One night, a lady pulled her SUV into our corner of the neighborhood. She went from recycle bins to bins with a bag, hoping to find bottles and cans. As I noticed her coming my way to check into our bin, I told her that I had bags of empty bottles in the garage and that if she wanted I could go get them for her. She stared at me with hesitation and finally said, “sure…” I opened the garage door and grabbed one large bag of empty water bottles and handed to her. I thanked her for taking them away from me since I’m not such a big fan of bringing the bottles to recycling centers myself due to the fact that it can be a very time-consuming ordeal for me. So she took the bag and emptied it into her bag and gave me the empty bag back saying, “I don’t need it. I got bags.” Those words of hers were the only words I heard from her from the time I offered the bottles to the time she walked away. No Thank-you, no Thanks.
I’m sure that there must have been occasions where you hand someone something, they look at you and thought twice before reluctantly and falsely accepting the gift or favor, or happily reject it.
When I first “heard”, truly heard the gospel, I took it upon myself to do one thing: share audio recordings of the book of Matthew on CDs in as many languages as available and happily share them with others. I remember one gentleman maybe of Spanish descent who was very thankful the next day he saw me. I remember church members who were very thankful the next Sunday’s they saw me. I also remember my acquaintance with one old Caucasian man who saw me, and bluntly told me “Get away from me!”, after I had asked him if he reads the Bible and whether therefore he’d be interested in this free copy of the book of Matthew.
Immigrants like Haitians in the diaspora often feel obligated to share some funds with old friends or relatives whenever they visit their homelands. What can be a shock at times is when such friends or relatives would feel entitled to higher amounts than whatever is offering to them as gifts and would therefore repugnantly reject or take it with disgust.
You don’t see me handing out CD’s anymore. You don’t see me seeking to share the gospel with those I have met anymore. All for one reason: I hate seeing the facial expressions someone rejecting something good. So I share the gospel in letters without having to see the facial reactions of others, being good or bad.
Christ once said,
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)
For as much as I’m ready to happily share the gospel, what would add to my joy is not only in the fact that I’m ready to give but also that others are ready to receive. And that’s why I have to follow not my anxiety to give, but the lead of the Holy Spirit to sow seed where good soil he has prepared is found.
Overwhelmed with joy, I can pour out like the rain. Overwhelmed with peace, I can shine like the sun. But when others manifest their lack of interest, I can only withhold my peace in Christ and enjoy Him myself at the very least.
Remember how this good deed by Jesus was received:
“When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.” (Mark 5:15-17)
The people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
Jesus came and resided in a natural body so that no one could have any excuse of either never seeing him or hearing about him. Everything that is written, the testimonies of his works, is done so that no one could an excuse for denying the fact that he once lived among us as any other human being. Every word of his having been shared were shared so that we hear what He had to say as another human being.
A man once tried to seemingly advocate for the poor in saying, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. ” (John 12:5)
And Jesus answered him, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:8)
And sure enough, that man did not always Jesus since he sold him off for pieces of silver. Even he wanted to take Jesus, he couldn’t. Only by faith can anyone always have Jesus.
When God was trying to help the people of Israel on how to live in Canaan, a land of abundance, a symbolic figure of Christ, he didn’t tell them to gather all for themselves. Instead he said,
“If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.” (Deuteronomy 15:7)
Yet, God also added:
“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)
With time, it came to be that while people possessed natural riches after riches, they were poor in love, they were poor in consideration for others.
Some were rich in materials. Others were rich in health. The healthy envy the wealth of the rich. The rich envy the health of the poor. Some were both poor in materials and health, but still rich in spirit for they were more forgiving, loving, considerate of others who seemed to have it all one way or another.
What would you call a good deed?
Is it a deed done in the hope of addressing a need of another?
What if the intended recipient doesn’t really welcome the deed or doesn’t see himself or herself as needy as you may have thought?
What if the deed is misunderstood to be evil rather than good?
What if the deed causes others to glorify and praise you as their provider and savior?
What if the deed is served to cause others to envy you or covet you?
What if the deed causes you to lose sleep and expose your health at risk?
There are statistics that show how depression is rampant among religious leaders. Their spouses are unhappy to see how ungrateful the treatments are. Their kids simply constantly ask themselves, “why do we have to put up with this?”
Jesus’s reputation became one of a philanthropist overnight. He never sold anything. He gave and gave. He healed and healed. Like an activist, he spoke with boldness against the injustice of the religious leaders of His people. People saw an opportunity for change, and they thought of making him King so that they would declare war against the Roman empire for the injustices of the Romans. And here’s how it unfolded:
‘When the people saw the sign that Jesus had performed, they began to say, “Truly this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Then Jesus, realizing that they were about to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.” (John 6:14-15)
Fanatics can go and commit crimes to the credit of those they’re following. A story goes that a man once approached a seated President and begged him to simply say “yes” and that he would proudly go and take out the opposing party leader with his bare hands.
When you do deeds that you believe to be good, there’s a plethora of reactions or responses that can come forth. You can be prosecuted for it. You can lose your job for it. You can lose your marriage for it. You can lose your relationship with your kids for it. You can lose yourself for it. All to the intent of
gaining praises and attention from others.
When it comes to doing good deeds, Jesus said,
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them…So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others…But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” (Matthew 6:1-4)
Do the good and hide yourself. Why? Because the good with time may be understood as evil. What is important is not that you get the credit for it but that the recipient benefits something good however of temporal value such deed may be.
Hide yourself with the love and joy and peace that Christ is in your heart. Hide yourself by crediting grace as the inspiring force for the deed, the grace of Christ Jesus.
As Paul once said,
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
But what has grace done that is so inspiring?
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14)
The only good deed worth remembering by anyone at anytime in any circumstance is the deed of God in Christ toward sins to the benefit of the whole world.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
The only good deed worth remembering at any moment is the love of God manifested in Christ to the benefit of our salvation.
The only good deed worthy of praise at any moment is the love of God bringing Jesus to suffer death for us.
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Do the good deed and forget about it. When you remember the good you’ve done to others and that now they’re returning evil to you, it hurts. Seeing how ungrateful people can be will make you understand why it’s best to good and walk away. If they do not mistakenly worship you for the good, they will sacrifice you later on with their ungratefulness. Pray that your good be a reminder to them of the greatest good God has ever done toward mankind. The one good that God boasts so much about after he had said to “forget the former things”, after the had said to “not dwell on the past”:
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.” (Isaiah 43:18-21)
Jesus, the new thing.
““Here I am, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been sanctified through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:9-10)
Jesus, the new thing.
You wanna perform the works of God? Before you go on killing others, sacrificing yourself and your family to your own praise and reputation, here’s what Jesus suggested:
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
God sent Jesus. He sent Him with one simple agenda: to save the world.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
And there’s only one way to welcome that saving, it is by believing in Jesus.
If you believe in Jesus, you will have done the work of God by grace.
Believing in Jesus is the good deed. Even a cripple in bed can do it. Even a criminal behind bars can do it. Even someone on death row can do it.
And after you have believed, you can say, “By your grace, Jesus, I’ve been led to believe in you.”