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O the Things We May Do

There is a wonderful message in the old hymn entitled “O the Things We May Do.”  The verses of this song are phrased in the form of questions.  The essential question asked by these verses is this: Are we lovingly helping other souls to cope with this life?  The chorus asserts that we can help others if we will make the effort, thus putting the impetus on us to be diligent about loving others.  The closing line of the chorus expresses how every effort we make in service of God and others will be rewarded:

Just a word or a song as we’re passing along,

They will count in the great by and by.

The message of this song is according to the words of our Lord Jesus.  In Matthew 25, when Jesus spoke of the judgment of the nations and the separation of the “sheep from the goats,” He showed that one criterion for our judgment and separation will be whether we have offered kindness toward Him.  He said, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me” (Matt. 25:35-36).  In His illustration, when the righteous asked when they had done these things, the Lord said, “'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40).  By this, we see how Christ is personally affected by kindly deeds and mercy shown toward His brethren, who are the children of God.  To help a brother in need is to help the Lord Himself.  This truth is likewise stated in Proverbs 19:17 – “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.”

This is a wonderful message because it expresses the simplicity of life in Christ.  We do not have to perform spectacular feats to please God, but rather we must simply do what is right, good, and kind in God’s sight.  These are “things we may do,” meaning that God has placed righteousness, goodness, and kindness within our power to achieve.  Paul stated the matter plainly in Galatians 6:10 – “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”  Micah also expressed it clearly when he wrote, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8)

Let us realize that the small things matter.  Not everyone has the ability to preach like Peter, the chance to save someone’s life, the financial means to rescue someone from bankruptcy, or some other great ability, opportunity, or resource to help others.  Nevertheless, everyone can do the small acts of kindness that help the brethren and glorify God.  Notice that when Jesus spoke to His apostles about others who would receive them, He said, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42).  Even such a small deed as giving a cup of cold water matters to the Lord.

Even though small acts of kindness and love may seem insignificant to us, the Lord has promised that they will be richly rewarded.  Again, notice Galatians 6, where in verse 9 Paul wrote, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”  Indeed, in every passage of Scripture that we have noticed, God has promised to remember and reward those who perform such deeds of mercy in His name.  Such “things we may do” may cause us temporary inconvenience at present, but they will pay rich dividends for eternity.  To this point and to the meaning of the song, let us heed the word of God through Paul: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1Cor. 15:58).

Stacey E. Durham




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