If you want to know something about people just take a look at the stickers on their car.

Often you can tell which university they have an allegiance to, how big their family is, what church they attend, whether their child is a terrific kid or honor student, what kind of dog they have, and whether they think their dog is smarter than your honor student. That one is funny.

Others will give you an insight into their philosophy on life. One in particular comes to mind. It is a bumper sticker that reads; “Practice Random Acts of Kindness.” I like that one. A few examples of this have recently been reported on in the media. One mother, preparing her son for the start of the new school year, offered to make him a shirt he could wear. It could have anything he wanted on it – a basketball theme, football, etc.

He thought about it and then asked that his shirt say “I will be your friend.” He told his mother that he wanted the kids who needed a friend to know that he was there for them. How incredibly kind. A few weeks earlier, another news story told of a family shopping for back-to-school clothes. The daughter asked her mother if they could purchase a new pair of shoes for a classmate who couldn’t afford them. The mother agreed, and then did an incredibly gracious, if not extraordinary thing. She purchased the entire inventory of the store. This family will now be donating, not one pair, but more than 1,500 pairs of shoes to those who are needy. Wow.

Of course, kindness and a pair of shoes went viral here not long ago, when a young man at Greenwood High School thought enough of a classmate to buy him a pair of new shoes. He did this to make his classmate, who was being bullied by others, feel better. How compassionate. If you happen to drive down Grace Street toward the intersection with Cambridge, notice on the left that one of our neighbors is practicing a random, and yet deliberate act of kindness, by offering free bottles of water for those who are walking during these hot, hot summer days. Each of these acts of kindness shows us how best to live our lives.

So, what if we all bought into this? What if, instead of being so self-consumed by our own wants and desires, we chose rather to acknowledge and honor those around us. What if we made that our daily goal? Would evil be eliminated from the earth? No. But I bet the news dominating the headlines would be less dreadful. As a Christian, I am drawn to God’s word, which calls me to this kind of selfless lifestyle that honors Jesus above all, but others just the same. The words of a man named Paul reminds us of this. In a letter to his friends in Rome, Paul wrote that they should “love one another with brotherly affection.” He then writes that they should “outdo one another in showing honor.” The same words still hold true for us. We are to “honor others above ourselves.” Kindness happens when we put others, and their needs before our own. It happens, as well, when others put us before themselves. Think about the last random act of deliberate kindness that was done for you, and how it made you feel.

If we want Greenwood to be a kinder, gentler Greenwood, then we must begin to take responsibility for our words and actions. If we would stop focusing on ourselves, and instead look first to the needs of others, then the culture here would change dramatically. It might not be overnight. But it would change, and for the better. So let me ask you a question. Whose with me? Who will commit today, and in the days ahead, to look first to the needs of others, and then practice deliberately random acts of kindness? Will it be you?

Chris Leonard is a pastor at Rock Presbyterian ECO. He can be reached at cleonard@rpcgwd.org