Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.
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Do you feel the freedom in the words, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can…”? I love the way John Wesley’s quote encourages individuals to give their utmost, yet takes into consideration human limitations, weaknesses and circumstances.
God has equipped each and every person with the means, talent and time needed in order to fulfill his or her earthly purpose. We need not feel overwhelmed with the burden of performing unceasing good deeds, with everything we have, everywhere we go, every second of the day, to every single person we encounter. No, that’s a recipe for anxiety, depletion and exhaustion–an invitation for a hospital stay. We should simply be doing good within the realm of our capability; to be doing the best good we possibly can. And the fantastic part is, God loves to meet us where we fall short.
I’m light years away from being a Bible scholar, but I am a well practiced Sunday school teacher, so a basic children’s lesson comes to mind when thinking about what good I have to offer those around me.
The story is found in Matthew 14 (NIV), and finds Jesus in a crowd of about 5000 people. Jesus had spent the day speaking to the crowd and healing their sick, and it was growing late. The disciples began to ask Jesus to send the people away so that they could find food in the nearby villages.
Jesus told the disciples that he wasn’t going to send the people away, and he instead gave the disciples the responsibility to feed the crowd.
The disciples (like we do) looked at what they had and believed it wasn’t enough. Who wouldn’t, right?
Jesus asked the disciples to bring what they had and give it to him. It was merely five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus directed the people to sit down, and then taking his disciple’s humble offering, he looked up to heaven, gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave the food to the disciples, and the disciples gave the food to the people.
They all ate and were satisfied, and there was even food left over.
My favorite thing about this story is the fact that even though Jesus could have easily fed the entire crowd out of HIS own power, he still requested the disciples give him what they had (even though it wasn’t a lot), and THEN Jesus took over and performed a miracle. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to give “good” in order to receive “good“. Want love? Give love. Want help? Help someone else. Give Jesus your “fish and loaves” and watch him take over.
I’m well aware that many times it feels as though there’s not much good we can give, or much good we can do in the season of life we’re in.
I remember years ago I was feeling overwhelmed by all of the accomplishments of the “Proverbs 31 Princess”, and was sharing my heart with my mentor, Rachel. She listened to my frustrations with my inadequacies, and so lovingly reminded me that the famous chapter in the Old Testament detailed the entire life of one woman, not just one isolated season. Her reassurance gave me great relief in my early season of motherhood.
I bet if you and I took note of every detail of our lives and recorded the highlights in chapter form, I would dare say we might surprise ourselves with how many seemingly small things add up to a big heap of success over the span of a lifetime.
Jane Goodall said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” I’ve already decided that my main priority in life is making a difference in my children’s lives. So, currently, most of “my good” is directed toward serving my little people to the best of my ability. Though a percentage of the world may label me as “just” a stay-at-home mom, I happen to believe I’m playing my part in changing the world.
Recently, I read a book by Laurie Beth Jones entitled, “The Path“, and in it, she made a statement that practically leaped off the page at me. It said, “Every word we speak, every action we take, has an effect on the totality of humanity. No one can escape that privilege-or that responsibility.”
What good are you speaking? What good are you doing? It matters.
I love the simplicity of the story of Ruth (NIV). Her story is not sparkly or shiny. She didn’t do anything magnificent. She simply offered her “good” to one person at a desperate time in her life when she had nothing to give except her love and her presence. God took what she had to offer and blessed it tremendously.
Ruth demonstrates to each of us the value of being present wherever life finds you, and the worth God places on commitment and loyalty.
If ever you feel like what you’re doing is stupid, small, or insignificant, remember the simple words of Aesop: “No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.”
Case in point: “The Starfish Story”.
The tale tells of an old man approaching a small boy on the beach as he was throwing starfish back into the ocean, one after the other. The beach was littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
As the boy came closer, the old man called out to him, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves. When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley
Though one could argue that the little boy’s actions were insignificant, I would counter that he was the epitome of John Wesley’s motivational quote; he did the good he could, with the means he had, in the way he could, in the place he could, at the time he could. His desire to do good, though not world-changing, was very important, and very inspiring.
What “good” do you feel led to do today? How will you do it? Where? When? Who will you target? Ask God to meet you where you fall short. I bet he’ll be excited for the invitation.
I made this sign specifically for this post, with the hope that one of my readers would want to hang it in their home as an encouragement.
In order to be entered in the giveaway, simply comment in the box below (on THIS blog post, NOT on Facebook, because I can’t see all of the comments on Facebook) this post with the words, “I’ll do the good I can.” Anyone can comment, and if you don’t necessarily want the sign for yourself, try to think of someone that might be blessed by these words, and give it to them. A winner will be chosen within the week.
And of course, if you want to comment “for real”, and not be entered into the contest, I love reading all of those words too!
Thanks so much for reading.
******Update*****Darlene won the painting*****
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