Thought for the Day - 31/05/2014 - Rev Roy Jenkins
Whenever an advertisement offers me something for nothing, my instinctive reaction is ‘What’s the catch?’ When it’s money being handed out, apparently for free, I know for certain that in one way or another, somebody’s trying to con me.
Which is why the report on this programme yesterday about the Hidden Cash project, said to be causing a social media frenzy in San Francisco, and now spreading to this country, was a useful brake on my scepticism. A man who’s done well on the property market is using Twitter to provide clues pointing towards the envelopes he’s stuffed with banknotes and left in public places.
They’ve been appearing taped to everything from bike racks to parking meters, and it’s first come, first served. So it’s hardly surprising that there are lots out searching. The anonymous benefactor sees this as a ‘social experiment for good’, a way both of giving back and of encouraging more random acts of kindness.
So maybe I was right: there is a catch, albeit a highly desirable one. Receiving kindness can make it more likely that we’ll start sharing it. As the Sunday School hymn used to put it, ‘Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on. ‘Twas not meant for thee alone, pass it on. Let it travel down the years, let it wipe another’s tears…’
But there’s more than a sense of moral obligation here. It’s not like being burdened with one of those old chain letters, which you really wanted to throw in the bin but felt some grim duty to land on someone else. When we appreciate what we’ve received, we want to give: there’s a multiplying effect at work.
We might not ‘pass it on’ in the same way. Random acts of kindness can be as varied as human imagination, and the will to seize opportunities. They can be as simple as spending time with someone who never gets a visitor, writing a note to tell a friend how much their support means to you, going out of your way to help a stranger who’s lost or confused. It might be an encouraging word which just lifts another person’s spirits for a day - or one that leads to a life being transformed.
Whatever it is, drill down, and we’re likely to find that, however unconsciously, we’re responding to something that’s been done for us. We’ve all been on the receiving end of undeserved generosity - from a host of people, for sure; and in Christian thinking above all from God. We love, says St.John, because he first loved us.
Jesus said that discovering the way of love he intends is like finding a priceless pearl. We’d empty our bank accounts for it. And for us that might or might not include random acts of kindness through anonymous white envelopes.
Available since: Mon 2 Jun 2014
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