Updated: Apr 4, 2020
In the book of Acts there are many stories of the apostles doing acts of kindness for different people. However, tucked in a little section at the end of chapter 9 and the beginning of chapter 10 are the stories of two non-apostles whose stories are told based on their own acts of kindness.
The first is a woman named Tabitha, also called Dorcas, which both translate to "gazelle". In Acts 9:36 it tells us that Tabitha "was full of good works and charity". She was a kind woman, and by the fact that Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us that both her names means "gazelle" I bet she was speedy about doing the acts of kindness. ("You are swift, like a gazelle.") We find out in verse 37 that "she became ill and died", therefore Peter was sent for and when he arrives he finds the widows mourning and "showing tunics and other garments Dorcas made while she was with them". Remember how we just read in James about caring for orphans and widows? This is exactly what Dorcas was doing! Her "good works and charity" were to those God has told us to show kindness to. Peter walks into her room and miraculously tells her to "arise" and when she does the people are told and begin to rejoice. This kind and caring woman of God was given back to them!
At the beginning of chapter 10 we find a man named Cornelius. He was a centurion, a Roman commander of 100 soldiers from the Italian Cohort. The Bible tells us that he also was "a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God". Cornelius was a Gentile, a group of people to whom God has not opened the Gospel yet. However, God was about to change all of that. In verse 3 God appeared to Cornelius and in verse 4 He said to Cornelius "Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God." And then God proceeded to tell Cornelius to send for Peter. You see, God had seen Cornelius' kindness to the people and his devotion to God. God saw that He was ready to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result Cornelius became the first Gentile to respond to the Gospel message and through this God opened the door to all Gentiles, like you and me.
Both of these are recorded because of acts of kindness done by ordinary individuals like you or me. This fourth fruit of the Spirit is where we show our love for God in tangible ways. Acts of kindness can be praying with someone, giving to others, making things for those in need, or any other act that shows another you love God and love them. James 2:17 tells us, "if it [faith] does not have works, [it] is dead." James tells us in verses 14-16 if we say we have faith it should show in our acts of kindness. In verse 18 he says, "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
Note that faith comes from first, for without faith in Christ I can do nothing. After I come to that saving faith in Christ, the way I show it is through my actions. My acts of kindness.
So whose life will you impact today? How will you demonstrate the faith that you have? What skills has God given you to bless others? Ask God to show you those who you can impact with kindness today.