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Friday, September 2, 2011

Good Deeds and Angels

I have received quite a few positive responses to my last post concerning my encounter with an unknown man on a bus in New York City back in 1978. Thank-you for your kind words. And I agree, it is always a good idea to treat people, especially strangers, with some degree of decorum, because we never know if we are in the presence of an agent from God, otherwise known as 'angels.'

People who are spiritually attuned know that life always presents endless possibilities for the divine presence to manifest itself. God works in mysterious ways.

Was the man who helped me on that bus an angel? There is no way to know for sure. Further, it depends on how one defines the term 'angel.'

Symbolically speaking, anyone can be an angel for someone at some time. For example, if you decide to purchase the meal of a member of the U.S. armed forces that you may see sitting in a restaurant, it could well be that he/she will consider you to be an 'angel.' If you send someone a monetary gift to help defray burdensome medical expenses, the recipient may consider you to be an angel, even if you do it anonymously.

In fact, I have always believed that the best way to give to someone in need is to do it anonymously. That way you can know in the depths of your soul that what you are doing is not for the praise, not for the attention, not for a pat on the back or any other pay-off. You are doing it merely because you want to help. And it is not important for anyone to know.

I remember hearing Norman Vincent Peale tell about comedienne Carol Burnett's experience in this regard.

Burnett related that when she first started out in comedy someone did something for her that helped her tremendously in the process of 'breaking in' to the very difficult arena known as show business. The person would not give his/her name. But they requested that in exchange for the gift, Burnett would promise to do the same thing for someone else once she 'made it big.'

I always liked that story, and I have shared it many times through the years.

My friends, if you give to the church or to someone in need only for the tax break, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. If you give a gift only for recognition or to be known in the community for your generosity or for being 'a great philanthropist,' you are giving for the wrong reasons. If you do good deeds for others only for the pay-off of a 'good reputation,' then your good deeds are doing you no good whatsoever from a spiritual standpoint.

Don't get me wrong, the gifts that you give and the good deeds you perform are still needed and much appreciated. But for you, there is no real spiritual value because your motivation is all wrong.

Unless your gift, your act of kindness, your generosity, comes from the heart out of a sense of compassion and out of a desire to obey the command of Christ to voluntarily, of your own free will, feed the hungry, visit the sick and the imprisoned, help the poor, the homeless, and the widows and orphans, then spiritually speaking your deeds are all in vain.

As the Bible says, "Let every man examine himself."

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