March 15, 2021 - The Impulse

A young man, full of zeal and idealism, began his first day’s work in a soup kitchen. He worked feverishly, feeding the hungry and homeless warm and filling breakfasts. Exhausted, he was filled with a sense of purpose, of accomplishment, of making a difference until just a few hours later, after the kitchen closed, he confronted the hordes standing at the door—hungry again!

Iris Chang, in The Rape of Nanking, wrote about a western journalist who found a badly wounded Chinese soldier dying on the sidewalk, his jaw shot away. The soldier held out his hand, which the journalist grasped, for what else could he do? “I just put a five-dollar bill in his hand,” the journalist wrote. “Which is utterly useless to him, of course, but anyway, somehow I felt the impulse to do something.”

Who, even the most humanitarian among us, hasn’t at time wondered, “What good does it do?” Because no matter how much good we do, it just doesn’t seem good enough, does it? The hungry, the poor, the refugees, the sick, the dying, the homeless—they keep coming and coming and coming, no matter how much we try to help them.

The Bible, however, never tells us that these evils are going to be solved here and now. It never tells us that we’re going to create a paradise on earth. Instead, we’re told this:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the LORD require of you

But to do justly,

To love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8).

Feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, handing money to an injured soldier—whatever the impulse to do good, to do justly, to love mercy, we’re called by God to do it. The Lord alone will solve the problems of the planet. We, in the meantime, do whatever good that we can until that day comes.

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