Doing Good (Sermon)
Updated: Apr 15
Nancy probably pursued her career to make a difference. Perhaps to do a little good and maybe even to help some people. One February she encountered a guy who was a mess. He was in trouble. Nancy wasn’t sure she could help him, but was determined to give it a try. After a few minutes it wasn’t getting better. In fact, it was getting worse. The guy was getting nauseous. She grabbed a bucket and a cold, wet cloth. Not exactly what she signed up for when she was preparing to be a neuro-optometrist to be sure.
Doing good is always right, but not always easy. Sometimes, doing good is not convenient, pain-free, or fun. It is not always convenient because it takes time and can take money. Doing good may not be pain-free. There may blood, sweat, and tears. There will always be something better to do, that is more fun! For the last few weeks we have talked about mission—what we are supposed to be doing as a church…through the lens of how Jesus did mission. We have been asking how do we expose our community to Jesus; then, how do we help our community when they have been exposed before Jesus?
We have said good works or good deeds—“doing good,” creates good will, which opens the door for us to share the Good News… We have talked about opportunities with 1) Lincoln Heights Elementary School. 2) Stop Hunger Now. 3) The Christmas Parade and open house…why? And what are the costs and consequences for being “on mission?”
There will always be critics (1-2)
V1—Again he entered the synagogue—church. And a man was there with a withered hand—dried up, shriveled, deformed…may suggest a prolonged illness possibly from birth. The man was disabled and in need of love and compassion.
Are you sensitive to those who need compassion? Can you see needs? Are you available to engage those in need?
V2—And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him—Who was the “they” that watched? —Religious leaders. The Pharisees. Not an issue of what, but when—The Sabbath—rabbis debated if it was ok to give medical attention on the Sabbath…allowed only if life was in danger. If life was not in danger, it was not ok to violate the Sabbath. A violation was punishable by death. Midwives could work on the Sabbath because birth could not be delayed. One rabbi opposed praying or visiting the sick on the Sabbath. They watched—continuing practice…watching carefully hoping he would mess up. Their goal—that they might accuse him—looking for a legal charge. A withered hand—obviously not life threatening…did not qualify as a Sabbath exception. *They were placing limits on doing good!? Are you?
Personal Conviction Required (3-5)
V3—And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.”—No way! In front of everybody?! Could you imagine? Situation that you are sensitive about…embarrassed about…called out in front of everybody… Jesus publicly and directly challenging the Pharisees… Tension— “showdown”
V4—And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?”—He asks the right question. Jesus is trying to clarify a situation that the Pharisees have complicated. Here are two radically different views of what it means to do good and keep the Sabbath. Sabbath means a deep rest, a deep peace. Sabbath is about restoring the diminished; replenishing the drained; repairing the broken…something that healing would do!
Micah 6:8—requires that He heal…
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
James 4:17— says to not to do good on the Sabbath would be sin…
James 4:17 (ESV) So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
But they were silent—reveals a flaw in their theology. Their silence condemns them…to silence an opponent is a way of shaming them and thus winning the debate.
V5—And he looked around at them with anger, grieved (deeply distressed) at their hardness of heart—stubbornness…can mean spiritual blindness (dullness) or active resistance to God’s purpose and will.
The greatest enemy of divine love and justice is not opposition or malice…but hardness of heart and indifference…and he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored—
Doing Good Can Bring Hostilities (6)
The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians (political party of aristocratic families who favored the rule of Herod the Great) against him, how to destroy him—These two are not typically on the same team, yet both view Jesus as a threat to their political and religious influence. Jesus did a good thing, but not the right way in the eyes of the Pharisees. Their response? Anger. Doing good is always right, but not always easy.
Jesus came offering help and hope.
John 10:10—Good News!
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Acts 10:38—Jesus went about doing good…
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
Tony Evans: “Love is passionately and righteously pursuing the well-being of another.”
Nancy didn’t give up. Buckets and wet cloths aside, she thought she could help, that she could make a difference. Week after week she tried stuff, attempting to move the needle, to see improvement in her struggling patient. She continued to research and learn and apply new findings. While doing good is always right, it is not always easy. I for one, am glad that Nancy, Dr. Mackowski didn’t give up, because if she did, I’d still be a mess.
You have no idea the impact of your persistent good deeds, even on one person. Don’t give up, don’t walk away. Do good not to get right, but because you have been made right. Your good deeds display Jesus Christ to a world that needs compassion. Do good!