"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, "Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well" - but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless." James 2:14-17 (NLT)
While in a Missions class during my days in Bible college, the topic came up about what was most important when approaching people in need with the Gospel. If we were there to teach about Jesus, was it adequate to just share the scriptures and pray with them? I will always remember the professor's reply which was, "If they are hungry and you give them nothing to eat, will they even listen to you?" In other words, he was saying to take care of the most pressing need and in so doing you are modeling what Jesus would do. Then, when you speak about the love of the Lord, it will be more real to them.
I recently had a conversation with someone about this very thing concerning someone that we both knew. The person we were discussing had a real need and also knew that we both were Christians. Our viewpoints on how to help were vastly different. I wanted to help with the physical need while the person with me felt that it wasn't our responsibility. I asked the question, "What would Jesus do?" The response? "I'm not Jesus."
I have been thinking of this ever since that conversation. It's true that we aren't Jesus, however, when we received Him as our Savior and Lord, didn't we make a decision to live our lives for Him and to honor Him in all we do? Is He honored when we turn our backs if someone in need crosses our path? We may not be able to do much, but does that mean that we should do nothing? I may not be able to supply a five course meal to a hungry person, but a sandwich may be doable and it may very well open the door for me to be able to share the Gospel as well.
I have a dear friend who seems to be very in tune to the emotional needs of those she knows and loves. She doesn't hesitate to reach out to see if there is anything she can do to help. She calls, she writes, she encourages, she loves. Her faith bubbles over and she pours the excess into prayer and action. It is incredible to witness! She is the perfect example of someone who pairs faith with works and because of that everyone she touches knows she is sincere. The example she sets is one I aspire to.
I remember the story of a man walking on the beach and seeing a young man picking up starfish and throwing them back into the sea. He told that young man that he might as well give up because there was no way he could save them all. The reply was, "No. But I saved that one."
Folks, individually we may not be able to save the world but if we are all combining our faith with good works and loving as Jesus loves, a lot of lives can be transformed for eternity. God bless.