In 1982, author Anne Herbert wrote a book titled, Random Acts of Kindness. The title was a phrase coined by her to counteract a then-popular phrase, “random acts of violence.” Ever since then, we are often encouraged practice these “random acts of kindness.”

I certainly agree that we should practice kindness in our everyday lives. However, to say that kindness is something done randomly misses the mark. Kindness isn’t random, any more than evil is random. Kindness and evil are both character traits we consciously pursue. 

William George Jordan said, “Man does not drift into goodness… the chance port of an aimless voyage. He must fight ever for his destination.” 

He reminds us that character never happens by chance, only by choice. At some point, we decide to do the right thing, we decide to become a certain kind of person. And every component of our character – goodness, faithfulness, compassion, nobility, love, integrity – results from choices we make and actions we take.

In other words, decide if you want to be good, or decide if you want to be bad. But don’t blame your circumstances or your peers or your parents or your teachers or your church or your stars. And don’t say that you just randomly did something. The choice was yours all along.

There’s a certain irony to all of this. What if you choose not to choose? What if you just don’t want to decide? The irony is that by not choosing, you’ve already chosen. If you don’t want to be good, in essence, you’ve chosen to be bad. Or at least you’ve chosen to be indifferent toward the good. Maybe not as bad as you could be. Maybe not pure evil, like Hitler. But by not choosing the good, you’ve settled for something less than good.

All of this has a biblical basis. The writer of the book of Hebrews, uses the same metaphor of drifting” when he says, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (Hebrews 2.1). 

Aimless drifting isn’t idyllic, it’s dangerous. It’s the shortest route to moral shipwreck.