How good I am! What fine things I have done!
(J. R. Miller, "The Beauty of Quietness" 1903)
"They will be like dew sent by the Lord." Micah 5:7
The lives of godly people are sometimes compared to the dew. One point of likeness, is the quiet way in which the dew performs its ministry. It falls silently and imperceptibly. It makes no noise. No one hears it dropping. It chooses its time in the night when men are sleeping, when none can see its beautiful work. It covers the leaves with clusters of pearls. It steals into the bosoms of the flowers, and leaves new cupfuls of sweetness there. It pours itself down among the roots of the grasses and tender herbs and plants. It loses itself altogether, and yet it is not lost. For in the morning there is fresh life everywhere, and new beauty. The fields are greener, the gardens are more fragrant, and all nature is clothed in fresh luxuriance!
Is there not in this simile, a suggestion as to the way we should seek to do good in this world? Should we not wish to have our influence felt—while no one thinks of us; rather than that we should be seen and heard and praised? Should we not be willing to lose ourselves in the service of self-forgetful love, as the dew loses itself in the bosom of the rose—caring only that other lives shall be sweeter, happier, and holier—and not that honor shall come to us? We are too anxious, some of us, that our names shall be written in large letters on the things we do, even on what we do for our Master; and are not willing to sink ourselves out of sight—and let Him alone have the praise.
Our Lord's teaching on the subject is very plain. He says: "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." That is, they have that which they seek—the applause of men.
"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." The meaning would seem to be, that we are not to wish people to know of our good deeds, our charities, our self-denials; that we should not seek publicity, when we give money or do good works; indeed, that we are not even to tell ourselves what we have done; that we are not to think about our own good deeds so as to become conscious of them; not to put them down in our diaries and go about complimenting ourselves, throwing bouquets at ourselves, and whispering: "How good I am! What fine things I have done!"
This is an insightful test of our lives. Are we willing to be as the dew—to steal abroad in the darkness, carrying blessings to men's doors, blessings that shall enrich the lives of others and do them good—and then steal away again before those we have helped or blessed awaken, to know what hand it was that brought the gift? Are we willing to work for others . . .
without human praise,
Are we content to have our lives poured out like the dew—to bless the world and make it more fruitful—and yet remain hidden away ourselves? Is it enough for us to see the fruits of our toil and sacrifice—in others' spiritual growth, and deeper happiness; yet never hear our names spoken in praise or honor—perhaps even hearing others praised for things we have done?
If you go about doing good in simple ways, in gentle kindnesses, not thinking of reward, not dreaming of praise, not hoping for any return—you are enshrining your name where it will have immortal honor! Our lesson teaches us that this is the way we are to live—if we are followers of Christ!