Recently, I officiated at the funeral for Ralph, a beloved church Elder. Even though I trust in God and know the promises of Christ, it is tough to let him go from this earthly life. I always enjoyed being around him. He was one of those rare people who made me feel better simply by being around him. He had an easygoing smile, a friendly handshake and he always had time for others. He truly seemed to care more for others than himself. He liked to bring a little sunshine into others’ darkness.
Just a few years ago, I went to see Ralph when he was in the hospital. When I arrived, his brother-in-law, Curtis, was sitting beside him. Or maybe I have it backwards. Perhaps Ralph was visiting Curtis. Time has passed, and my memory is fuzzy on some of the details of that visit. However, I remember clearly sitting down and talking with both of them. I always enjoyed hanging out with those two guys and having lunch. So, we were having a good time and laughing during that hospital visit.
During our conversation, a nurse walked in and did everything she needed to do. After she left, Ralph, Curtis and I just stared at each other. Finally, I said, “Boys, that was one of the prettiest nurses I have ever seen!” They both grinned and nodded.
The next day, I returned to the hospital to visit again and it was déjà vu. Ralph and Curtis were in their same spots from the day before and, right on cue, the same nurse walked in. Only this time, she stopped and patted me on the shoulder, saying, “Aren’t you sweet! I heard you said I was the prettiest nurse you’ve ever seen. You made my day!” After she left, I knew who had told on me. I said, “Ralph, why did you tell her what I said?” He simply grinned and said, “I thought it would make her day better.”
Ralph was always trying to find a way to make someone’s day better. It almost seemed to be a mission that he was on. I have long wished to emulate that way of living. I believe that God not only wants each of us to have blessed lives, but to be a blessing to others we come across. That is what I think Paul was trying to communicate in Philippians 2.
Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV) Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
I think we don’t often realize the ability and the power we possess to help other people every day. It doesn’t usually take much to cheer someone up, make them believe in themselves or to strive for more. It typically only requires a smile, a kind word or a small gesture. We can do all these things. I would encourage you to find you own way to light up the world with these acts of random kindness. Not only will it greatly please God, but it can change people’s lives!