I’ve been thinking today, of a favorite hymn. I like it partly because of its upbeat melody, and partly because of its message. This song provides an interesting way to look at a disciple’s role in service and helping our fellow man. I appreciate its straightforward reminders of the things that matter most, reminders of how to obtain these goals, and the cheerful manner in which the message is delivered. Service doesn’t seem like such drudgery, but a privilege and a joy.
1. Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
2. There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
’Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love’s labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
Text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1847–1909, alt.
These thoughts offer important introspections into the kind of life we want to lead. At the beginning and end of each day, are we asking God where our hands and hearts are most needed, or did we leave something undone that He had in mind for us?
The thing I find most comforting about this song’s message is the promise that any effort, any work we give in the name of Christ is acceptable and pleasing to God. That’s really all He asks of us—be willing to go and do, placing our confidence in the Lord, not in our own abilities.
There is a set of scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants that reiterates this promise.
8 Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.
10 Behold, thou hast a gift, or thou shalt have a gift if thou wilt desire of me in faith, with an honest heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ, or in my power which speaketh unto thee;
11 For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.
12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; (Doctrine and Covenants 11:8-13)
That’s a beautiful message. God promises that if we are willing, and desire to serve, we will be given the gifts most needed to bless and help the lives of others. It really is a matter of doing what He wants us to, in finding the places His Spirit leads us, in judiciously deciding what is most needed, then turning our hands, actions and lives over to Him to fulfill His promises. Jesus Christ, and our faith in Him, can make up for our inadequacies and doubts if we are willing to go and do something good.
Here’s another reminder from the Bible:
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:17-27)
Want to fill your life with more light, peace, and of the Savior’s love? Then don’t be afraid to ask, and ask often, “Have I done any good in the world today?”