‘It’s the Christian Thing to Do,’ Now More Than Ever

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I picked up the phone in my kitchen to make a call, but before I could dial, I heard the voice of my next-door neighbor. She was already in conversation with another person.

It was a glitch, a hitch. It was crosstalk. 

This was long after the time of party calls, by the way—and long before cell phones. 

Somehow, our phone lines had merged and I could hear every word my neighbor was saying to whomever she was already speaking.

It was a friend, perhaps. Maybe a cousin. Maybe a fellow worshipper at the church she attended every Sunday. 

I didn’t know and it wasn’t my business anyway. I went to hang up so as not to disrupt them or invade their privacy.

But then my neighbor—an elderly woman with the biggest heart on our block, a person who’d been a lovely friend to my husband and me ever since we’d moved in as a young couple with children—said something I’ve never forgotten.

I have no idea what their earlier conversation was about, of course. But it almost didn’t matter.

Right before I hung up, I heard my neighbor say in a gentle, understanding tone, “It’s the Christian thing to do.”

There was no irony, no anger. She said the line simply, kindly, and thoughtfully to whomever she was speaking. 

“It’s the Christian thing to do.”

Of course she would say that, I thought to myself with a smile as I disconnected. That’s how she’d been living her entire life, from what I could tell.

This neighbor toiled often for those less fortunate. She was always busy with projects at her church, with clothing drives and food drives. 

She and her husband raised two beautiful girls, and those girls grew up to be responsible, lovely women who, as we speak, are giving back to their communities. 

At Christmas, my neighbor gave gifts to others around her.

Related: The Enduring Power of ‘A Christmas Carol’

No matter the time of year, she always had a ready smile and a key piece of advice about the yard, the garden, the house, the neighborhood. 

She was a friendly, positive force, and we were very fond of her.

We felt lucky we’d gotten to know her and were the beneficiaries of her kindness. 

“It’s the Christian thing to do.”

I’ve remembered her words all these years and the circumstances in which I heard her say them—and, at random times and on random days, I’ve thought of them.

And always for the good.

Help a friend who’s struggling with something. Make time for it. It’s the Christian thing to do.

Find forgiveness in your heart for those who have hurt you. It’s the Christian thing to do.

Be patient with others when your instinct is to rush. It’s the Christian thing to do.

Related: Charity Begins at Home

Try not to judge, as hard as this can be in a rough-and-tumble world. It’s the Christian thing to do.

Rediscover kindness, even when you’re overwhelmed. It’s the Christian thing to do.

We never know how others are going to teach us.

We never know how a random line is going to reach us.

Or how God is going to be present, if we’re open to His messages—even when we least expect them.

Maureen Mackey is a writer, editor, and digital content strategist in the New York City area.

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