What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to go to El Salvador to set up a medical clinic for a week. The team of thirty three Americans consisted of dentists, doctors, nurses, and non-medical assistants (like me). In just 5 days, we were able to see over 1,500 people come through the clinic and several hundred come to faith in the Lord. Along with the spiritual miracles, there were also several physical miracles. It was truly a time of communion and fellowship as we worked with a local organization who promised to follow-up on the people who made professions of faith. Everyone on the team came away from the trip changed and challenged to lead a different life once we arrived home. For me, however, as I came away from the trip, something dramatic had been revealed to me. I knew I would never be the same.
As the days passed, we grew more and more attached to the local people, especially the children. Their incredible brown eyes seemed to swallow me up as I stared into them. Every day, the women would come with aprons full of mangoes, the only thing they had to offer in exchange for our medical services. Though we were all sick of them by the middle of the week, we would never have refused them because of the joy they found in giving them to us. The men, though proud and silent, showed us with their eyes how much they appreciated what we were doing. Most of the people we saw would never go to a doctor in their life. In fact, most of the things that were treated were simple problems with simple solutions but, for the lack of medical attention, would cause lifelong pain.
One gentleman came to the doctors for pain in his feet. After close examination of both feet, they could find nothing medically wrong with them. All of the bones and muscles seemed to be in order and there didn’t appear to be any inflammation or infection. The team began to question him about the pain and his lifestyle. It turned out that the man did not own a pair of shoes! He worked the fields all day barefoot and the pain was becoming unbearable. One of the members of our team had brought extra tennis shoes that she didn’t use and she decided to give them to him. He tried them on and his face lit up as if heaven had opened. He began rambling on and on in Spanish about his new shoes. They were a perfect fit! Not only that, he didn’t have to work in pain.
As we fell in love with the people and our fellow believers, the reality of the grace of God and my responsibility became increasingly clear to me. I realized that it was only by the grace of God that I have a home and a warm bed to sleep in. My fellow believers in El Salvador and around the world are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Why did this gentleman have to work the fields barefoot while I can not decide which shoes go best with my outfit for the day? I realized then that with blessings come responsibility. We have been given much so we are expected to give much. While we will never meet every need, we are to do as much as we can with as much as we have. It is our duty and our responsibility.
Today, I challenge you to look outside of the box you live in and I dare you to give. Give clothing to the needy, give food to the hungry, give shelter to the homeless. Turn on the news and look at the turmoil in the world. Look out your window as you drive home from school or work and try to find the need in the neighborhoods you drive through. Then pray for God to show you how and what to give.