Monday’s Messianic Taste of Hidden Manna #60
A Billion Small Differences and Acts of Lovingkindness
Amid a Billion Problems
When it comes to the range of possibilities for making a small difference or doing an act of lovingkindness, the sky is the limit. How can we love another person by tangible acts of service? Let us exhaust the ways! However, let us never lose sight of the fact that every small difference and act of lovingkindness matters! Everyone’s calling and life situation is different and accompanied by specific limitations, constraints, challenges, and problems. There should be no comparisons between persons regarding the small differences we are able to make or the acts of lovingkindness we are able to do. Moreover, we must take care of ourselves if we are going to take care of others. Even sacrificial attention to the needs or concerns of others does not call for the reckless neglect of one’s own self care. Read Philippians 2:3–4 carefully in a translation such as the NET, and understand ‘interests’ as ‘concerns’.
One by One by One: Every Person is a Person
This past summer, my ‘leisure’ reading included the incredible page turner One by One by One: Making a Small Difference Amid a Billion Problems by Howard Silverman’s cousin, Aaron Berkowitz. My use of the term ‘page turner’ is no exaggeration as I could not put the book down. Thus, I finished it in just a few days. It’s all about the collaborative provision of medical care to persons in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti. A careful reading of this book reveals a dual truth: one person can make a difference, and making a small difference by serving even one person is significant! In fact, there is a Haitian proverb that rightly states, “Tout moun se moun” (“Every person is a person”)! The global healthcare and justice luminary Dr. Paul Farmer (who is a cofounder of Partners in Health) strongly notes that this Haitian proverb doesn’t allow for some lives to matter less!
Think Differently About Making a Difference
The ‘billion problems’ that one encounters when trying to help the Haitian people must not stop us from helping! Dr. Farmer rightly insists that we must not be overwhelmed by the historical, economical, and political problems. In fact, he goes so far as to say that not doing whatever it takes to reverse the inequities for the poor constitutes a ‘failure of imagination’. Having served a social impact organization that was devoted to changing lives in Haiti in the 1990s, I know firsthand what it feels like to think that what we do there to help is like a drop in the bucket (i.e., a very small quantity of something compared to what is needed). However, the Haitian people rightly rebuked us for this Western thinking. They explained that the fact that we came to visit in person—by itself—communicated our understanding that every person is a person and ‘Haitian lives matter’. And of course we learned that all the Western ‘inconveniences’ in the world could not remotely be compared to the suffering of the people in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. My wife and I were mindful to take our children to Haiti when they were in their teens, and it changed their thinking and way of life forever. There is nothing like a visit to Haiti to enable us to think differently about making even a small difference wherever we are in the world.
A Billion Small Differences and Acts of Lovingkindness Amid a Billion Problems
Those who love God and are in Messiah Yeshua, in particular, know that the “Way of the LORD” is altogether about DOING righteousness and justice, and loving our neighbor as ourselves in tangible acts of service. In the new covenant, Leviticus 19:18b is all the more held up as the summational commandment and ethical summit of the Scriptures. Moreover, as you read the full context of Leviticus 19, you see the wide range of tangible acts of service that exemplify ‘love’ of one’s neighbor. Through wisdom and imagining the possibilities in the inaugurated new covenant, we are to fill up the full measure of such tangible acts of service.
Note well that 1 John 2:29 emphatically states, “If you know that He is righteous, you also know that every person who is characterized by doing righteousness has been fathered by Him”. Moreover, Romans 6:13 emphasizes the fact that those in Messiah offer the parts of their body to God as instruments of righteousness. And, righteousness is doing what is rightly obligated in all relationships and situations. Thus, doing righteousness translates to a billion small differences and acts of lovingkindness all over the world in our everyday lives. There is no need to pray for opportunities to make a difference or act in lovingkindness. All we need to do is open our eyes to the opportunities amid the billion problems around us—and then act!
Every Small Difference and Act of Lovingkindness Matters!
When it comes to the range of possibilities for making a small difference or doing an act of lovingkindness, the sky is the limit. How can we love another person by tangible acts of service? Let us exhaust the ways! However, let us never lose sight of the fact that every small difference and act of lovingkindness matters! Everyone’s calling and life situation is different and accompanied by specific limitations, constraints, challenges, and problems. There should be no comparisons between persons regarding the small differences we are able to make or the acts of lovingkindness we are able to do. Moreover, we must take care of ourselves if we are going to take care of others. Even sacrificial attention to the needs of others does not call for the reckless neglect of one’s own self care. Read Philippians 2:3–4 carefully in a translation such as the NET, and understand ‘interests’ as ‘concerns’.
Small Differences and Acts of Lovingkindness: Let us Exhaust the Ways!
One’s whole life may be devoted to caring for one’s own child or children with special needs. Such a parent likely makes a thousand small differences and does a thousand acts of lovingkindness in a single day. One might actually help a next door neighbor with a host of things in life. We are overjoyed to live in a neighborhood where everyone gets to know each other and make small differences or do acts of lovingkindness for one another all the time. One might visit another person, or call them up, or videochat with them, or send them a thoughtful card or note, without there being some occasion or holiday involved. One might be mindful to greet and engage all the persons they encounter every day with a sense of dignity and respect so that they know we know ‘every person is a person’. In fact, that is the heart of the meaning of Leviticus 19:18b. Thus Jacob (James) rightly declared, “You do well if you carry out the royal or kingdom law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (James 2:8). And, given that Purim has just passed, who knows whether the situation or role you find yourself in right now was precisely intended to make a difference for such a time as this in God’s history! Let us despise neither the day of small things nor the day of great things!
No matter what the circumstances, when it comes to making small differences or doing acts of lovingkindness in God’s history—let us exhaust the ways!
In your service always, Henri Louis Goulet
Image by Alessandro Ceccucci at Pixabay