Last year, Reader’s Digest created a list of the best places to live in America. Can you believe one of the sites found on the list is located in the Bronx? Harding Park is a blue-collar neighborhood on the East River in New York City’s Bronx borough. The neighbors are friendly and “crimes of compassion” occur regularly. After snowstorms, folks anonymously shovel the sidewalks of their neighbors. On garbage collection days, one neighbor will carry another neighbors trash cans back up the driveway to the backdoor. Gardeners share their produce with their neighbors, many times without taking credit for the vegetables they leave on the doorstep. It’s like crime in reverse. Everyone tries to outdo the good deeds their neighbors do for them.
My daily Bible reading has me in the Gospel of Matthew right now. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, ESV). The “Golden Rule” can be found in one form or another in a myriad of religions. Most of these religions state the rule in the negative: “Do not do to others what you don’t like them doing to you.” Jesus expresses it in the positive. Those who follow Jesus should eagerly do good to others. The good that the followers of Christ do is not dependent on other people returning the favor. Instead, we should look to serve others when we are not noticed—even doing good to our enemies: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:35, ESV) and “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:15, ESV).
The Christian life is not easy, is it? Why should we actively pursue doing good for others? Because that is how God treats us. In the passage before the “Golden Rule” text, Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7–11, ESV). Can it be that we have the privilege as children of God to imitate our Heavenly Father? Let’s not miss that critical fact, sons and daughters of God look like their Father. We live differently from the “norm” because God is transforming us through the Holy Spirit into something better.
So, let us do what the Apostle Paul encourages: “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:18–19, ESV).
Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 172.
Lydia Clark-Sumpter, “The Nicest Place in New York: Harding Park in the Bronx.” Reader's Digest, (Trusted Media Brands, Inc., 2019), www.rd.com/nicestplaces/the-nicest-place-in-new-york-harding-park-in-the-bronx/.
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Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Eric grew up in the little town of Gibraltar, PA with his grandparents. He met his wife Cheryl while working at Good’s Greenhouse in Bowmansville, PA. He has three adult children and values watching them grow into the people God wants them to be.