Over the weekend we talked with someone (A) who told us about a friend of hers (B), someone she has known for many years. It seems that this friend (B) offended someone else (C) eight or nine years ago. The precise details don’t matter, except that what was done was petty and meanspirited. Now the course of life has changed and the person offended (C) has come to a happy moment, the beginning of a new chapter of life. And so this friend (B) wishes to do something nice to the person (C) she once treated shabbily. She came to the person we were talking to (A) and said, “I’d like to do something nice for her.” That person (A) looked at us, made a face, batted her eyes, and said, “If you want to do something nice for a person, just do it. Don’t announce it to the world.”
She is exactly right. Something is mightily wrong when you have to pre-announce your piety to the world. It makes you seem like the Pharisees who loved to make a big deal about their good deeds.
If you want to help someone, help them.
If you want to give money, write a check.
If your neighbor needs food, take them a ham.
If your co-worker needs encouragement, take them out for lunch.
If your cousin is sick, write her a note or call her or go see her.
If your friend comes to you a midnight asking for bread, give him some bread.
I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrased the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:1-4.
"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out."
Jesus literally said, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Why is that? Because the left hand doesn’t need to know what the right hand is doing. If you keep your hands busy doing good for others, you won’t have time to talk about what either hand is doing.
The world is full of needy people, broken hearts, hurting parents, suffering children, and you have more lonely friends in your life than you know. We ought to do as much good as we can while we can because everyone is having a hard time. Some just show it more than others.
You don’t need a reason to good and you don’t have to announce it to the world.
If you want to do something nice for a person, just do it.