Some years ago at a Special Olympics a number of contestants assembled at the starting line of a 100-yard dash. At the gun they all started out with relish to finish the race. They lumbered down the track with all their might, except for one athlete. As the race began, that racer stumbled, tumbled a couple times, scraped a knee, and lay on the track crying.
Several of the others in the race happened to look back and saw the contestant lying on the track, alone. Instead of continuing to run toward the finish line, they slowed down, paused, turned around, and ran back. They helped the fallen one back up and crossed the finish line together. The crowd went wild, standing in amazement at this act of unselfish compassion and service.
In the competitive rat race of the twenty-first century this act of unselfish kindness by these children speaks to us all. There is something fundamentally wrong with our corporate societal thinking when glitz and glamour are more important than goodness and graciousness; when getting is more important than giving, and dominating more important than serving.
William Wordsworth wrote, “The best portions of a good man’s life [are] his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” And no one modeled this principle better than Jesus. Jesus’ entire life was focused on service. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the depressed, lifted the downtrodden, and forgave the guilty. He specialized in giving sinners and outcasts a new start.
Unselfish giving and selfless acts of kindness are still the hallmarks of true greatness.
Mark Finley is editor-at-large of the Adventist Review. This article was published December 27, 2012.