Most people can recognise that doing a good deed makes you feel good. Have you ever thought about why?
The Bible teaches that humans are made in the image of God, and that love characterises who God is. This means that when we express love to others we are doing something that we were made to do. Fish were made to swim, birds were made to fly, and we were made to love. And when we do, we are in our element and feel euphoria – like a bird taking flight. The fact that it doesn’t come naturally and we more often live for ourselves makes the boost to our souls all the more obvious.
Now by “loving” I don’t mean a live-and-let-live attitude by which we don’t upset the applecart and nicely tolerate each other, but much more a Good Samaritan-type of attitude. Jesus loved us by sacrificing himself for our eternal wellbeing and he taught that we should love each other in the same way – by making sacrifices for each other’s wellbeing. Again he was pointing to the way humans function best, and for this reason, when we truly act for the wellbeing of others we feel a boost in our souls – we are like a fish returning to water, or a bird taking flight.
I heard a story on the radio a few years ago about a psychologist in Melbourne who treated a number of his patients who were very successful but unhappy, in an unusual way. He prescribed a weekly program of doing good deeds for others! He was tapping into one of Christ’s deep insights into how the human soul thrives.
Imagine how happy we would be as a suburb if we all had a go at embracing the wisdom of Jesus by making little sacrifices for each other’s wellbeing: on the roads, when we see a need, when we have different views on things – whether over football or the same-sex marriage debate, or with an encouraging word.