A well-known story tells of a man who was walking along a beach at sunset and noticed a young boy in the distance who kept bending down, picking something up, and throwing it into the water.

As the man approached, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and was throwing them back into the water. The man asked the boy what he was doing.

“I’m throwing these starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die here on the beach.”

“But there are thousands on this beach, and this is happening on beaches all around the world. You can’t possibly make a difference.”

The boy smiled, bent down, and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied: “I made a difference to that one.”

The world has so many problems that are bigger than we can fathom, and it’s easy to have an overwhelming feeling that our tiny stone dropped in the ocean of chaos will make no difference at all. But everything we do has a ripple effect on the lives of the people we cross paths with, as well as the lives of those they will cross paths with.

The good news is, it’s not as complicated as we may think. It all comes down to one simple rule, the “Law of Love,” which Jesus expressed as loving God foremost and treating others the way we want to be treated.1

If we measure our actions in terms of righting all the world’s wrongs, it is an overwhelming, impossible task. But when we put Jesus’ teaching into simple everyday terms and take it one decision, one action, one conversation, one loving gesture at a time, it suddenly is not so hard.

  1. See Matthew 22:37–40; 7:12.