For months I have been praying for widows, the fatherless and the poor. We receive letters from destitute people who can no longer pay for insurance or afford housing. I’ve pleaded with God, “You are the Lord of hosts. Feed them. Meet their needs.” Finally, the Lord answered me, “You must do more than pray for them, David. You can do something about it. You feed them. It’s within your power to do.”

Make no mistake: no one can be saved by good works alone, but we will be judged by whether we did them. Yet the issue isn’t how many needy people I feed or clothe. The central issue is: “Do I profess Christ as my Lord, and then live only for myself? Do I misrepresent Jesus by hoarding and spending time accumulating things? Do I shut my eyes to the needs of the poor and helpless?”

Our witness to a sin-cursed world must include both preaching and manifestation, both Word and deed. Our proclamation of Christ can’t be divorced from our helping works. As James says, such works help to prove the power of the gospel.

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:14-16).

Multitudes of Christians respond to Jesus’ prophecy in two ways. There are those of the “easy gospel” who say, “God isn’t that hard. This is all doomsday preaching. My God is too loving to judge that severely.” Then, those of the “hard gospel” say, “This is just too strict, too demanding. I can’t accept such a disturbing word. I can never measure up to it.”

So both gospels go their own way, justified and unmoved. One group continues staging revivals for the unsaved. Others keep holding prayer meetings, asking God to meet the needs of the poor. At Christmastime, we distribute baskets to needy families, and at other times, we slip a few coins to beggars. But, tragically, little is done about having a full-time, hands-on commitment to do as Jesus has commanded.