• David Osteen

The Parable of "The Thought That Counts"

There was a young man in a small rural town who was dying. There was only one thing that would save him - a blood transfusion. He needed it urgently. That day. The only problem was that there was no blood at the blood bank because of a recent emergency that had wiped out the supply. A call went out to friends and family and the community for anyone who could donate blood to save this young man.

Many simply ignored the call. There was nothing they could do, or nothing they would do.

Others thought about going to donate blood but they were just so busy. Surely there were others who could help. “It’s the thought that counts” is what comforted them.

Some called in and said they would love to, but that they were afraid of needles. “It’s the thought that counts” is what comforted them.

Others called in and said that they wanted to, but that they were not AB-Positive so they could not donate blood. When being informed that AB-Positive was a universal blood recipient type, one-by-one they made other excuses for why they couldn’t donate. “It’s the thought that counts” is what comforted them.

A few went to the blood bank to get the blood draw done, but upon arriving, realized there wasn’t enough time for them to give blood, and so they left. “It’s the thought that counts” is what comforted them.

One man showed up. A man who did not know the young man, but saw the news report and wanted to help. Time was running out. The only problem was, this man was short on blood to give. He had already given to others during the emergency and so he was dangerously low himself. The doctors would not take the blood from the man for fear of him losing his own life. The man said, “I came here to save this young man’s life. Even if it costs me my own. I’ll sign whatever waiver you need me to sign. I’ll do whatever I need to do. But I’m not leaving until I save this boy’s life.” The doctors honored the man’s request. The stranger saved the young man’s life. He saved it... at the cost of his own.

Some, later heard the news that the young man had survived. They said, “Oh. I had meant to do that and got sidetracked and forgot. I’m glad somebody else could help. It’s the thought that counts”……. is what they comforted themselves with.


Which of these people truly had the thought that counted?

I want to be clear. Crystal clear. There is nothing inherently wrong with the phrase “It’s the thought that counts.” There are sayings we have in society that we use to comfort our choices and decisions - action/inaction (like, “I’m only human”, “Everything happens for a reason”, “Just follow your heart”, etc.) But let’s also be clear, none of these phrases (“It’s the thought that counts” included) are bible teachings. It is better to have the heart to think in someone; their needs, how you can help, your desire to help, than it is to not think in them at all. But it is better still to be a person of action. It’s the action that counts.

This is what the Holy Spirit teaches us as Christians to be:

“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”(James 1:21-22)…”Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”(James 1:27) What is pure Christianity? Just thinking about being pure? Just thinking about serving others?

When brethren in Jerusalem were in need because of famine did the Holy Spirit commend the brethren at Corinth for simply having the desire to help their brethren in need? “And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it…”(2 Corinthians 8:10-11) It’s the action that counts. When it comes to service and helping others in need, the thought is only as good (beneficial/profitable) as the action.

“By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him;”(1 John 3:16-19) Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t just think about loving us? Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t just think about dying for us? Where would mankind be, where would YOU be, if Jesus had just thought about saving us and said to Himself, “Well, it’s the thought that counts”?

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14) May we not just be a people zealous for great, kind, loving thoughts, but for the deeds that should accompany them as well.

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