“You’re doing more good than you know.” M. Norvel Young
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

I’m a guy who likes an apt phrase or a pithy saying, particularly if it captures a truth about life in a simple and memorable way. Here are a few of my favorites. “Get busy living or get busy dying.” “Few people are so evil as to be one hundred percent wrong.” “Whom you would change, you must first love.” “Criticize by creating something beautiful.” “It’s always too soon to quit.” “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Despite my fondness for aphorisms, I can claim few original sayings of my own. However, I do have an observation from my thirty plus years as a minister that I’ll offer for your consideration. It is, very simply, “Good gathers good.” Good gathers good is what happens when one person is doing the right thing and others come alongside to join in doing that good.

I have seen the principle of “Good gathers good” at work again and again. Habitat for Humanity has built more than 800,000 homes for needy families, all by volunteers. Good gathers good. Five years ago, Conejo’s own Kellie Van Atta made a resolution to do more service with her family. Since then, she has led a wide variety of monthly family service projects, drawing volunteers from the community and our congregation. Good gathers good. For at least ten years, Rob West has coordinated volunteers from our church and community to tutor first grade students at Conejo Elementary. Good gathers good. I’ve mentioned recently about a high school senior and a fourth grader from our church family mobilizing our resources to provide school supplies for homeless kids and diapers for foster babies. Good gathers good.

A year-end article by New York Times opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof reminded me of  another way in which “good gathers good.” My impression is that many of us have a negative opinion of the way our world is going. Kristof simply offers a wide variety of positive data from around the world, writing, “The bad things that you fret about are true. But it’s also true that… 2019 was probably the year in which children were least likely to die, adults were least likely to be illiterate and people were least likely to suffer excruciating and disfiguring diseases.” The proportion of the world’s population that lives in “extreme poverty”, defined as $2 a day, has decreased from 42% in 1981 to less that 10% today. If we are deeply pessimistic about the state of our world, we are more likely to feel helpless and less likely to do anything about it.

May I offer you a word of encouragement as we begin a new year? Don’t be like those who are hamstrung by the cynicism and darkness of our world. Be a sharer of good news. Be a doer of good. Through your good deeds, you may gather others who will join you in doing good. Sometimes, all that is needed to get a wonderful ministry started is one person who will stand up and say, “I’ll do it!” And people come out of the woodwork to be part of it. May God stir in us the courage to overcome evil with good.