"Why would you do good for merely the sake of doing good?"
This was a question I was asked before I was baptized at a youth Bible study I attended where the subject of kindness and doing good came up. It was baffling that a non-Christian wanted to do good with the only reason being that it was the good and right thing to do. I wasn’t going to get to heaven. I wasn’t gaining anything in return by doing it. So why? As a creature of the world, would I ever consider doing something so strange by its standards? At the time, my answer was that I should be generous because it was the right thing. And in doing so, no greater joy could be felt in this world than when seeing someone smile after being shown kindness.
Now, as a Christian, there are important things I’ve come to realize that we can all gain from reflecting on such a question. We can make sure that when we do kindness it is not solely to check a box on a list or to gain something in return. Elisha’s servant named Gehazi learned this lesson the hard way when in 2 Kings 5 he took it upon himself to get a reward in response to the good works Elisha provided for Naaman. When Elisha reminded Gehazi that it was not the time to seek reward for it was a good work, Gehazi’s skin became as leprous as Naaman’s had been. To do good should never be done with the expectation of gain from God or the world. It needs to be done with heart.
One amazing aspect of being a saved man is that God can be an amazing driving force in our heart to do good! When we do good with a humble and zealous heart, it can spread to others like wildfire because the love and hope God gives is strong and fruitful (Psalm 1:1-3)! Which is why there is a difference between a good man and a saved man. Jesus died for us so that we can not only be good, but we can be saved with a promise of everlasting peace (Romans 5:6-8). If a good person had the zeal for God behind them, imagine the quality and even quantity of the good works they could do with the gifts and circumstances given to them by God.
My best friend and someone wise helped me realize that what sets a person apart is how a person treats and responds to others in the face of adversity--not the adversity itself or how they overcome it for themselves. God is someone who can help us all do this! (See the book of Ruth.)