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A Two-Hand Job

February 12, 2019

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17

My daughter loved to read as she was a pre-teen. She often walked through the house with a book in hand, brought it to the table with her, often curled up in a corner and read for hours. I was glad for that, but occasionally they were other things she needed to do. Sometimes I needed her help for a moment and would call her to come. She didn’t argue, but she would come to me, book still in hand, still reading. A common response from me was, “Put the book down, honey. This is a two-hand job.” She wasn’t completely unwilling to help. She just didn’t want her helping to interfere with what she already had going on. She didn’t want it to cost her anything or be inconvenient.

That’s essentially what James was telling his friends. This responsibility for loving others is a two-hand job. It doesn’t just involve prayer or encouraging words. We must pray, of course—but that’s not nearly enough. We must extend our hands in truly practical and necessary service.

Sometimes it’s easy to “throw money” at a situation that really needs personal investment and love. The unemployed man on the street corner needs prayers. He does need immediate food and shelter, but the only thing that will bring true help to him is personal investment from someone who will help him take steps in a new direction. Personal investment is what all our neighbors need. It’s inconvenient but rewarding.

  • Is there a needy neighbor in your life for whom you have been making the bare minimum investment? What might God be telling you to do now?
  • Make a plan, then do it.