Just as Salvation Army Founder General William Booth challenged his own son, we too can be challenged to never tire of doing something for others.
General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was brushing his mane-like white hair when his son Bramwell stepped into the room. “Bramwell!” he cried. “Did you know that men sleep out all night on the bridges?” “Well, yes,” the son replied. “A lot of poor fellows I suppose do that.” “Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself to have known it and to have done nothing for them!” his father retorted.
And when the son began to talk about the Poor Law program, General Booth waved a hand and said, “Go and do something! We must do something!” “What can we do?” “Get them a shelter!” “That will cost money,” replied Bramwell. “Well, that is your affair. Something must be done. Get hold of a warehouse and warm it, and find something to cover them. But mind, Bramwell, no coddling!” That was the beginning of Salvation Army shelters.
–W. Wiersbe, “The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers”
Do something. This is an interesting command from General William Booth to his son. It was almost as if Bramwell had not been doing something, but at its core was a challenge to never tire of doing something for others.
In James 2:14-26, we are challenged to show our faith through our works. James argued that stagnant, theoretical faith is not enough. Please note: James is not advocating that works lead to salvation. Works do not save us. Works prove we are saved. He wrote that real faith is supported by corresponding works. Good deeds are not the root of salvation, but they are the fruit of genuine salvation.
Saved humanity reciprocates by serving God and others. In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:17).
We could argue that faith without works is incomplete, empty and irrelevant. Such faith is incapable of challenging others to transformation. James challenged all Christians to get rid of their laurels, stop warming the pews and get busy for the Lord.
Actions speak louder than words. Actions reveal whose you are, and in whom you have believed. James noted, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead (2:26). Actions give flight to the faith we proclaim. Serving others injects life into our religion. Doing something for others lends authenticity to our faith. Good works unlock closed doors and soften hardened hearts.
There is a time for prayer, Bible Study, fasting and worship. But there is also a time for action. People’s physical and material needs necessitate prayer and action. I fear that we sometimes say, “I will pray for you,” as an excuse to avoid meeting the physical needs of others. It is not enough to quote Scripture and throw prayers to people who are facing real physical problems. Talk is cheap. Faith remains purely academic and theoretical until it is put into action.
Faith is not just to be cherished and hidden in the deepest parts of the soul. Faith must ooze out of our pores, showing itself in vigorous and dynamic works. Faith is not to be buried under the soil. It must be allowed to break forth, germinate, sprouting out of the soil to reveal its actions.
Many people in the world and in our communities are hurting. Families are struggling. The hungry, the hurting, the hopeless and the helpless seek our assistance. How do we respond?
What can you do?
- Go through your kitchen cabinets and donate the food that sits uneaten. Buy two cans of food when you would usually buy one, and donate the second can.
- Purge and donate the clothes and shoes in your closets.
- Give money to our social services and food bank.
- Volunteer your time at the food bank.
- Tutor children in the after-school program.
- Create care packages for those experiencing homelessness and hand them out as you drive around town.
- Serve in the corps as a youth leader, Sunday School teacher, janitor or to fulfill any other need you see.
- Join Community Care Ministries and visit nursing homes. Read books and the Bible to people you meet there.
- Visit patients in hospitals. Read books to children in the children’s hospital.
- Be a foster parent or adopt a child.
- Go on a mission trip locally or overseas. Do ministry in urban areas.
- Invite a lonely person to your home for dinner.
As William Booth once said:
“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight;
while children go hungry, as they do now I’ll fight;
while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight;
while there is a drunkard left,
while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets,
while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight,
I’ll fight to the very end!”
What will you do?
Do something today.