What good is it to do good? Norman Cousins, editor of The Saturday Review of Literature, explained the shock people from developed countries often feel when they see how those in poorer parts of the world are living. They step off an airplane and see widespread poverty and starvation. They might think, “Why struggle to keep a baby alive who has nothing to look forward to but sickness and hunger? Why hold medical clinics in the Philippines when there are thousands in the country who will never get help? With so many hurting, needy people in the world, it seems like we will never make an immediate impact. Is it worth it at all?”

Cousins admitted that many efforts we make to help improve the living conditions of others around the world will not have the results we want to see; but he added, “But that is no excuse. To help put meaning into a single life is the best kind of individual responsibility.”

While we want to help put meaning into the lives of others through humanitarianism, unless we share the gospel with them, they will still die and spend eternity in Hell. As we work to meet the needs of others, we have to remember why we let our lights shine:]that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16b) God is glorified when we use our good works to preach the gospel. We may not be able to feed every starving person, but those we do feed should at least hear about the Bread of Life.

I hope you’re not just doing good for the sake of doing good. Every coin you place in a Salvation Army bucket, every donation to Goodwill, every friendly conversation with your neighbors, every kind gesture you show towards people when you are at the shopping mall, every dollar you hand to a homeless person should point them to Jesus Christ. Use these opportunities to hand them a tract — or even better yet, explain the gospel to them. Even if you can’t reach everyone, you can reach someone. This is worth it all.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder