A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Withholding Good

Posted on: June 16, 2014

I used to work in Toronto near the waterfront. Most days, at the intersection closest to my building, a man stood begging for change during the afternoon rush hour. If I had some change, I gave him some. But how many other people in need of a little change did I pass by on my way to the train station?

How many times have I hesitated to volunteer my time or to lend items for fear I wouldn’t get them back?

How many times have I put off making phone calls because I didn’t feel like talking?

The other day I read something in Proverbs 3:27* that made me pause:

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

when it is in your power to do it.

Today we have less of a sense of duty than earlier generations did. In some ways, that’s a good thing. We don’t have to marry just because our families think we should if we haven’t met the right person yet. We don’t have to pursue the career our relatives think we should if the interests and abilities God has given us lie elsewhere.

But in some ways, it’s a bad thing. We can focus a little too much on the “me” and not enough on the “we” in our day-to-day decision making:

  • We can be more interested in entertaining ourselves with TV and video games than in helping with chores so our household runs more smoothly and no one carries an unfair share of the workload.
  • We can sit back at our children’s games rather than volunteer when referees are late or stay in the church pew when the sacristan or lector doesn’t show up rather than step up to help the service run well.
  • We can let other people tidy up after school, community or church events and not help to make the work go faster because we want to get home.

I’m not suggesting we volunteer for every class trip, every church event, every worthy cause. It’s easy to overextend ourselves and perhaps be less than helpful if we volunteer for tasks we lack the skills to achieve. But if we lend a hand on a small scale more often when we do have the power to help—by driving our kids’ soccer teammates home after a game, lending our neighbours our tall stepladder to change some pot lights, babysitting (or puppy sitting) one night for a relative or friend, or cutting the grass for neighbours on vacation—we may do more good than we know.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)


1 Response to "Withholding Good"

We should always act out of love.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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