Wednesday of this week was a busy day, and I really didn’t think I had the time to deal with the situation at hand. I had been “rushed” all day long, and I still had work to do before I’d be ready for two more meetings.
Even if I took the time, money was going to be an i$$ue. The church had already helped several people, and when this happens money can do an abrupt disappearing act.
So what do you say when you hear a trouble voice on the other end of the phone say: “I have no money. I have no food. I have no place to sleep tonight. If you could help me with a place to stay for just tonight, I’d really be grateful.”
The funds were low, my preparation time was almost gone, and I was ready to say: “My heart goes out to you, but due to limited resources we just can’t help you now.” In fact, I did say it. Then I quickly said: “Go ahead and come to my office. I’ll figure out some way to take care of the bill.”
I did more than pay for a night in a hotel, I also arranged for her to get food for supper; but, what meant the most to her was that I listened to her as she told her story. She was then willing to listen to me as I told the story of God’s love for her.
Now here is the reason I couldn’t deny her request: While I was listening to her with my left ear, I was hearing the words of James in my right ear: “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense (James 2:14-17)?”
“God bless you” to this woman would have been God-talk without God-acts, and it would have been nonsense—I’m glad James whispered in my ear.