We’ve heard people refer to “do-gooders” in a pejorative sense: “That Jane Doe is nothing but a do-gooder all over town.” Meaning by that, Ms. Doe is so dumb that she thinks she’s accomplishing something of value in the community when in actuality she is not.
Exactly what is a do-gooder?
One dictionary defines “do-gooder” like this: “A naïve idealist who supports philanthropic or humanitarian causes or
reforms.” Naïve being the key word.
Another dictionary: “An earnest often naïve humanitarian.” Again, naïve.
Another like this: “An earnest but often naïve person (typically educated and white) who wants reform through philanthropic or egalitarian means. e.g. wealth redistribution, social justice, welfare, third world immigration, adoption of ‘disadvantaged’ children (usually non-white and from abroad), affirmative action and spending other peoples’ money for good causes.” A provocative definition, for sure, but I don’t think it would have passed muster with my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Lockwood, who taught us how to write a correct definition.
Another definition of “do-gooder” I found: “Person who has a large object permanently inserted inside the ends of their world. Due to such object, they become blurred to the realities of life, and therefore, feel the need to push their own agenda regardless of whether that agenda appears to be relevant, important and true to the rest of the sane world.”
Ouch. I’m sorry I asked.
But the Bible weighs in on this too, and just in time.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Proverbs 3:27 grabs our attention with gusto: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” That’s not much like a suggestion, but it’s more like a strong admonition. It’s a tall order. It ain’t no fooling around. (Sorry, Mrs. Lockwood, in case you’re reading from heaven.)
And how about Acts 10:38? Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, “went about doing good …” Hmmm. I would think that a Christ-follower ought to do the same.
John Wesley said it like this:
“Do all the good 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.”
Can our good deeds save us? Not a chance. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). But there is that next verse! “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (2:10). Our good works can’t save us – thankfully, Christ’s good work on the cross did that. But our good works do shine the spotlight on our Savior, and give stirring testimony to the fact that He has graciously passed our way.
O.K., so I won’t ask you to be a do-gooder, unless you can interpret that term in the most positive light.
But please do good. (That’s not bad grammar, Mrs. Lockwood. I meant to word it like that. And thanks for being a phenomenal teacher.)
I’m not sure we’re called to do well, but I do think we’re called to do good.