Little Anonymous Blessings

4 Dec

My wife called me at work to inform me that an anonymous, kind-hearted individual paid for her lunch today. This got me thinking that there are many times when people do kind things for us and we do not know who performed the good deed, yet we reap the benefits. The great thing about these random acts of anonymous kindness is that you get to enjoy them and you never feel like you “owe somebody one.” This is really good for me, because I feel in a constant state of debt to all those around me that help me with anything, from the exceedingly menial to the profound.

So as I am in admiration of these noble people who do wonderful things and ask for no credit in return, I am forced to ask myself do I ever do things like that. While I am sure that it has happened a time or two, I am faced with the realization that I am not one to be kind to people just so they are benefited. I think I am one of those people who are up-front and when I do things, I want the credit. I sometimes think that is bad, and I begin to do some deep thinking on the subject. So, before I send out the question, I guess I will share with you my thoughts.

Is it bad to want credit for doing a nice act for someone else? I guess that boils down to a couple of things. First, for what purpose do you actually want the credit? Second, from whom do you want the credit? Maybe I should answer these in reverse. Because if you do something good for someone and then that good thing you did turns out to be a secret motive to have that person like you or think good of you, it really isn’t that good of a deed, now is it? It seems to me like it is more of a down payment on a hoped-for and anticipated friendship. Now becoming friends with someone can indeed be noble, but I’m not sure the good deed done to begin it can be seen as entirely noble. On the other hand, if you want a third party to like the good deed you did as a byproduct of your kindness to another, it might just be that you need to seek professional help. Please contact a good counselor. And I guess all this would lead me to a discussion of, “Is there a Selfless good deed?

But to answer the first question, is to give someone a reason for altruistic purposes. I know I criticized anyone seeking the glory of someone by doing a good deed, but when we consider the intent of wanting that glory, I concede that you could possibly be trying to let your light so shine so that when others see you they would glorify God. Wanting credit to point to Someone or some cause that is great can be a legitimate motive. Of course, then the question is does that pointing to God cause you to get puffed up in your own conceit?

As you can tell, I am having some cognitive dissonance with this whole thing. But then, I ask myself does that mean I should avoid doing good altogether. And, of course, the answer to that is a resounding no. While, I am certainly not perfect in my response to glory given for doing good, and I also have a tendency to tout my greatness to those who may have missed me do that “good” thing, I think it is clear that we should do good. The problem is that we need to reform our response to it. Question 62 in the Larger Heidelberg Catechism has always convicted me in this way.

So, my prayer is that before someone gives me a really simple answer to this longtime conundrum of mine (please do, by the way), that you pray for me. Pray that I will do good. That I will do it not for the glory it may bring. That I will do it not for the glory I may get, but that I would do it to reflect God. Then after my reflection that I would continue to pass all praise to Him. That I would cease to be a “glory hog” of things for which man find me meritorious. My good friend, Josh Austin, is always good at keeping me on my toes and allowing me to see that those for whom I have affection in this world are merely those in whom God’s abundant grace shines through more profoundly. May I be one who can answer to that description!

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2 Responses to “Little Anonymous Blessings”

  1. Jenni February 24, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    I think the people that I come the closest to doing truly good deeds for are those I love the most purely… like my kids. I want good, good things for them, whether people notice me or not. For me, my motives are skewed in direct proportion to the lack of purity in my love for the people for whom I am doing good deeds.

  2. AskThePhatMan February 24, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    Wow! It took me 788 words to say what you succinctly put together in three sentences. Maybe you should start a blog. Oh yeah, this might work!

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