The power of a good deed


By Dr. Hal Brady

Sometimes in a world of vastness we forget the power of a good deed or a loving act. It is still true that the healing of the wounds of a man on the Jericho Road has an influence far beyond Jericho or Jerusalem. To be sure, God often takes a single good deed and multiplies its significance. Through the magic of God’s grace that goodness shines and shines and shines.

What is so powerful about a good deed, anyway? First, a good deed is powerful because it brings out our best! For many years, Dr. Halford Luccock was the professor of preaching in the Divinity School of Yale University. One of the guiding principles he constantly taught his students was simply to be themselves. Then he would share an illustration of what God could do with one person.

We are never more our true selves, as God intended us to be, than when we are performing a good deed. The writer of 3 John says, “Whoever does good is from God” (3:11b). Doing good, then, is a proactive way of living, a way of loving God. At this point, our focus is off ourselves and on the welfare of others, thus, bringing out our best.

In The United Methodist Church, we have something we call our General Rules. These three rules are modeled after the life of Christ, and they are listed in our Book of Discipline. They are the following: Do no harm, Do good, Stay in love with God. For our purposes today, underline that second General Rule: “Do good.”

Second, a good deed is powerful because it makes a difference in the lives of others! Let me share with you what one young lawyer acquaintance did several years back, when he became personally concerned about the terrible suffering of little children in Biafra. Single-handedly he started a help crusade. He basically used the telephone and personal contacts as his methods.

This young lawyer raised more than $750 and more than 2.5 tons of food and medical supplies. He persuaded a major airline to fly the supplies to New York, and convinced the Catholic World Service to take them the rest of the way. A suffering people in a remote part of the world were assisted because of the deep concern of one person and his incredible good deed.

Years ago, when I was a better golfer than I am now, I had the privilege of playing in a Pro-Am event. The golf pro on our team was Billy Andrae. I was touched when a small boy walked up to Billy during the round. Billy stopped, shook the little boy’s hand, talked with him, and gave him a golf ball. I'm sure that little boy will never forget Billy Andrae. And by that good deed, Billy Andrae made a witness to something far greater than golf.

Third, a good deed is powerful because it softens the world! John Maxwell told of visiting the home of Mahatma Gandhi when he was on a trip to India. The house had been turned into a museum and it contained some of his personal possessions as well as artifacts from his time of leadership. It also teaches much of his philosophy. One of Gandhi's statements stood out for John Maxwell and for me: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

If we want to see a softening of the harsh realities of this world then we can become more aware and involved in bringing about more good deeds. 

What sort of good deeds, you ask?

  1. Let a person pass you on the freeway without feeling challenged to an all-out race.
  2. Make an effort to get along with people you don’t like.
  3. Call several people every day and let them know you care.
  4. Donate some time and financial support to a needed ministry or charity.
  5. Over tip an employee.
  6. Be a team player.
  7. Make a conscientious effort to improve racial or societal differences.
  8. Write notes of thanksgiving or praise to others.
  9. Share a smile.
  10. Live graciously
Hear me now! It is my deep conviction that it is with these and other good deeds that God proposes to bring in His Rule.

Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries.