“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14)
The power of a good deed is sometimes underestimated. We often think only the most heroic deeds and individuals are worthy of mention. While reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” I often thought of the indomitable stand Churchill took against the aggressive evil of Hitler. A person of great courage, wit and leadership, he stated “a man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.” As a leader, he took a stand against the greatest evil of his day and would not negotiate or back down. He did what he must.
But in the context of our daily lives, how often do people do what they must in spite of personal consequences, obstacles, dangers and pressures? The act of a person helping a man who had been robbed and injured may seem small, but Jesus considered it significant enough to use the parable of the good Samaritan as an example. In this biblical parable it was a member of the despised race of the day, a Samaritan, who helped a man who was left for dead by the roadside and not the two religious leaders who passed him by. The religious leaders probably talked about doing good deeds, but they were too busy or unaware to help someone in need. Or perhaps they thought they were above it. Our light shines against the dark backdrop of this world with all of its evil, problems and desperation through our ACTIONS, not just our words.
After relating the parable Jesus asked “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)
We can follow the example of the Good Samaritan, who did the following:
- He was aware of the person in need and was not too caught up in his own life to notice.
- He helped the person in need, going out of his way to do so.
- He took responsibility to follow through.
- He committed his time and resources to help.
A poor boy from a remote mountain village ran into his burning house to rescue his younger brother from the flames. He suffered severe burns, but his family had no money for shoes and basic needs, let alone medical treatment. Through providing treatment, comfort and care the door to reaching many in his and other mountain villages opened to my friend Nadia in Ukraine. As a missionary in Asia and Eastern Europe, I have experienced firsthand how important our actions are in reaching people. The supremacy of Christ and the centrality of the Gospel are not only compatible with social responsibility, they are inseparable. In the western world as well, economic instability is creating a culture in greater need of personal, compassionate touch.
Such acts of mercy or compassion can be carried out by anyone. Acts of compassion are powerful and can provide opportunities to build relational bridges in nations rife with poverty, racial tension and injustice. When played out against the backdrop of evil, these simple acts are truly great and can open the door for opportunities to communicate the truth of God because we have demonstrated the love of God. But acts of compassion can cost us greatly because we become involved in the lives of the desperate and needy of this world. In so doing we identify with Christ and are strengthened by His love and grace, receiving much in return.
Injustice screams in silence
Because we deafen our ears
We stare, incredulous
And walk by
Disbelief blinding us from
An evil we can’t reconcile
With our dream bubble
Yet we create
A tempest in a teapot
Over traffic, delays, offenses
Mere triflesInjustice, can you scream louder?
Because children are dying
I said, injustice can you scream louder?
Children are suffering,
Here in the devil’s playground