Going Out of the Way to Stay Out of the Way
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink…. Then the righteous will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ….The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” – Matthew 25:35-40
Some of the most self-absorbed, self-centered, people I know are people that profess to be “Christians.” They are people that talk a good talk about showing the love of Christ to those in need, but their talk does not match their walk. Their words are empty, fruitless and cheap. The truth is, they simply do not want to be bothered with the needs of their fellow man. For them, people in need serve as a festering distraction from their personal agendas. This is evident because their actions reveal what is really in their heart. They see extending a helping hand as something that might take up too much of their precious time. They are people that “go out of the way” to “stay out of the way” of those in need.
I boldly question a person’s salvation if they fit the description above. Now I am certainly not suggesting that we earn salvation by our good works or by our own merit; for we are saved by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nor am I suggesting some sort of social gospel; for man’s spiritual need is far greater than any physical needs he might have. But with all of that said, a true believer will desire to reach out to others in physical distress. The genuine Christian will be so radically impacted by Christ that he will see others as Christ does. This will also mean that he will love people as God loves people. The truth of the matter is that the love of God is not really in a person’s heart if they do not show the love of God to others. (1 John 3:17). You see, we are called to demonstrate the gospel visibly. This means that we are to be hands and feet for the Lord, reaching out to those in physical need. And when we meet physical needs of those in distress, we do so for no other purpose but to glorify our heavenly Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16). Jesus said that if you do these things to hurting people, you have done it to me! We serve God by helping the hurting, and do so in the name of Jesus.
But believe it or not, it is actually possible to show acts of kindness to those in physical need, and not do so out of love. The Apostle Paul wrote to the early church at Corinth and said, “if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing (I Corinthians 13:3).” So if our motive in reaching out to others is not purely based on the fact that we love God, there is something radically wrong with our acts of service.
What are you doing as you travel on your Christian pilgrimage to reflect and radiate the very heart of God? God is love and we are to take on the mind and heart of God. We must see people as God does. We must love people as God does. We must minister to people as God would. We are His ambassadors here in this temporary home (2 Corinthians 5:20). Take time out today and pray to God to burden your heart for those in need, for no other purpose but to glorify your heavenly Father!
– Pastor Eric