Seems pretty cut and dried, pretty obvious, doesn’t it? There is almost no commentary to such a simple, common sense point… except that doing good appears to have become a very complicated prospect.
Why? Well, here’s the list we came up with yesterday morning in worship:
- We don’t trust people
- We want to do good for people who deserve it
- We make judgments about the people we would do a good thing for
- We don’t have the time
- We don’t have the energy
- We don’t think it will be appreciated
- We don’t think it will make any difference
- We don’t want to be taken advantage of
- We don’t want to spend the money
- We’re not even considering anyone else because we’re so focused on ourselves
- We don’t want to be called a “do-gooder”
- We worry about what people with think about us
- We analyze the situation to death before doing anything and so sometimes manage to do nothing
I wish I could say that I’m better than this, but the reality is that I’ve been guilty of all of these at one time or another. Hey, acceptance is the first step toward recovery, right?
(For the full audio version, click here.)
One of the things that Mother Teresa was good at reminding the rest of us is that we get so caught up in judging others that we don’t try to understand. We get so caught up in our fear of others, that we forget that they are one of us.
Truly, it doesn’t take much to do good, and it may even brighten another’s day, or put a smile on someone’s face. It may even restore someone’s faith in humanity for a moment. Or it may have no visible effect… it really doesn’t matter because the real change is within ourselves. Doing good, even for a brief instant changes the way we perceive the world, the way we live, and the way we think of ourselves and the Divine.
When John Wesley first began to form societies of Methodists in 1739, those early folks decided they needed some rules (I’m not sure what they were thinking, but there you have it). Not bad rules, and not too many rules, but a few good rules. He came up with what Bishop Reuben Job has called Three Simple Rules:
Do No Harm
Stay in Love with God. (That’s a paraphrase by Bishop Job because no one really understands what “Attend all of the Ordinances of God” means).
In fact, John Wesley’s most famous quote is, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
So, I invite you to try this challenge for a week… try to live the injunction to “never grow tired of doing good.” Watch for the opportunities, don’t shoot them down in your head, pay attention to when you make judgments or excuses that keep you from doing good, and then let yourself do good without expectation. Remember it isn’t about others, it’s about us.