Have I done any good in the world today?

Have I done any good in the world today?

(This post contains affiliate links.) I recently stumbled upon the hymn “Have I done any good in the world today?” written by Will L. Thompson (1847-1909).

Have I done any good in the world today?

In a world full of heartache where just watching the news is enough to send me into a downward spiral of depression, it can be easy to lose hope. I am just one among so many, after all. But, no! Each one of us has the opportunity, every single day, to do good. Our actions, no matter how small, really do make a difference. The good really does outweigh the bad in this world and our efforts to do good can have a huge impact. What work could be more important?

I hope you find the beautiful words of the hymn as inspirational as I did:

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

I am currently re-reading Life in the World Unseen by Anthony Borgia, in which the deceased Monsignor Robert Hugh (son of a former Archbishop of Canterbury) recounts his experiences of the afterlife through the medium Anthony Borgia. The following excerpt, taken from a description of a visit to an inhabitant of the dark spheres of the Spirit World, reminds us that it is our motive for the good we do that counts and that just ‘doing no harm’ is not enough:

…in his earth life he had been a successful business man – successful, that is, as far as the earth-plane judges such things. He had not thought of much else than his business, and he always considered that any means were justified in gaining his own ends, provided they were legal. He was ruthless in his dealings with all others, and he elevated efficiency to the level of a god. In his home all things – and people – were subservient to him. He gave generously to charity where there was likely to accrue the greatest advantage and credit. He supported his own religion and church with vigor, regularity, and fervor. He felt that he was an ornament to the church, and he was much esteemed by all those connected with it. He added some new portions to the edifice at his own expense, and a chapel was named after him as the donor. But from what Edwin had been able to glean from his story, he had scarcely committed one decent, unselfish action in the whole of his life. His motive was always self-aggrandizement, and he had achieved his purpose on earth at the absolute expense of his life in the spirit world…

Again he could not see that it is motive that counts, and that a happy state in the spirit world cannot be bought for hard cash. A small service willingly and generously performed for a fellow mortal builds a greater edifice in spirit to the glory of God than do large sums of money expended upon ecclesiastical bricks and mortar erected to the glory of man – with full emphasis upon the donor…

The people living within these hovels that we were passing were not necessarily those who upon earth had committed some crime in the eyes of the earth people. There were many people who, without doing any harm, had never, never done any good to a single mortal upon earth. People who had lived entirely unto themselves, without a thought for others. Such souls constantly harped upon the theme that they had done no harm to anyone. But they had harmed themselves.

  • Love this! It’s such a great reminder and question to ask ourselves everyday! We ask our daughter something similar at bedtime every night. It is so important to leave a trail of love and kindness everywhere we go.

  • I find it can be easy to always ask what is owed to us, rather than asking what we can give. This post serves as a great reminder.

  • Meghann2014

    Really lovely thought to contemplate! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • This is such a good reminder. It can be really easy to get sucked into the negativity that seems to be surrounding us everyday, but it’s important to try and bring light into the world!

  • Adaleta Avdic

    I always like to ask myself about doing good, and if I’ve done something good that day! xx adaatude.com

  • Tabitha Shakespeare

    What a great read! I have never heard of this hymn but I really love it!

  • Such a lovely post, total remainder not to ask whats been done for us but what we can do for others

  • Fiona Simmonds

    Oh, what a lovely idea to ask your daughter that question each night! I think it’s wonderful that you are bringing her up with those values.

  • Fiona Simmonds

    Good point! It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and problems, isn’t it?

  • Fiona Simmonds

    Exactly. Your words remind me of John F. Kennedy’s famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

  • Thank you, Tabitha. I only discovered this hymn recently myself. The words are lovely, aren’t they?

  • Yes, and there are so many ways that we can bring that light into the world, often without spending our money or even much time. The opportunities are around us every day. Even a friendly smile or kind word may be enough to make somebody’s day.

  • Sometimes, there are ideas/concepts that do not need to have a whole paragraph dedicated to express what it means. Sometimes, it can be one sentence, or in this case, one question. “Have I done any good in the world today?” And so I thought about it. What have I done today, have I done at least one thing for other people? Such as powerful question, indeed. Honestly, I can say yes to today. I hope to continue to do so, tomorrow and the day after. While I could answer yes, I thought I could have done more too.

  • For me being what you did good is one of the best things you did for the world is that you have a self discipline at all times and be humble enough towards others.

  • Carola

    I totally agree! It’s a good thing to think about this every day. And try to do good wherever we can. It’s so important. And it will make the world a bit better!

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