They ambled through our church doors one Sunday evening. I knew what they wanted before they ever opened their mouths, but they were clever enough not to ask on the first visit.
The church I pastored was located in a rural town just off a major interstate, making it a prime target for scammers. But this father and son duo weren’t transients. They were locals who had moved from a neighboring town and were now living in a residence they were having trouble paying for. They didn’t want money, just food. So we and a neighboring church helped them. The pastor from the other church even gave them rides between towns, went to court with the son, and went far beyond his “call to duty.” We could have simply said, “We’ll pray for you” and sent them on their way. But then again, that would have been a poor representation of our faith.
Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye 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? (James 2:15-16 NLT)
Allowing my faith to transform my conduct is tricky business. What if I give someone money only to have them spend it on a habit or foolish endeavor. I’ve done that. But suppose I merely tell them I’ll pray for them and then shift the responsibility for helping to another organization. I’ve done that too.
Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle. No action is certainly wrong, but giving ignorantly is also unwise. Asking God for wisdom for whom and how I help is always sensible. This may include investigating the individual’s story. I’ve done that as well. At the same time, I’m responsible for more than a quick prayer. That does nothing to soothe their immediate need and becomes in their ears mere empty words.
How are you putting your faith into action?
Prayer: Encourage us, dear Lord, to put our faith into practice even as You acted in our behalf.