I read a blog post a while ago about three questions one mom asks her kids about their friends. I’ve forgotten where I saw it. The third question was, “When was the last time they did something good when they thought no one would see it?”
I’m not sure that’s a fair question because, well, kids know how to be sneaky. Even about being good. But yesterday I remembered the question, because it’s true that how we act in private is a good reflection of who we really are.
When putting the baby to sleep, I have to do apparently boring things, so last night I was reading “Not Always Right” waiting for the baby to get bored enough to drift off. I came across a story about a woman who didn’t understand why ten dollars wouldn’t fill her gas tank.
After all, back when her husband used to fill the gas tank, God rest his soul, it was always ten dollars. And ever since he died, she would give her son-in-law ten dollars, and he would fill her tank too.
The point of the entry seems to be that the woman is out of touch or simply rude, but what I found sweet was that this woman had no idea her son-in-law had been spotting her twenty to thirty dollars every time he put gas in her car. That not only was this man taking his mother-in-law’s car on a regular basis to fill it up (and we all know how exciting that is) but that he never bothered giving her the receipt and asking for the difference.
The cynical part of me can think, “Maybe she browbeat him and insisted it could only be ten dollars.” But the better part of me believes this man was performing a hidden act of kindness to his wife’s mother, showing his care by shielding the woman from a reality gone harsh. Filling her tank, taking her money, maybe even giving her change.
Jesus says that things done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops, and I would hope the good things get shouted too. The little acts of patience, the hedges we build around others’ hearts, the gifts never recognized by the recipients.