Doing Good for Others

Those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. -John 5:29 

Dear members and friends,

Jesus emphasizes “doing good” as the central principle for being a good person whom God would accept into heaven. According to Jesus, a good example of “doing good” can be found in the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10. At that time, Jews hated Samaritans even to the degree that they did not talk to them or sit down at the same place to eat. However, when a traveling Jew was attacked by robbers and left on the road naked, both a Jewish priest and a Jewish Levite simply passed by him. But a traveling Samaritan bandaged him and fed him with his own food, and then took him to an inn and paid for his care, even promising to return to pay for any extra cost. What Jesus is teaching in this story is clear and simple: when we see someone in need and we know that we can help, we should offer the help regardless of who that someone is. Jesus teaches us this universal principle as a broad fellowship for the whole of humanity because we are all on the road journeying in certain directions, and thus we could be hurt or lost at times. At the same time, Jesus points out the potential danger of human shortcomings exemplified by narrowly-applied dogmatics of a certain religion or simply by selfishness. In the parable, Jesus highlights that a priest and a Levite (who might have been a family of a priest) simply passed by the injured man, who was one of their own. This is a warning from Jesus to all of us that we all have a tendency to become the dogmatic whose religiosity dwells only within the wall of theological knowledge and understanding, and never become practically real in the world. 

Confucius taught that when there is an opportunity to do good, do not yield it to anyone, not even to your master. The Chinese character for good is composed of three other Chinese characters: sheep, to uphold, and mouth. The interpretation varies from one person to another for what these three characters together mean. One possible meaning is that good means to offer a sheep to other people’s mouths, meaning you feed others with your food. If you were to acknowledge the scarcity of food in ancient times (around 500 B.C.), you would understand the practicality of the Chinese word “good:” feeding others, when you can, is the foundation of building a good human relationship. This is not far from Jesus’ teaching that “doing good” means helping others when we can. However, both require our willingness to offer something that is ours to others in a real situation. 

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment to reflect upon this teaching of Jesus and Confucius regarding what it means to do good, and choose at least one good action to prepare for the coming of the Advent!  

 Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee