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Man breaks hip mowing lawn, EMTs finish his yard work: The joy of anonymous service

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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Category Culture

Harold Storelee, age eighty-eight, was cutting his grass one morning last week when he fell. He was unable to get up.

Three boys walking by his home in Rochester, Washington, heard his cries for help and flagged down a car to call 911.

An ambulance rushed to the scene and three emergency responders took Storelee to a nearby hospital. He had broken a hip.

The three firefighter EMTs spent the rest of the day racing to car accidents and other calamities. At around 5 p.m., one of them asked his two co-workers if they would be up for going back to Storelee’s house to finish his lawn.

They agreed, so the trio went to the house, where they spent an hour mowing, sweeping, and tidying up. “We knew he’d be down for a while,” one of them said. “We figured the least we could do was go back and help out.”

They didn’t do this for the acclaim. A neighbor saw them at work and took their picture. Storelee’s grandson posted the photo on Twitter with a statement explaining their service.

The joy of anonymous service

When we do more than we have to do without seeking credit for our altruism, more people benefit than we might imagine.

There are the people whom we serve directly. There are the people who inevitably find out about our service and emulate our actions and/or our humility. For Christians, there is the eternal reward we receive for caring for others in Jesus’ name (cf. Matthew 25:21). And there is the glory we bring to God by emulating his Son’s servant heart (cf. Luke 19:10).

In a consumeristic culture that measures us by performance and popularity, anonymous acts of service are not always recognized on earth, but they are in heaven. In fact, Jesus promised that “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:4).

Such reward, however, is not the best motive for anonymous service.

The better motive is transformational, not transactional. It is serving others out of gratitude for all the ways God has served us. It is expressing the change his Spirit has made in our lives by seeking to change the world for God’s glory. It is paying forward what has been given to us.

Such external service is often the best indicator of internal integrity. It’s been said that the best test of a person’s character is whether they treat well those they do not have to treat well.

If you’ll ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to serve someone who cannot repay you, expect him to answer your prayer today.

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