The mahātmās are always ready to render such service to the Lord with great determination. In this regard His Divine Grace Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura once made this comment in a lecture:
The neophyte Vaiṣṇava devotees' ringing the bell even once during worship of the Deity of the Supreme Lord is a million times more valuable, spiritually and otherwise, than the charitable fruitive workers building many hospitals, feeding thousands of the poor, or building homes, or even the empirical philosophers' Vedic studies, meditation, austerities, and penances.
The mahātmās have shown the perfect path of charity: devotional service to the Lord. If anyone ignores this path and instead builds hospitals, his effort to help humanity is a mere pretense. Humanity can never reap any permanent advantage from such activities. Indeed, the number of patients only increases along with the number of hospitals. And as for feeding the poor, this will never eradicate poverty, but encourage it. Frankly speaking, we are not against opening hospitals or feeding the poor, or any other such humanitarian service. But what we have learned from our beloved spiritual master is that when devotional service to the Lord is neglected, every other activity is illusory and futile. Without genuine devotional service, even opening hospitals and feeding the poor in the name of Lord Kṛṣṇa is futile. Spiritual groups that do not strictly follow in Lord Caitanya's line cannot comprehend this because they do not wish to abide by the instructions of the mahātmās. They do not follow Lord Caitanya's injunction to be "more humble than a blade of grass." If they were that humble, they would give up their pride in being the doer of good deeds, the wisest person, the most devoted, and so on.
Those who strive to emulate the mahātmās never fall prey to passivity and regression. Their eagerness and determination to serve the Lord steadily increase. Such followers observe spiritual occasions like Janmāṣṭamī and Ekādaśī for the pleasure of the Lord, in the way that the previous ācāryas and mahātmās have recommended. This is devotional service proper. Because the mahātmās are more humble than a blade of grass, they worship Lord Kṛṣṇa and everything in relation to Him. Atheists, however, exhibit a different mentality altogether: they want to flaunt their abilities and charitable disposition. They may pretend to serve Lord Kṛṣṇa, but their aim is "to sit on the Lord's head" once they attain perfection. In other words, they want to usurp His position. Therefore they do not really serve Lord Kṛṣṇa, nor is He their real object of worship. The mahātmās never associate with these demoniac people. They are fixed in their resolve to serve the Lord, and thus they always remain connected to Him through devotional service.