In our world today we frequently hear the thoughts that ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch’ and ‘You never get something for nothing’. This is not the same when it comes to Living as a Christian. Paul the apostle wrote this in his letter to Christians in Rome in Romans 12: 9-16 (CEV) Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. Love each other as brothers and sisters and honour others more than you do yourself. Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home. Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. Be friendly with everyone.
One of the fundamental tenets of God’s kingdom is that we put the needs of others before ourselves. We seek out people who need help, even if they do not know they do, and as we interact with them we serve them in some way. How do we know who to serve? First and foremost we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, if we see God is at work in a particular person or project then we would do well to ask if we can help too. There are also in the gospels patterns we can see as Jesus teaches his disciples.
Who are the people who need help? They come in all shapes, sizes and disguises but there are a few categories where we may start.
There are the poor, people who are left on the fringes of society. It may not be just money they desire but friendship, acceptance into a family. They may need us to show them how much we value them before they realise their own true value.
There are the ‘strangers’. Again there are people who for whatever reason who find themselves in circumstances they are unfamiliar with. They may have come from a different town, a different country, or even a different continent. They may not be familiar with the way our systems work, how to get help, how to integrate into society, they may not speak English to be able to ask for help.
There are also people who are prisoners. Of course there is great need for rehabilitation after people have been through the criminal justice system, but there are other ways of being a prisoner. Addiction to alcohol, drugs, etc are obvious. Less obvious are addiction to celebrity, to designer fashion or to the latest gadgets on the market.
Another group of people are those who are sick. They may just need a lift to a medical
appointment, help to cope with chronic illness and the isolation it can bring. We can pray for healing for them, and they will experience God’s power at work in them.
All of these groups of people need help with their physical needs and this is a great place to start. As we meet their physical needs we can also be praying that we can meet their spiritual needs. We pray that the Holy Spirit would open an opportunity for us to pray with them. That their needs can be met not just naturally but supernaturally, that God will reveal himself to these people in such a way that they cannot deny his existence and want to know more.
Jesus himself said we should serve others, in Mark 9: 35-37 (CEV) After Jesus sat down and told the twelve disciples to gather around him, he said, “If you want the place of honour, you must become a slave and serve others!” Then Jesus had a child stand near him. He put his arm around the child and said, “When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me.” As we become God’s hands and feet and begin to serve other people we will begin to see God working in their lives.
So as we reach out to people we Begin with prayer.
We take time to Listen. We give them our time and attention .
As we Eat with them we demonstrate some of God’s character.
We can also demonstrate, as we Serve them, God’s ability to change their circumstances and bring healing.
Next week the last section in the ways we can BLESS people. *
*Bless: 5 Everyday Ways to Love Your Neighbor and Change the World by Dave & Jon Ferguson.