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Monday, December 31, 2018

Hard Questions – Have You Done What You Could?

This was first posted here six years ago. As I was thinking about what to post for the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 I wondered about something new or reposting something from the past. Among the old posts that I considered for revisiting, this one eventually stood out as a good one for the turning of the year. I needed the reminder as much as anyone!


Dec. 8, 2012

I was going through some of my photos when I came across  a couple pictures that made me think – again.

My husband and I were walking on a riverside walkway in North Carolina with some of his family the day we found these notes. I was touched and blessed to see that some child with a zeal for lost souls had put these notes (at least one had a tract with it also) on benches along the walk. The printing was not perfect, the syntax was not perfect, but the spirit of the thing – how precious it must be in God’s sight! Whoever this young boy or girl was, they were using what skill they had to do what they could for the Lord Jesus.

Do you remember this story from the Bible? Mark 14:3-9  And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.  And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

I sometimes get frustrated about the energy and concern that I see Christians put into things like rescuing dogs and cats, fighting genetically modified foods, “saving” America, supporting “our” troops, and righting numerous great wrongs in the world. It isn’t because there isn’t a point to some of these needs, because there is. For example, we are reminded to “remember the poor” in Galatians 2:10.  And, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast…,” Proverbs 12:10. But, sometimes all these earthly good deeds are pursued at the expense of the heavenly good deeds – glorifying the Lord Jesus and rescuing precious souls from eternal damnation.

What good does it do to rescue a child from abortion or a girl from a slave brothel and then not give them the Gospel of Jesus Christ? (That one qualifies as a hard question!) What good is it if we give to the poor and take care of hurt animals but don’t spend time worshiping the Lord Jesus Himself? (And, I don’t mean just “going to church.” Too many people think that warming a pew for a couple hours a week qualifies as doing what they “should” for God.)

1 Corinthians 13:3 says,  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. This is another consideration. Charity is an ability all believers can and should cultivate.

I know some of us sometimes we feel like we don’t have a lot to work with. Maybe you are “stuck” at home for days on end. Maybe you struggle with some physical or emotional disability that makes it hard for you to do what others do. Maybe you feel like your skills are small. Maybe you are financially limited for one reason or another. But, what are you doing with what you have that you can use?

Look at this video of these people who live on a landfill - a garbage dump. [I have no control over advertisements or recommended videos shown.]

Most of us are not in this position I’d dare say! Yet, see what amazing musical instruments these people have created from other people’s garbage! Think about how they are turning the off cast rubbish of others into beautiful music which is in itself a form of giving back.

Do you really and truly have nothing to work with for the Lord? I don’t think any of us could honestly say that. I know I fail often to use the tools that I could as efficiently as I could or as wisely as I could. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Martha Snell Nickolson who was bed ridden and wracked with pain for years wrote this:

How handicapped, how bound are we
When Christ was bound on Calvary?
He could not move a hand nor foot,
And He was wracked with anguish, but
He gave Himself to earnest prayer
For those whose weight of sins He bare.
"Father, forgive, they know not what they do."
O child of God, say not,
"I am too handicapped, too bound,
Too busy, and I have not found
A service I can do for Him."
O Shame! Let us, with eyes grown dim,
Look back to Calvary.
Bound helpless there,
The suffering Saviour gave himself to prayer!
At the very least, we can pray. Or is that “the least”? James 5:16  …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

It is easy to imagine that our small contribution in the work of the Lord is not much and not worth a lot in the big picture. But, one of the great things about our God is that nothing is too small with Him. Consider the attention He gave to the construction of snowflakes, of DNA, of atoms, and more. We should not think that what we have to offer in His service is too small or useless. He has a purpose and use for every life that He sustains!

When the Lord appeared unto Moses in the burning bush to call Moses to go to the Hebrew people, Moses did not believe that the people would listen to him. 

Exodus 4:1-4  And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:

Moses’ rod was the tool of his occupation as a shepherd. It was not some special thing nor talent, it was a common everyday thing that he used to work. Yet, under the miraculous touch of the Lord God Almighty, it became something by which he could prove that the Lord had appeared unto him.

Now, I’m not anticipating having any of our common tools turn into snakes. :-) It’s the Jews that require a sign anyway, 1 Cor. 1:22.  But, what are the tools that we have – the common, everyday things that we use in our daily work – that could be used to the glory of God? With His enabling power not just the common things, but even the things humanly considered to be “trash” can be transformed into something for His glory.

One young lady I had the privilege to meet had almost nothing to use but her stunning smile, and yet she used that for the glory of God. (See Violet’s Story.)

Think of that child who used his/her “poor” writing skills, some paper, a pencil, a stick, and a rock for Jesus. Think of those folks who literally used the garbage and cast-off junk of others to make beautiful music. Perhaps it is a bed of anguish as with Martha Nicholson. Perhaps it is “just” a smile as with “Violet”. What are you using for the Lord? What are you overlooking as “too insignificant” to be any good? This is something that we all need to consider. One of the greatest things that ever could be said of us is that we did what we could!

1 Peter 4:10-11  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.


  1. Praise God for His gift of life and salvation! There is so much that each of us can do for His glory! That should be our focus and not ourselves. In all that we do...we are witnesses of the Lord Jesus and should use our time and effort in that. Trying to make our earth a better place will never lead people to Jesus and their need of the Saviour.
    Thank you for your encouragement!

    1. Thank you for commenting, Jennifer. Yes indeed.
      I'm glad you were encouraged. It encouraged me to read your comment. Hope you're staying warm and well. :-)