Actively Do Good
Look for something to appreciate today, will you? Be an encourager. If you see somebody that's working hard and doing a good job, say so.
Alright. Thank you very much. And hello again my dear radio friend. How in the world are you? That little greeting, of course, establishes the fact that this is your good friend Bob Cook, and we’re back together again. I’m so glad to get together with you by way of radio and share from God’s Word. The miles drop away, and we’re together in the presence of our blessed Lord. Hallelujah.
Look with me then at 1 Thessalonians verse 15 of chapter 5, “See to it,” he says, “that no one render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all.” Now the word see is Greek verb ‘horao’, which means look at it. Look to it. Look to it. We often have that same phrase in our current language “see about it”. A slight warning, by the way, that the practice of being vindictive could creep in without people being aware of it. It isn’t addressed to any one section of the church, not just to the minister or the deacons or the elders or the trustees or the cabinet or the Sunday school staff, but to all. Everybody. And that word render… Do like when I dig into words? I hope you do. I hope I don’t bore you. If I do, you better let me know. The word render means give back. Give back. See to it that nobody follows the practice of giving back evil for evil. That something, isn’t it? Do you see, the tendency is, you hit me, I’ll hit you.
I love the story that I heard when I was a child and they stuck in my mind. Little guy comes in crying, he says, “Billy hit me with a rock. He did. He did.” And they were comforting him, and then he said thoughtfully, “But I got back at him.” They said, “How did you do that?” He said, “I hit him with a rock yesterday.” [chuckle] Human nature, isn’t it? You push me, I push you. We often say “when push comes to shove” and that is a reflection of the human nature factor. Well, he said, “Look, see to this. Look out for it. See to it that nobody…,” that isn’t just anybody in the church, but nobody, “gives back,” that’s ‘apodidomi’ “gives back evil for evil.” You don’t have to answer a critical letter. Did you know that?
You don’t have to argue about some slight, real or fancied. Just let it go. Try out for yourself the idea of just backing off from a situation where an argument is developing. Somebody differs with you, smile and say, “Well, you could be right. You probably are.” Well, where can they go with that? [chuckle] That pulls the teeth of the argument. You don’t have to give back. If somebody snubs you, you don’t have to snub him or her or them. Somebody fails to invite you to a very important occasion. You say to yourself, “All right, just wait. Next time I’ve got something going on they won’t be on my list either.” Somebody fails to send you a Christmas card. This happens to everybody. Somebody fails to send you a Christmas card, and you say, “We never got a card from the Joneses. Now, all right, we won’t send them one either.” [chuckle] No, don’t do it. Don’t do it. Keep the Joneses on your list and love them a little extra. You’ll be surprised what it may do. Evil as over against evil, but rather, rather follow that which is good. Now that word follow is our word pursue, Greek verb “dioko”. Pursue, run after it, like a cop runs after a fleeing criminal. Run after it. Pursue.
When I was riding with the police in Briarcliff, I was special patrolman 106 in those days. I took the 10 week course and and got my full carry pistol permit from the state. That’s a rough deal in New York as you know. But there I was, I figured if I’m responsible for a thousand people on this campus, I’m gonna be responsible. So all right, I was with them and I would frequently ride with the policeman who happened to be on duty when I was free of an evening or all through one night or something like that, and we would talk about it. And so, one time we were talking, Hank Kauffman and I were talking about this matter of how a policeman ought to drive, and he showed me. I think I swallowed my heart five minutes or so later. He showed me how to drive defensively down a twisting road, and he was pretty good at it, I must say. But I said, “Well now, suppose somebody is guilty of a crime, and they’re running away, what are you supposed to do? “Well,” he said, “you go catch him if you can, but you better radio in that you’re in hot pursuit of the offender, the violator, the perpetrator if it’s a felony.
Hot pursuit, that’s what the law enforcement people talk about. And do you know this verb ‘dioko’ is exactly that, hot pursuit. Now what am I supposed to pursue? He said, “Always be in hot pursuit of what is good.” Look for something good. Look for something good you can see and appreciate. They said of Joe Ankerberg in Chicago, he would notice something about a boy in his Sunday school class even if it was only one new shoe lace, and I can identify with that. When I was a kid, you never used a whole pair of shoe laces; you replaced the one that broke. He would notice something about a boy.
There’s a book that’s now out of print, don’t ask me where to get it ’cause it’s way out of print many years ago, but it’s called “Try Giving Yourself Away.” And in it, the author says that you look for something good to notice about people. He said, “Maybe you’re on your way to work, and you’re walking down the sidewalk and you see a little six year old sitting on the front step of her house and her hair is neatly combed. There’s a hair ribbon. You know this family is very poor, but there she is, she’s got a new hair ribbon and she’s got a dress, which though old has been washed and pressed, and she looks so nice. You stop and you say, “you know deary you look wonderful today. You look so nice.” Well, hey, you’ve made her day. She’s gonna remember that. You noticed something about her. You looked for something good.
Dale Carnegie tells the story of the cranky railroad clerk. You know that one? You find it in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” The cranky railroad clerk that was just snarling and biting at people, and he was just so surly. And Mr Carnegie said when he was standing in line he thought to himself, “What is there that I can compliment about this man sincerely?” So when he got up to the window, it was his turn. The man didn’t even look up. He said, “Well?” and Dale Carnegie said, “You know, I wish I had your beautiful head of hair.” Now the man had a fine head of iron gray hair that was obviously well taken care of. Well, he looked up and he smiled, he says, “Well, I do try to take care of it,” and his mood changed entirely. Now nobody ever said that to me, because when I get a haircut, I say, “I’m going out for a hair cut,” my wife says, “Which one?” [chuckle] Not much left there on top. But then, as Ben Weiss used to say, “I never saw a bald gorilla yet,” so I’m in good company.
No, you look for something good about people. There’s a book that you’ll find in your bookstore called “The 60 Second to Manager” or something like that. It’s little bits of management advice. “The One Minute Manager”, whatever they call it, little bits of management advice. And in it there is a section that says, “Try to catch people doing something right.” Now if you’re looking for flaws, you can always find them, like an army sergeant inspecting the rifles of the people in his detail. He’ll come with white gloves and he’ll rub those white gloves along the rifle to see whether there’s the slightest spec of oil or grease left on it. If you’re looking for flaws, you can find them. But try looking for something good. Catch people in the act of doing something right and notice it. Well, they’ll love you for it, they’ll appreciate it so much, and you will find that that kind of effort is so much more constructive so far as you yourself are concerned. “Always,” said he, “be in hot pursuit of that which is good, both among yourselves and to all.”
Often times, remember this beloved, oftentimes a chance to preach the gospel will come out of a well deserved and sincere compliment that you make to somebody that isn’t saved. I used to work in the garage, and so I like being in people’s shops and garages. Very frequently, I’ll stop by and chat with somebody in a setting like that. And if I see them doing something that might be difficult but doing it right and efficiently, I’ll comment on it. It shows two things. One, it shows that I know what they’re doing, and two, it shows that I appreciate the effort that they’re making. And oftentimes, it will open up a conversation. You don’t have to limit your good attitudes toward other Christians. Try appreciating somebody’s work, somebody who is unsaved. Try sincere appreciation on somebody whom you’re trying to win to Christ. You’d be amazed. It will immediately provide what we call rapport, which is a word meaning they trust you. They feel comfortable with you. You try that. He said, “hot pursuit of good both among yourselves and to all people.”
So look for something to appreciate today, will you? Be an encourager. If you see somebody that’s working hard and doing a good job, say so. If you see somebody doing something right, say so. And of course, if you see somebody that needs a little encouraging, even though that he may not be making too much progress, you stop and just express appreciation for the effort that’s being put forth. Little three year old Gretta doesn’t write very well yet, but she produces huge finger paintings, which to her are expressive, and so, here she comes with one, she says, “This is a card I made for you Papi.” Well I can’t read it. What is it supposed to say? But I can look at her and I say, “Oh, you worked awfully hard on that, didn’t you, sweetie? Thank you very much.” See the difference? Even though you’re not certain that the person is the greatest genius in the world at his work, you could appreciate what’s going on. You can be in hot pursuit of something good. Now we come on to the rest of 1 Thessalonians 5, the next time we get together. Dear Father today, help us pursue good things and to see good in other people and thus win them to thee. In Jesus name, Amen. ‘Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing.
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