I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly. (NIV) Psalm 40:10
We love to see people who are full of themselves taken down a notch, don’t we? In the Bible, this story is labeled “Naaman Healed of Leprosy,” and we love the irony of God healing this powerful military man through people and actions he thinks are beneath him. The story really starts, however, with the courage of a nameless captive girl. Make no mistake, this girl was in a bad situation. She had been forcibly stolen from her home by a band of foreign raiders and carted off to be a slave. But somehow, she maintained her faith and her compassion, even for her enemies. That is truly miraculous power.
And she did not just hold this power in her heart—she did something. She said something out loud. I don’t know about you, but I have lots of great intentions and instincts to do good things, but I often talk myself out of them because of fear. Certainly this girl had real reason to fear saying the wrong thing or saying anything at all. We don’t know from the story whether mentioning Elisha was a formal discussion with her mistress or a comment in passing, but God used her courage to put into motion a chain of events that affected whole kingdoms. Small actions have power in God’s hands.
We still glorify obvious power in our society, but we can model and encourage God’s power working through us in small ways.
Model: Go beyond the mere inclination to do something good and act. Don’t let fear or uncertainty hold you back. Give a compliment to a stranger. Take the time to write the note. Stop and talk to the neighbor. Let the car merge in front of you (even if they skipped ahead). Ask the struggling parent if they need help. God’s power uses small acts in ways we cannot imagine, but only if they make it out of our heads and into the world.
Encourage: The problem with small actions is that we often don’t know their impact. Though we can trust God to use them, it’s encouraging to occasionally be reminded that they make a difference.
Talk through your actions with your children:
“Mr. Brown looked so upset, I knew I had to stop. I know we may be a little late now for ____, but it was worth it to talk and pray with him for those minutes.”
Also, point out when the small actions of others make a difference for you.
“That smile just made my morning.”
“When I got that note from my client, I put it on my desk to remind me of the importance of being kind to everyone.”
Showing the effort and impact of small actions makes them easier to do the next time.
Plan: Brainstorm with your child about ways they can make someone’s day better. Start by remembering something that had encouraged them (or you), and then go from there. Remind them of what God’s power can do with small moments.
Ask your children, “How often do we think that what we have to offer doesn’t have much value?” or “How often do we keep quiet about our faith because we worry others might make fun of us or ignore us?” Talk about what to do when it’s time to speak up. Let’s pray to have the courage and faith of this young woman.
Want to do a deep dive? Check out the Today Devotional Practicing Goodness and Family Fire's How to Care for Hurting People: Showing Empathy.