Doing good is one of the best ways to beat the darker sides of our nature and advance spiritual growth. Goodness is a multiplier.
In his autobiography I Was Wrong (1996), former televangelist, Jim Bakker, tells of his descent into ignominy, impoverishment, and imprisonment.1 He frankly admits his dishonesty, deception, and fraudulent behavior. As a result he lost his freedom, dignity, confidence in his faith, and eventually his wife.
Inmate 07407-058, one-time beloved televangelist, once advisor to presidents, hit rock bottom. If anyone was apparently unworthy of goodness it was Jim Bakker. Yet if anyone desperately needed goodness, it was Jim Bakker.
Bakker recalls that he was at his very lowest point when something miraculous happened. A prison official told him, “Billy Graham is here to see you.”
He thought, Billy Graham has come here? To this place? To see me? When Bakker walked into the room, Billy Graham turned toward him, arms opened wide.
Bakker described how he experienced the incredible power of goodness. “I will never forget that the man who had just been voted one of the most influential men in the world, and who has ministered to millions of people, took time out of his busy schedule to come minister to one prisoner.” In the midst of Bakker’s depression and hopelessness, Graham’s act of goodness refreshed his heart and boosted his spirit. “I felt as though Jesus Himself had come to visit me,” he said.
We see the effect of the universal goodness multiplier in that one act of goodness by Billy Graham to Jim Bakker (see Gal. 6:7; 2 Cor. 9:6; Prov. 11:18):
To a greater or lesser degree, the goodness multiplier is operational every time an act of goodness occurs. Paul demonstrates this goodness principle in his letter to Philemon on behalf of Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus.
He wrote: “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray your partnership with us in the faith may become effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people” (Philemon 1:4-7).
Ellen White wrote: “We may never know until the judgment the influence of a kind, considerate course of action to the inconsistent, the unreasonable, and unworthy.”2
Let us adopt John Wesley’s rules for life and be multipliers for good:
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
Delbert W. Baker is vice chancellor of Adventist University of Africa, near Nairobi, Kenya.