Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
July 12, 2020
Faith Without Deeds of Love is Useless
In these pandemic days of protests, tension and turmoil, there is a lot of talk. The media have filled the airwaves and newspapers with so much talk that many of us are weary of “listening to the news.” I have done my share of adding to the mountain of rhetoric that the coronavirus and racism have spawned.
All this talk caused me to recall what the biblical writer James has to say about faith and deeds. Granted, there are some passages in the Bible that are difficult to understand. But the Book of James is an exception. Here is an example of how James wrote with such clarity that no one can miss his meaning:
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
Neither talk nor faith will feed a person who is hungry. As the nationwide debate about what “to do” continues in the street and in Congress, we need to remember that many of our neighbors are hungry and many others are living in fear. We dare not forget these neighbors while we argue endlessly about solutions to our problems.
A picture of two women delivering cakes to firemen got me to thinking about the good people who are serving others while some of us write and talk about issues. I did not recognize the women at first; they had facemasks on. Then I saw their names and smiled for they are dear friends of mine, Martha Hill and Jennifer Jones.
When I asked why they were giving cakes to the firemen, Martha said, “We actually began with the Opelika Police Department. We heard the morale of the Police Department was low because of recent hostility toward the police so we got Kelly Cox to bake several large pound cakes. We delivered the cakes to the police with a note of appreciation from our church (Trinity Methodist).”
Sharing cakes with the police got Martha thinking about the firemen. Finding out there are 75 firemen, she quickly raised $525 from several women in her church. This was enough to get Kelly Cox to make 75 cakes which Martha and Jennifer delivered to the firemen.
I had to ask, who is Kelly Cox? It turns out Kelly has a cottage baking business in Opelika named Honeycomb Sweets. She got the name for her business from a Bible verse, Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” You will love this: Kelly’s specialty, the cakes she baked for the firemen, are called “kindness cakes.” (You can reach Kelly on Instagram or Facebook or by calling 334-524-4815.)
Kelly not only loves to bake; she also enjoys sharing as well as selling her cakes. Last week she baked a bunch of cakes and delivered them to people in her neighborhood. “The world felt so dark that I decided to make some happy tummies,” she said. “Braxton (her husband) and I delivered cakes, leaving some on doorsteps. We knocked on doors and said, ‘Have a good day.’ It’s a ministry to make people happy. It’s not about the food, it’s about sharing a little sweetness.”
After sharing kindness cakes with over 100 police and fire personnel, Martha decided to deliver even more cakes to her friends at the Post Office. Why? “Well,” Martha replied, “during the lonely winter days I would sometimes go to the Post Office just to be around my friends there and have them lift my spirit.”
Martha is only 84. She copes with the sorrow of losing her husband Hoyt four years ago by offering kindness to the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for the people of her community. James would say, “Way to go, Martha; you show me your faith by what you do!” Martha tells me there are many others in her church offering kindness to others in a ministry called “Feeding God’s Children.” Hundreds of meals are being provided to children and others in the community who need food.
Martha also shares in a project in her neighborhood to show appreciation to the Sanitation Department workers. “We found out that the same four men regularly serve us by picking up garbage, trash and recycle items. So we collected homemade and store-bought goodies which we shared to show our appreciation for them,” Martha said. “We even gave a gift card and some gifts to our mail carrier!”
In Montgomery, Mercy House is showing mercy to hundreds of people in an impoverished neighborhood of west Montgomery. A ministry of New Walk of Life Church on Council Street, Mercy House serves 100 hot meals a day to hungry people; in addition, 200 snack bags given out every day. Every week 70 families are given enough food to feed a family of five for a week. Pastor Ken Austin says, “We can do this only because of the generous support of caring people in the River Region.”
Youth of the church are awarded money for A’s and B’s on their report cards. Pastor Austin tells me that during the night following busy fourth of July activities, he had the “honor” of getting out of bed and delivering food to a family that called and said, “Pastor, we don’t have anything to eat.”
The deeds described above are only a few of the many expressions of love which are going on all around us, for there are many good Americans whose faith is not dead and useless. We dare not focus so much on the “bad news” that we miss seeing the good deeds of our fellow Americans, deeds that can inspire us to practice good deeds ourselves.
Opinions matter. Words are important. But James would remind us, in the heat of the ugly debate going on in our nation, words without action, without deeds, are useless. Words will not warm a man who needs a coat. Words will not quiet the growling of a hungry man’s stomach.
For many years I have sung a fine hymn in worship with others that our friend James would enjoy singing with us. The song, “Lead On, O King Eternal,” includes this verse: “Lead on, O King eternal, till sin’s fierce war shall cease, and holiness shall whisper the sweet amen of peace. For not with swords loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums; with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.” That final phrase is bold-faced in my memory box for it says it all.
The talk with continue until all our stammering tongues lie silent in the grave. In the meantime, genuine faith will reveal itself in deeds of love and mercy for faith without deeds of love is useless. + + +