Sent: May 2, 2002
Subject: Where’s the Deeds?
Dear Ethan & Emily:
One of the most popular TV commercials of all time was the Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” ads. This ad became infamous for three simple words shouted out by a “little old lady” named Clara Peller who was in her 80’s when the commercial was made. In the commercial, Clara is standing at a fast food counter (obviously not Wendy’s) along with her friends Mildred Land and Elizabeth Shaw, all staring at a tiny hamburger meat patty on a huge bun. Suddenly, Clara bellows in her trademark foghorn sounding voice: “Where’s the beef?” and the rest is advertising history. Wendy’s credited the ad with boosting sales 31% and profits 24% in 1984 when the ad first appeared, and the commercial has been listed in USA Today’s TV Commercial Hall of Fame as one of the best TV commercials ever produced.
I was reminded of this famous commercial recently while reading the book of James in the New Testament. Like Clara, when we tell the world that we are Christians, God looks at our lives as well as our hearts and asks…not “Where’s the beef?”…but “Where’s the deeds?”
James presented this very clearly in his letter to the 1st century Christians: “Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone…So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all…it is dead and useless.” (James 2:14-19)
And then follows the shocking statement: “Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?”
So, as important as belief is…the belief that saves is belief that shows itself in our behavior.
Clara last appeared in a Wendy’s commercial later in 1984 and she died in 1987, soon after achieving worldwide fame. But God still stands at the “counter” of life and is asking us today: “Where’s the deeds?”
So let us take heed and “make the most of every opportunity (redeeming the time) for doing good…” (Eph. 5:16NLT). In fact, let every hamburger we eat be a spiritual experience…as it reminds us to “live out” our faith!
Have a great day. See you at Wendy’s for lunch…
All my love,