My Good Deed for the Day

While out walking, I came upon a little dog wandering the neighborhood. He was friendly, so I approached him to see if he had a collar with identifying information. With my cell phone I called the number and told the woman who answered that Tippy was out and about. She hollered to her husband who drove up a few minutes later and gratefully retrieved the dog. As I walked away I thought, now I’ve done my good deed for the day. I planned to donate blood platelets later on, so it occurred to me I would be doing two good deeds in one day.

Then I thought, how typical. My human nature pats itself on the back for doing something good and then smugly goes away thinking well done; I’ve done my good deed. Now I can please myself the rest of the day.

Most of us would agree this is a legalistic way of looking at doing good to others. Unfortunately it’s how most of us think. But just as we shouldn’t count how many times we forgive someone, we also shouldn’t count how many times we help or serve others. Jesus didn’t stop healing people after reaching a quota. He was generous with himself and his time. He often withdrew to spend time alone with his Father, because he was human after all. He needed physical rest and spiritual refreshment. But he didn’t limit himself to one or two good deeds a day.

Jesus not only brought grace by laying down his life for humanity, he also lived a life of grace toward others. He didn’t keep track of wrongs or rights. He was more concerned with hearts. We aren’t on the same level as Jesus, even though we are his representatives. Unlike Christ we may tend to limit our good deeds, perhaps by judging if people are qualified for our help. Our job is just to help – to offer the cup of cold water, the hot meal, the word of encouragement, the ride or the muscles to lend a hand. Grace frees us to offer ourselves and our time to others, with no thought of return or stopping when we feel we’ve done enough.

For most of us the problem isn’t stopping because we’re doing too much, it’s the opposite. We are by nature on the selfish side and think more of our own needs than those of others. Hence the thought I had the day I rescued the dog. Far from feeling good about how much I’ve done for others, how much more could I do if I were more aware and willing to lay down my life for not only my friends, but also for anyone who needs help.

Living under grace calls for letting go of legalistic, judgmental thoughts and living free of self- or other imposed restrictions. It means being thankful for the opportunity to do all the good we can to all the people we can. Grace frees us to live gracefully toward others and to share God’s blessings with everyone.

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