The American Heritage College Dictionary defines “deed” as “a praiseworthy act.” When Rosa Parks decided not to give up her bus seat, this act of defiance was clearly praiseworthy in that it defied the vile and evil system of segregation. Parents who join local school councils, participate on park advisory boards, or organize local block clubs are also performing an accomplishment of major significance.

In fact getting involved in any institution, program, or individual action designed to bring about social and individual change is part of the grand action plan for realization of an improvement vision for the entire human race.

But before action, there must be the thought or idea. Rosa Parks wanted to see the end of segregation. You may want to improve education for your child or simply clean up your block. Next is to recognize the existence of a greater power in the universe that you can lean on for assistance. Then one must have the courage to face the fears and opposition that surely will be ahead of you.

The action required of each person must proceed in a manner that is consistent with a goal that is higher than self, and it must also be praiseworthy. Pushing the television remote or drinking with the fellows is not sufficient. In fact, complaining to your neighbors and anyone else who may listen, will not absolve you from the responsibility of doing good to and for your fellow man.

In the book of James in the King James Version of the Bible at 2:14-26 it is written, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?” The dictionary defines “works” in part as the performance of moral acts. This phrase from James is a biblical mandate that each person create a resume of praiseworthy acts that will be a shining example for the world.

For some unknown reason, Austin residents seem to shy away from their obligation to serve the community and their neighbors. Every summer for the past five years the Austin Labor of Love has solicited volunteers and resources to repair homes for low-income Austin families. Each past year, Austin churches and their congregations were invited to participate. Yet most refused. Many other community improvement projects have also failed because of this same lack of participation by residents, church leaders, and their congregations.

James 2:15-16 further states if a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and you say nice things to them but fail to provide them with the things they need, then you are not living up to your mission in life. Too many Austin residents smile and say all of the right things but are slow to provide a helping hand to those in need. This inaction leads to a very important question. Why aren’t the churches, politicians and community groups assessing the needs of Austin residents and finding ways to persuade neighbors to engage in acts of collective service?

There are at least a hundred or more churches in Austin and thousands of church-goers. Yet there is little manifested in their collective and individual lives to show their belief in God. The praiseworthy act of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the young, visiting the sick and incarcerated should not just be platitudes that roll off the lips of ministers and their members on Sunday. These and other deeds should be the works by which each person may ultimately be judged.