February 17 is National Random Acts of Kindness Day in the United States. The idea behind the day is to look for ways to be kind to other people including strangers throughout the day. These acts are planned in that we are looking for an opportunity to be kind, but they are also unplanned (random) in that we don’t necessarily predetermine who we will express kindness to. The original idea also carried a sense of anonymity to the act, free of selfies or social media posts about helping someone.
In 2 Samuel, we find David performing an act of kindness that went way beyond any random act we might undertake on a cold February day. David’s act is distinguished in at least three ways. First of all, David’s act was intentional. David made a promise to Jonathan (see 1 Sam. 20:42) and he sought to keep that promise by caring for the descendants of his friend. David was not looking to show kindness to just anyone, he was seeking descendants of Jonathan.
Secondly, David’s intentional act was undeserved. Mephiboseth had been carried away as a child to protect his life. In the process, he was injured and became crippled. At that time, kings generally did not welcome crippled people into their court. On top of that, a new ruling family usually meant death for any descendants of the former king. What David was doing went against social expectations. Mephiboseth could only expect the worse as he approached David. David chose to offer undeserved grace.
Third, David’s undeserved intentional act was long term. Most random acts of kindness are one-time acts with minimal expectations for a repeated act the next day. David put a plan in place that would provide for Mephiboseth for years to come. This was no one-time act, but a series of acts that looked beyond the immediate need.
David’s act of kindness was unique. He did not perform some random act that took little effort. Instead, the kindness shown to Mephiboseth was intentional, undeserved, and long-term which set this act apart from other acts of kindness posted on social media today.
What acts of kindness can we take that are intentional, undeserved, and long-term?