There's no denying that we are supposed to do good to others. The Bible makes that abundantly clear in verses such as "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it" (Proverbs 3:27, ESV) or "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17, NKJV). Yet, I still find myself thinking that somehow good deeds will offset my bad deeds, as if it wasn't something I'm expected to do, and, instead, is something I'm doing out of my own goodness.
If our good deeds, in fact, earn us something (love from God, admission into heaven, forgiveness, etc) then how good do we have to be? Is sharing a cookie sufficient? Is mending a relationship you would have otherwise given up on sufficient? Is selling everything we have and giving it away sufficient? Is it, as Joey proposes in the above clip, that there is nothing such as a selfless good deed because you feel better as as result of it?
It may be fun to debate the existence of altruism, but the selflessness of a deed is not the most important thing to consider. When unsure of what to do, we can ask ourselves:
- Is this how I want to be treated?
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38).
- Do I feel good about this decision?
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
- Can this deed bring glory to God?
"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God" (2 Corinthians 9:11)
These questions won't tell you the right thing to do in every situation, but they're a good place to start.