse.) Gotta put in overtime to please the boss and line up that promotion, or to pay off that loan for the boat. Gotta catch up on the latest episode of that TV series so we have something to talk about with friends.
You know the answer to most of this kind of thing. No, we don’t **need** all that time. Some time for all these things, sure. But you and I both know we use these morally-neutral things to avoid doing the more difficult things.
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Our time is given to us by our heavenly Father, who gives and takes away as he pleases. When you stand before him on the last day, what will really matter? What will you wish you had done?
Why not do it now?
Plus, giving our time is so much more effective than just giving stuff like money or buying a lunch or paying off a bill. Those things are certainly needed at times – and my family has been blessed by those “random acts of kindness” many times. But I think we all intuitively know that personal interaction is way more powerful than giving money or stuff.
I could dig up all the facts and figures, but if you’ve tracked with me this far I don’t think I need to. You and I know it’s true: Spending quality time with someone has a far greater effect than a material gift.
C) Personalize It With the Gospel
In the list below, I’m not going to spell out exactly how to share the gospel using these ideas. For most of these random acts of kindness, the gift or act itself is the main thing.
But do not fall into the trap of that terrible old saying, so often attributed to St. Francis. “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.” Nope. That’s rubbish.
We do not preach with our deeds apart from the actual telling of the gospel. Our preaching is certainly backed up by good deeds, but we should not separate the two.
We should be ready at all times to show love to others through good works, and we should be ready at all times to share the gospel. It is not either/or, it is both/and.
So make sure that actually sharing the story of Jesus and what he has done on the cross is a part of your random acts of kindness. You don’t want to be forced or overly preachy, but at the same time you should make clear that your love is rooted in the gospel and in the love of Jesus.
Most of these ideas are 1) a gift, 2) an act of service, or 3) a time of conversation and relationship building.
For gifts, leave a note attached that says why you are doing this – to share the love of Jesus.
For an act of service, either leave a note or simply tell the person why.
And for relationship building, think through things like the gospel story, why you believe what you believe, your testimony, and questions to ask to get to know and understand the person.
These will all provide ways to share the gospel through your random act of kindness.
OK, ready? Here we go!
50 Random Acts of Kindness
- Invite someone over for dinner and provide wonderful food
- Invite someone over for a backyard BBQ or fire pit
- Send a “just because” card with a personal handwritten message
- Leave laundry detergent tied with a ribbon, a note of love, and a bag of quarters at the laundromat
- Make cookies for someone – neighbor, coworker, a favorite cashier
- Bring coffee or tea to the staff at your child’s school
- Bring donuts or cupcakes to the janitorial staff at work or school
- Take a plate of cookies to your neighbors, and spend a few minutes talking to them and getting to know them
- Ding dong ditch someone. Leave a box of Ding Dongs (and maybe some other cool stuff) and literally ring their doorbell and scram
- Drop off a hot meal for someone who is ill, lost a loved one, or just came home from the hospital (call first to arrange!)
- Mail a gift card to someone going through a rough season
- Buy a gift card at a bookstore and leave it in a book
- Bring someone takeout from their favorite restaurant
- Put together a meal that doesn’t need refrigeration and drop if off on someone’s doorstep
- Send flowers to someone
- Leave $2 in the Redbox case when you return the disc. Include a note that says “Your movie night is on us! Just a tiny way to show you the love of Jesus” or something like that. Make sure you don’t cover the part of the disc that gets scanned though, or you’ll just be giving it to the Redbox attendant! (Who might be the one who needs it…….)
- Mow your neighbor’s lawn
- Rake your neighbor’s leaves
- Shovel your neighbor’s driveway and/or walkway
- Weed your neighbor’s flower garden
- Take out your neighbor’s bins on trash day
- Distribute coloring books and crayons in the local ER or urgent care waiting room
- Leave a thank-you note for service professionals like the garbage collector, mail carrier, UPS/FedEx drivers, and so on
- Write and send a card to a hospitalized child. Note that most hospitals and card sending programs don’t allow religious messages or references on the cards
- Leave an encouraging note on a car windshield in the parking lot
- Tell someone about what makes them special to you
- Write to soldiers overseas
- Buy a gift through Compassion International for needs such as a baby’s medical care, food for a malnourished child, or HIV/AIDS care. Compassion’s gifts are provided through staff, volunteers, and local churches who seek to show compassion in Jesus’ name
- Support a child through Compassion International (or other similar organizations). The neat thing about Compassion is that not only do they try to connect children with local churches, they also encourage you to write to the child and you can share the gospel that way
- Make pillowcase dresses to send to children in Africa
- Donate blood
- Offer to babysit so a couple you know can have a date night
- Offer to babysit the kids of a single mom so she can go shopping or just have a few hours to herself (make this a regular thing!)
- Mentor a young adult
- Offer a free class to kids (or beginner-level adults) on a topic in which you are skilled or knowledgeable: crochet, history, meal planning, budgeting, soccer, art, photography, woodworking, car maintenance, etc
- Make and give out homeless care kits
- Donate your used clothing and household goods to a local homeless shelter, mission, or thrift store
- Pay the toll or entry fee for the person behind you
- Pay the bill for that family with all the young kids at the restaurant
- Keep an extra umbrella in your car to give to someone when it’s raining
- Help someone move
- Talk to someone on the street. Buy them a meal, hang out with them, give them a hug or an affirming touch
- Go talk to the person sitting all by themselves at church, in the lunchroom, or at a party
- Learn how to garden so you can connect with a lonely neighbor who is always working on their yard
- Look for opportunities to compliment someone. I’m always surprised at how my wife will notice and compliment, say, a grocery checkout person’s earrings or hair. They are always blessed by it!
- Tape coins onto a hospital vending machine to bless the next person
- During the holidays, put together Christmas shoe boxes filled with toys for children around the world. Find out more at Samaritan’s Purse
- Connect with a missionary family serving abroad and find out ways to help them: send books and seasonings they can’t get where they are, help them with their website, etc
- If you have a friend or relative who has lost a loved one, note the day of that person’s death and remember to send a card, gift, or encouraging text on the anniversary of their loved one’s death (read more here)
- Bury a little “treasure box” (a small plastic container) at the playground with a few tiny toys or coins and a gospel note about real treasure (think Matthew 13:44-46)
More Random Acts of Kindness
Remember, please don’t limit your acts of kindness to only situations where you can verbalize the gospel. If you do so, you’ll probably miss a lot of opportunities to build relationships.
On the other hand, don’t allow yourself to think that you’re fulfilling the Great Commission to share the good news by an act of kindness without ever actually talking about Jesus.
We need both. I think that the best approach is to
- Plan “random” acts of kindness that embed a gospel presentation so that you
- Train yourself to be ready to give, serve, show love, or preach in every season or circumstance, and as you do so you will
- Become the sort of person for whom Jesus-like acts of kindness become a natural thing
What are some more ways to show the love of Jesus through random acts of kindness? Leave a comment below!