February 25, 2018
Pray or dig sweet potatoes?
“Go in peace.” James heard his brother Jesus say that many times. Each time Jesus had met the need of someone who asked him for help. After meeting the need, Jesus asked each one to depart in peace.
After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the young Christian church began to grow. James was one of its leaders. Sometimes James heard a brother or sister say “Go in peace” to someone who was hungry or in need of clothes. James realized that words are a poor substitute for food when a person is hungry, or clothes when one is naked. So in his letter to other believers, James said, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
Kind words are nice. It hurts to be shunned when you swallow your pride and ask for help. But if help is not provided by those who are able to help, then kind words become hollow and repulsive. No one ever said it more plainly than James: “Faith without works is dead.”
When a family’s home burned the pastor called his people together to pray. The family had lost everything and now had no food. Noticing that one lad’s father had not come with his family to pray, the pastor asked the boy why his dad had not come to the prayer meeting. The boy replied, “Dad said that while we were praying, he would go dig some sweet potatoes to share with the family.”
Is it better to pray or dig sweet potatoes? No need to argue the point. You know the answer. To do nothing but pray for the hungry, when we have sweet potatoes we could share, is to make a travesty of the commandment to love one another. Such prayers will smell like the fresh scent of a skunk in the nostrils of God. Creeds without deeds of love are worthless seeds that can never produce a harvest pleasing to God.
True Christians will dig sweet potatoes for the hungry and then offer prayers of gratitude to God for the grace to demonstrate faith in deeds of love. So grab a shovel and start digging.
Go in peace. + + +