From December 9 until today I have taken part in a local campaign called “12 Days for Good” in partnership with the charity House of Friendship. Of course, the “12 Days” alludes to the popular seasonal song in which a “true love” gives unusual gifts, but it also parallels the number of days that volunteers are engaged in preparing Christmas hampers for the needy in the community.
I have some mixed reactions to my involvement in this campaign.
- I was inspired to spend a day volunteering when I otherwise might not have put it into my schedule.
- Knowing that over 280 others were committed to making a positive difference in their community was also encouraging, along with the daily profiles of “do-gooders” I didn’t know before.
- I found myself counting my good deeds in the same way a miser counts up his money. This is the opposite of not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3).
- The campaign encouraged participants to share what they were doing on social media. Again, this smacks of seeking our own glory. “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).
I wonder if we’re at a point in our culture where the word “good” needs to be defined. Originally pointing at moral excellence, “good” today has become mediocre. The kinds of things that some people consider “good deeds” make me give my head a shake. I read last month of a woman with a website about the good deeds she does. She, among other things, lifts her skirt to flash men in wheelchairs. Can we call this “good”? If our motivation is to be noticed or to receive kick-backs of any kind, is our act truly unselfish? Actually, this is not a new question. The writers of a 16th century tool for teaching truths to young people also asked, “What do we do that is good?” The answer is:
“Only that which arises out of true faith,
conforms to God’s law, and is done for his glory;
and not that which is based on what we think is right
or on established human tradition.”
Another healthy perspective about good deeds comes from the classic devotional book entitled “My Utmost for His Highest.” The author states: “The right thing to do with godly habits is to immerse them in the life of the Lord until they become such a spontaneous expression of our lives that we are no longer aware of them.” Helping others and seeking opportunities to serve as a way of life 365 days a year comes from surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ, not from checklists or whims.