At the end of a Sunday evening dinner, some of us observed a resident taking the fresh flowers from several different tables. She assembled them into a small bouquet and left the dining room.
Each Monday, fresh flowers are placed on our dining room tables, so we weren't too upset. However, several of us labelled her "The Flower Thief".
When I confronted her about the accusation, she shared with me what she was doing. Apparently, one of her neighbours, celebrating her ninety-fifth birthday, was not feeling well enough to come down to dinner. Knowing that her neighbour loved flowers, she decided to accumulate a little bouquet and take it to her room. She wasn't really a "thief"; she was just thinking about how to cheer up someone else.
In further discussion regarding the incident, it became obvious that both the recipient and giver of this simple act received so much as a result of one person being kind to another. They both experienced joy.
It reminded me of a little chorus that I was taught as a young child, sung to the tune of Jingle Bells:
- J-O-Y J-O-Y
Surely this must mean
Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between.
As I pondered the two-way dimension of the explanation from "The Flower Thief", I entered my own suite and saw on the wall a plaque inherited from my grandmother, who died as a missionary in India in 1925, which has six simple letters: O-T-H-E-R-S.
The longer I live, the more that I learn the truth of the words written by Paul:
Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (NIV)
I learned two other profound truths from the simple act of kindness on the part of the "flower thief". Firstly, when we do something for others, we usually receive more blessing in return than the blessing that we give to the recipient.
Secondly, it is not necessary to do something big to be a blessing. Simple acts of kindness can be helpful. Even giving a smile rather than a frown can be a blessing. Certainly, this is something that each of us can do. It costs us nothing, yet can bring a surprisingly large reward — a smile in return!
Prayer: Dear Father, help us to think constantly of others, to turn our thoughts into actions, and to give to others without thought of any return. We know that we will then experience joy in return, knowing that we will be following the example of Jesus. Amen.