– Surround Yourself with Good –
This past Sunday I listened to two sermons on the internet. In the first, the pastor preached about John Wesley’s three simple rules – do not harm, do good, and love God. Her sermon focused on the “do good” rule and she gave several examples of simple things we can all do to do good.
In the second, the sermon was about giving up sin. During the sermon, the pastor made a quick comment about how his cable TV service was shut down and he couldn’t watch any news. Although initially frustrated with his lack of TV service, he later realized that throughout the rest of the day he felt quite good because he hadn’t watched any news that is usually filled with politics and unrest happening in the country. The absence of seeing the news let him focus more on the good things around him.
There’s a lot of Troubling News
I didn’t connect the dots on these two sermons until later in the day. As I was sitting on my porch, I thought about the absence of good things in many people’s lives. We now have to fear COVID-19 every time we venture out of our homes. Many have loneliness because of the stay at home guidance. Most of what we see in the news recently has been about protests for better justice and equality, some people behaving badly, job losses from businesses shutting down, the increasing death toll from COVID-19, and political leaders critiquing each other.
It’s easy to get caught up on all this, especially if we spend a lot of time with TV or online content. I have sympathy for those impacted by events and pray for those suffering from Covid-19 and the conflicts. But, it’s also frustrating because most of us can’t directly change what we see happening.
Choose to do Good
But, we have some choices. The conflicts and troubling news will always be there. It’s good to be aware of what’s happening, but we can choose not to dwell on it. We can decide to turn it off. We can pray for God’s help and guidance. We can decide not to judge and take sides. We can decide to not listen to or read comments from people driven by hate.
And in place of those things we can decide to do good with our actions and our speech. Doing good doesn’t require money or much effort. For example, here are some easy things that I try to do every day;
- Say thank you for everything (I thank my wife any time she cooks, does the dishes or does my laundry),
- Hold the door open for someone,
- Wave at oncoming drivers or walkers even if you don’t know them (this is quite common in small midwestern towns),
- Let someone go before you through an intersection,
- Give a good tip for a takeout sandwich or meal when you get the chance (I started telling any cashier to keep the change when I’m due any coins as change),
- Look someone in the eye, smile and say Hi or Thank-you using their name,
- Call, write, txt, or email a friend just to check in and say Hi.
- Buy some extra canned goods or canned soup when you shop and drop it off at a food pantry, and
- Offer to help someone in the grocery store (e,g, can I reach that for you, would you like to go ahead of me, I’ll return that carriage for you).
These are all small things but they matter. Especially to the people receiving your good actions.
Surround Yourself with Good
In addition to my individual actions, I find it helpful to try and interact (and surround myself) with positive people. Being part of a couple of church communities helps me with this. I attend church regularly and also attend bible studies. I had to reach out and engage to become part of these communities but I am glad I took the initiative because it has been very rewarding. It helps to reinforce and encourage me to do the good things Jesus taught us to do.
There’s a saying that I hear at the end my yoga class – “May the light in me honor the light that shines in you”. The goodness we see in others reflects into us and likewise, our goodness reflects into others.
As Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven”.