The other day I was walking to the supermarket with Little Welford. To get there we have to walk down a path with a builders yard on one side and one of those multipurpose sport cages on the other. As we approached the sports pitch the lads who were playing there accidentally kicked their ball out of the cage and into our path. Picking up the ball I thought I’d take advantage of this opportunity to look like an absolute pristine athlete in front of the boy. I proceeded to drop kick the ball with such slice that it not only cleared two of the fences of the sports cage, but then bounced on the path and over the fence of the builders yard. As time froze I felt not only the stares of the now ball less youths pierce me, but also the forlorn face of Little Welford that said ‘Dad, you are a tool.’
As we walked on to the shop he looked up at me and said ‘Daddy are we going to buy those boys another ball?’ ‘Yes son, I think we are.’ I replied, gutted and impressed that he had reached this conclusion first. We might as well, I thought, and if they aren’t there when we get back the boy can keep it. WIN WIN. When we returned to the sports cage the lads had climbed into the builders yard and retrieved their ball, but I still reached into my bag and threw over the new ball while mumbling an apology. Little Welford was positively ecstatic that his Dad had done the right thing. I was more of a hero in his eyes for righting a wrong than I ever could have been for punting a ball into the stratosphere. For such a young boy he has an incredible sense of justice.
Recent conversation on social media has caused me to mull over doing the right things. There is a clear mandate from Jesus to keep our good works hidden and often when he healed someone he would tell them to keep it on the down low, and yet at other times he told them to present themselves in the temple, he whipped up crowds and he told us to be a lamp on a hill.
All this came to a head recently in one of the responses to the horrendous drinking craze of neknominations. Someone came up with the idea of raknominations, or random act of kindness nominations. The idea being that you did a good deed and filmed yourself doing it before nominating some other people to do a good deed too, and so on. A kind of pay it forward if you will. This started with good acts towards those in need but soon became towards pretty much anyone.
I don’t really want to comment on whether the filming and promotion of such events was self righteousness or not. It’s an interesting question for sure, but to be honest compared to neknominations anything is an improvement. What does interest me is how we combine our righteousness with secrecy.
It seems to me that if we were more concerned with others than ourselves, then we may lead lives that were full of acts of kindness, deliberate not random, acts of kindness, if we can become the kind of people who’s very lives are defined more by kindness than anything else, then it will be very hard to keep quiet. We may not set out to be flashy, to self promote, or indeed show off, but in the course of defining our lives by love, let’s not pretend that we won’t get noticed. The difference may be who get’s the credit.
Matthew 22:37-40 ‘Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’