During my high school days I would often get a ride home from a good friend of mine. We made it a policy to perform “good deeds” as often as possible on our way home. Usually these deeds consisted of running an errand for a friend or helping some old lady get her car started on the side of the road. If pressed, I’d say we managed at least one random act of kindness each week for the majority of my junior year.
After we graduated, I noticed a significant drop-off in my good deed ratio. It’s not that there has been a shortage of people stuck on the side of the road, or that I’ve decided that good is dumb (thank you, Mel Brooks). So what exactly has prevented me from helping these people? Is it the fact that I don’t know squat about cars? Is it that I’m so important and ever-busy that I can’t spare a few minutes to stop and assist some poor motorist? Is it the fact that I fear the wrath of purse-wielding elderly women when I don’t have 6-foot-5-inch Dave with me? Surely none of those could be it.
I may not know much about cars, but I do have a cell phone. If nothing else, that is always useful in finding someone else who can be of real help. I’m a decent-sized guy, so fear is not a valid excuse. Anyone I stopped to help would probably be more intimidated by me than I would be of them. And seriously, I’m a college student. Am I ever really in that big of a hurry that I can’t stop to help someone with a flat tire or a dead battery? More importantly, as a Christian, is there ever anything that should demand my attention more than a person in need? I mean, it’s not like anyone’s asking me to end world hunger or bring peace to a war-torn nation (those will be in another article). It’s just a few minutes to jump someone’s car or call a tow truck. So what, then, is my reason for turning my head and driving past these poor people who will now be late to work or miss their child’s school play?
Clearly I am the center of the known world. I thought everyone knew that by now. There is no way that I should be bothered to spend my valuable time on the side of a highway staring at the internal organs of someone’s Chevette and pretending to know what they are or what they do. I cannot be inconvenienced.
As self-indulgent as that sounds, it carries a degree of truth. I am selfish. It is inexcusable. But do you know what’s really sad?
I’m not the only one.
We are given daily opportunities to shine God’s light into other people’s lives. Some of us take advantage of these chances to show love to the world, and some of us do not. I, for one, am tired of being a “do not.” It is unacceptable behavior on my part, and it needs to end. I’m not saying that we have to fix every flat tire or donate to every cause or give money to every person asking for a handout. But I am saying that it is our duty as believers to spread the wealth. There are huge problems facing the world today. Hunger. Violence. Injustice. Maybe we can’t fix all of these (or maybe we can), but it is our responsibility to try. It is my responsibility to try. It’s OK to start small. Imagine the joy of that old woman on the side of the road if a kindhearted young man were to stop and fix her flat tire for her. It’s the little changes that lead to the big ones. I’m not asking for every person to become a social activist. Just become active. Besides, the next person you see stranded on the side of the road just might be me.