In Praise of Simple Things by Jeffrey Rosario

In Praise of Simple Things

by Jeffrey Rosario  |  June 3, 2013

Last Friday, I was out of the country at a conference in Spain. My wife, Marianna, was driving to Portland with her brother and little sister. She noticed the steering was funny and then realized she had a flat tire. She randomly pulled into the first side street she saw and found herself in front of a mechanic shop.

But it was 7 p.m. on a Friday and the shop was already closed. The two mechanics inside had just finished sweeping and mopping the floor from a long day’s work. “Sorry, we’re closed,” said one of them. But then the other mechanic said, “I’ll fix it for you.” The other one whispered to him, “But we’re closed.” “I’ll do it for free,” he said. My wife was totally surprised.

 Cultivating an awareness of the practical needs of those around us is among the most basic virtues of the Christian’s experience.

I know it seems so small and simple. But that’s the point. That act of kindness lit her up. That man had no idea what was going on in her life. He knew nothing of the burdens she’d been shouldering that week. His act of kindness was a godsend, literally.

That experience reminds me of the simplicity of the gospel. It’s practical. It finds its clearest expression in the small, simple things. And those small, simple gestures often have big, far reaching effects.

We don’t know the burdens that are on the hearts of those that surround us daily. A simple gesture can go a long way.

Keep it Spontaneous 

According to the New Testament, cultivating an awareness of the practical needs of those around us is among the most basic virtues of the Christian’s experience. Jesus made a big deal about this in Matthew 25:31-46. It’s a pretty dramatic vision of the end of the world when the Son of Man is sitting on His throne and the whole world is summoned before Him.

At that time there are only two categories of people: the sheep and the goats. This is the moment of truth when everyone’s true colors are shown. Christ tells the sheep, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (v. 34).

Along with this awesome invitation, they are given the reason they received it:

I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. (Matthew 25:35-36)

The reaction of the righteous is worth noting. “What?” they say, “When did we do all those things to you?” You can almost see the confusion on their faces. I get a sense that if given more time they would have protested and announced that there’d been a mix up of the names and they were mistakenly elected.

But it’s in their confusion that we see the certainty of their qualification. They lived a life of spontaneous compassion and kindness. It was a natural impulse from a heart touched by the love of God. They didn’t have to try; it was merely a gospel induced, knee-jerk reaction. Don’t miss the subtle point Jesus is making: they were unaware that they were getting credit for what they did.

Ellen White chimes in on this theme in Christ’s Object Lessons, page 384:

Love is the basis of godliness. Whatever the profession, no man has pure love to God unless he has unselfish love for his brother. But we can never come into possession of this spirit by trying to love others. What is needed is the love of Christ in the heart. When self is merged in Christ, love springs forth spontaneously. The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within. . .

These righteous souls had demonstrated a sincere encounter with God by the way they involved themselves in the lives of others. They had passed the test without even knowing they were being graded for it.

In the next scene Jesus replies with those well-known words:

Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. (Matthew 25:40)

That’s a beautiful summary of the essence of Christianity. The principles of the kingdom have social implications right here, right now. May God help us to immerse ourselves so deeply in the love of God that we’ll be confused when our deeds of compassion are noted in the afterlife. May the gospel spring forth spontaneously from our words, from the expression on our faces, and from our random acts of kindness!

Jeffrey Rosario Speaker
Light Bearers
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  • “Search heaven and earth, and there is no truth revealed more powerful than that which is made manifest in works of mercy to those who need our sympathy and aid. This IS the truth as it is in Jesus.” I’m sharing that from memory, but I think it’s verbatim. Amazing, huh? And we thought it was all about doctrine . . well, it was, in a way . . .

  • claudine

    Whaat a sad day if we must hear the words ” Depart from Me I know you not” But Lord!

  • We see God’s love from another angle here – he will quiet you with his love, not a good translation – he will be silent in his love – is better. Here is a picture of perfect contentment – the mother holding her new born baby close to her, as the baby lies sleeping with its velvet soft skin pressed against hers. She is silent in her love. Wordless adoration. The husband who looks into his wife’s eyes and is lost for words – no words seem adequate. He will be quiet with love. Can you grasp it? The almighty God looking at you and me, with a look of perfect contentment on his face? We’re not perfect yet – we know that, he knows that, but he is not bounded by time – he can see in us the unfinished image of his son, finished in all its glory and as he looks he is quiet in his contented love for us. He looks with that look of love that he has had from the beginning of time. The word used here for love is a word that speaks of a fathers intense fondness for his son, like Jacob to Joseph; it speaks of the deep heartfelt bond between David and Jonathan, where one would die for the other; it speaks of a passionate love, like the love between Jacob and Rachel. The love God has for us is the love that never fails, despite our failings, and it is also the passionate longing of his heart, an intense desire for us, deep and heartfelt. Amazing – how could the holy, righteous God ever feel like that towards us?

  • Some say, “What good did will I receive from helping someone I’ve never seen before and will likely never see again?”

    God points us to the great example of the garden. Dr. Larry Dossey says that “the garden is a metaphor for life and gardening is a symbol of the spiritual path”. A harvest can only follow if sowing and tending occurs and, in this world, it is often the case that the sowing, tending, and harvesting is done by many different souls who are unaware of their part (or the parts of others) in the process. No matter how seemingly insignificant, no act of service is lost. It is always returns to the sower abundantly.

    Yet, for me, the best reward of such action is the realization that every act of kindness, every act that lifts a soul, brings joy to the heart of God and assuages His pain. In this and many other ways we are all connected by blessed bonds that will never be broken.

  • Yesterday I had several experiences that I feel were opportunities to demonstrate what you highlighted in your wife’s experience receiving unexpected kindnesses and help from others.

    One involved a woman whose mother is dying, a gentleman that had an appointment to meet me who was late but without my phone number… He sent a prayer to God and at that moment I called him to find out why he had missed his appointment. What was really amazing was the third gentleman who was supposed to meet with had just called to tell me his car would not start… could he reschedule his appointment in the afternoon.

    All three of these were separate but connected and I experienced the thrill of God’s intervention in each incident that allowed me to witness to each one I met with by affirming God’s amazing interest in each of our life’s daily challenges.

    What an amazing God!

  • Jimmy Estrada

    So true.. Thank you for sharing

  • When some people hear that God’s love is self-giving, sacrificial, unconditional, eternal, and infinite, they get the idea that it is merely soft, sloppy sentimentality, that God is an indulgent Father who gives us everything we want and conveniently turns His head the other way when we sin. But that is not the case. Everything God does is done in the totality of His being, so His love must always be consistent with His other attributes. Since God is holy, then His love must be a holy love that encourages holiness in those loved. The evidence is overwhelming! For example, in the same context in which Paul explains that we in love were predestined unto the adoption of sons, he states God’s purpose for choosing us. It is “that we should be holy and without blame before Him” (Ephesians 1:4). Love and obedience consistently go together in Scripture: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3; cf. also John 14:15; 15:10).

  • Psalm 37:28 For the LORD loves justice, And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever; But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.