Small Kindness, Big Impact

by Becky Keife October 27, 2021
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:15-17 (NIV)
Pinterest Image

The smell of coffee beans and cinnamon rolls wafted through the crowded terminal. Impatient passengers congregated near the gate, waiting for the airline employee to announce their boarding group. I was thrilled to be heading to a writers’ retreat, but flying is not my favorite activity.

I was already starting to feel anticipatory nausea (it’s a thing), and the loud shrieking nearby wasn’t helping. I looked over and saw a mom and toddler in front of a vending machine. The little boy stomped his feet until his mom handed him a bag of cookies.

Cookies at 8 a.m. aren’t going to help anyone! I thought.

Immediately, a pang of conviction trumped my snap judgment. Surely I have not been above doling out sugary snacks to my own kids to buy myself a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Lord, forgive me for being quick to judge. Please bless this mama with someone kind and loving to sit next to on the plane. Help her to see You in her day. Amen.

When we finally boarded the plane, I was surprised to find my entire row empty. As I shoved my backpack under the seat, I had a glorious vision: three hours of uninterrupted rest and productivity. With extra space, I’d be able to concentrate on preparing for the retreat and then catch a little snooze. I’d land ready and refreshed for all God had planned! I adjusted the air vent and closed the shutter. Deep breath. This might actually be a great flight.

Then there they were. A woman and a little boy with cookie crumbs on his chin, crawling into the seat next to me.

“I just want to apologize in advance,” his mother said softly.

And I knew. I knew God was answering my prayer for her. Be the blessing.

“Don’t even worry about it,” I said. “I have three boys. I know confined spaces can be tough.” She smiled weakly.

The next three hours were punctuated by screaming and squirming. When his mom tried to get the toddler to rest in her lap, his feet kicked against my thigh. When the cartoon on her phone ended, when she offered the wrong snack, when he dropped his toy car for the 14th time, the boy wailed. His mom stayed calm.

“You’re OK,” she said.

“You’re OK,” he repeated.

Somewhere between the complimentary pretzels and the woman in front of us glaring back again, I struck up a conversation. Typical questions: How old is your son? Do you have other kids? Are you headed home or going on a trip? The boy’s name was Jack. He just turned three and had two older step-siblings. They were on their way home.

“It’s not easy flying with a little one,” I said. “You’re doing a really great job.”

“Thanks”, she answered. “This is way better than last time. Jack got diagnosed with autism a couple of months ago. He’s not very verbal and gets easily frustrated. But he started therapy, and it’s really helping.”

I had hoped this flight would be a quiet space for me to work and rest. That didn’t happen. But I did catch a glimpse of Jesus.

The engines hummed louder as we made our final descent. Jack nuzzled closer to his mama. With a stranger’s tiny toes pressed against me, all I could think was: What if sometimes we’re supposed to be the answer to our prayer? What if we changed the way we prayed?

Instead of just “Lord, bless them,” we could also pray, “Lord, prepare me to be a blessing.”
Instead of just “Lord, show them kindness,” we could also pray, “Lord, empower me to be kind.”
Instead of just “Lord, provide,” we could also pray, “Lord, give me eyes to see and a willingness to give.”

In the book of James, we receive clear instructions not only to wish others well but to do something to meet the needs in front of us. James writes, Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:15-17).

The Message Bible says it like this: “Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” (James 2:17).

“Outrageous nonsense.” That might sound harsh, but I actually love how it strips off the filter of our nice words and good intentions and shines the light on what’s really important — how we live.

God gave us His Word to read and His Spirit to whisper to ours. But it’s not enough just to hear. Our faith grows legs for change when we turn that hearing into doing.

The small shift from self-focused to others-focused, from perception to action, is the beginning of the simple difference.

God, I confess my critical spirit. I’m sorry for the ways I put my own preferences and agenda above loving the people right in front of me. Help me to look for ways to be the blessing in someone’s day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


If you long to make a meaningful difference right where you are, using exactly what you have, grab a copy of Becky Keife’s new book, The Simple Difference: How Every Small Kindness Makes a Big Impact. And for a deeper look at what Scripture says about God’s heart for people and His invitation to partner with Him, check out the Courageous Kindness Bible Study.


Head over to Becky’s website to learn more about joining the Simple Difference movement, or say hello to Becky over on Instagram or at (in)courage.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of The Simple Difference by Becky Keife. To celebrate this book, Becky’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, November 1, 2021.}


1 Peter 3:8-9, “Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.” (NLT)

What’s one thing you can do to be the blessing to someone today?

© 2021 by Becky Keife. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

What We Believe

If your life feels too overwhelming, click here for our care and counseling resources.

Join the Conversation

Study Products

There are no products to display.