“Do all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as often as ever you can, as long as you can” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon).
IT IS AN AGE-OLD QUESTION, AS IMPORTANT AS IT IS SIMPLE: WHAT IS GOOD? None of us has a perfect understanding of goodness, and we should admit our fallibility here. Rousseau was right: “We always love what is good or what we think is good; it is in our judgment of what is good that we can make mistakes.” Nevertheless, most of us know a good deal more about goodness than we are practicing, and so let’s make that our focus. How can we better give to others the gift of whatever goodness we know right now?
Perhaps one of the greatest suggestions that can be made is to focus more on the small things and the daily things. As Samuel Johnson observed, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything.” So let’s not wait for the spotlight to be turned on and a newsworthy opportunity to present itself. True goodness is content to do simple deeds and do them well.
Similarly, true goodness is not flamboyant. As David Grayson put it, “Goodness is uneventful. It does not flash, it glows.” And that may be why the most impactful people in the world are not the celebrities, the leaders, or the conspicuously talented individuals. It is usually the simple, ordinary folks who, without getting any credit for it, just go quietly about the business of showing love and kindness.
In this world, you are not going to understand or implement perfect goodness, and neither am I. But, as with all the other qualities we have discussed in this book, we can at least make progress. We can learn to be better people. The question is not so much where we stand as it is which direction we are moving. And I must be candid with you here: I believe we must be moving toward the perfect standard of God’s goodness. As Daniel Webster said, “Real goodness does not attach itself merely to this life — it points to another world.”
Finally, I want you to understand that it’s a joyful privilege to engage in goodness. We don’t adopt good character or good conduct primarily for the way those things make us feel, but they are, in fact, joyous things. I invite you to take goodness for a test drive.
“Learn the luxury of doing good” (Oliver Goldsmith).