Altar Call – Opelika – Auburn News

Walter Albritton

September 7, 2014


Do all the good you can


        I have been a Methodist all my life. And all my life I have treasured this quotation from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism:

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

        Imagine my surprise to learn recently that John Wesley did not say that. One of our respected Wesleyan scholars insists that you cannot find that statement anywhere in Wesley’s writings.

        I will take the good scholar’s word for that. But though the statement may have been erroneously attributed to Wesley, it is still an excellent piece of advice – especially for those who follow Jesus. 

When we truly belong to Jesus, we do our best to follow the example of our Lord. And the Bible says Jesus “went about doing good.”

Instead of looking out for their own interests, Christ followers will constantly look for people they can help – physically, emotionally or spiritually. Sometimes the help people need is a listening ear and a caring heart. Sometimes it is a word of encouragement. At other times it may be a month’s rent when a person on a fixed income has been overwhelmed by medical expenses.

Saint Paul understood that you can become weary serving others. Even the noblest Christians can become exhausted in “doing good.” However, Paul has no sympathy for us. His remedy when we are tempted by weariness: resist it! Refuse to be discouraged!  “Do not grow weary in doing what is right”! He reminds us that there is a reward for faithfulness: if we do not give up, we shall reap a harvest because God is faithful!

Ultimately there are only two ways to live. One is the way of the flesh that leads to death. The other is the way of the Spirit that leads to life. One is the way of selfishness, the other the way of love. In the end, love wins. Schuyler Colfax, Vice-Present under President Grant, understood this:

“Man derives his greatest happiness not by that which he does for himself, but by what he accomplishes for others. This is a sad world at best – a world of sorrow, of suffering, of injustice, and falsification. Men stab those whom they hate with the stiletto of slander. But it is for the followers of our Lord to improve it, and to make it more as Christ would have it. The most precious crown of fame that a human being can ask is to kneel at the bar of God and hear the beautiful words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” He was right.

The words on an old plaque in an antique store say it all: “Only one life, twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I reckon trying to live like Jesus lived is about the best way to live. Though it is impossible to do it perfectly, we can try. And when we make the effort unseen hands will help us. + + +