In the world today, doing the right thing can be hard. Granted, the line between what is right and wrong is quickly graying in the minds of society on a daily basis. Yet, I still believe at our core we know what is truly right and truly wrong even if we lie to ourselves from time to time for our own selfish gain.
The reason I can say that’s true is because of what I see around Christmas. Without fail, every year people become more generous, more kind, and more selfless. People will give to charities, donate toys for underprivileged kids, volunteer at homeless shelters, and even set aside grudges to hang out with family they dislike.
What baffles me though is the goodwill we show in December doesn’t have to stop when the New Year’s ball drops. In fact, those organizations we all serve and support don’t freeze in time until next year when they unthaw to let us back into their worlds again. They keep going and could still use our help. This is true with our fellow man as well. Those around us still need our help and support even after the candy canes are off the light poles downtown.
Yet it always happens that when the credit card bills come rolling in or the stress of our job hits a fever pitch we curl back into a selfish fetal position and worry only about our needs. The human condition is innately focused on protecting the self. It makes sense to be that way if you are in the middle of an alley surrounded by ninjas with throwing stars, but not so much when you’re simple lying about being sick so you don’t have to help a friend change their tire when it’s snowing outside.
Occasionally, I hear of stories where this selfish shell is bucked off and the true human spirit peaks through. This is one of those stories: a group of 5th grade boys did the right thing for their 6-year old friend Danny.
Jesus helps us to realize that when we are doing the right thing, helping one another, looking out for the good of not just ourselves we are actually interacting with God himself. Jesus says these words in Matthew which contrast what happens or doesn’t happen when we are confronted with doing the right thing.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ -Matthew 25:40 (emphasis mine)
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ - Matthew 25:45 (emphasis mine)
Our responsibility as Christians is to be men and women of faith that look beyond our self to the needs of others. We are to see our lives not as joy rides focused on emptying our bucket list of fun things, but as ambassadors for the least of these by how we love them. Of course God wants us to live our life to the full and enjoy the families, resources, and experiences he brings across our paths, but he doesn’t want us to do those things in spite of loving our neighbor.
Don’t make it harder than it has to be!
- Buy a single mom a meal at the restaurant
- Shovel the driveway of your neighbors
- Put some cash in an envelope for a friend that needs it
- Sit by the tough coworker at lunch
- Be honest about your expense report
- Go back in the grocery store when you forget to pay for something
- Apologize to your kids when you are wrong
- Or any other number of no brainer “right” things to do.
Finding “the least of these” or the “right thing to do” is not difficult if we open our eyes. Heck, sometimes it’s as easy as putting on a tie and standing in the gap for friend.
So don’t wait for next year’s Christmas to do what God wants you to do today. Just do it!