Jesus tells us that helping those in need is key to being accepted into the kingdom of Heaven. Not only that, but the help that we give He considers to be directed towards Him, personally! “For I hungered, and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me in; naked, and ye clothed Me; I was sick, and ye visited Me; I was in prison, and ye came unto Me.” (Matthew 25:35,36) This passage of scripture also indicates that quite often we won’t recognize His face in those we have compassion for; “Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, `Lord, when saw we Thee hungering and fed Thee, or thirsty and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger and took Thee in, or naked and clothed Thee? Or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee?” (Matthew 25: 37-39) Jesus tells us that when someone is down and out and really needs help, that someone stands in for His expectation of our response. They way we respond has eternal consequences for us (Matthew 25:34, 41).
Often you don’t have to go far or look too hard to find someone in need of love and mercy. It could be your son or daughter, who hungers for a listening ear and some encouragement. It could be your friend who has just lost his temper and has made himself a stranger to you. Your friend may need the shelter of continued friendship even though he or she isn’t deserving of it. It could be your wife, who through the intimacy your share is vulnerable to every harsh and critical word that passes between you. Without our armour we are naked to those closest to us and easily hurt. Our words can heal or hurt; “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. ” (Proverbs 18:21) Scripture tells us: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: … ” (James 1: 19) Love your ears more than your tongue!
Some spend a lifetime paying their tithe while going through the motions of a religious life and never meet up with Jesus; “Not every one that saith unto Me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) Jesus doesn’t care about narcissistic spirituality and lofty otherworldly over-identification with some ‘Great Presence Out There’ or ‘Inner Luminosity in There’. Jesus cares about how you treat your fellow human beings when they need your help especially when they are not that lovable. “If any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1: 26, 27) Affliction stinks! Affliction offends! Affliction demands! Affliction inconveniences! Affliction repels! And in the middle of that awful stinking, offensive, demanding mess is a broken individual and Jesus’ expectation.
To really help someone you must ask prayerfully how to help. Discernment is very important so you don’t enable. “Codependent people have difficulty saying no. They do and give even when it is irresponsible to do so. Do you have a child or loved-one who abuses drugs or alcohol and you realize that their request for funds is only going to be used towards financing their bad habit? Is it impossible for you to turn the person down because you just want to be kind and maybe your kindness will make them feel better? This is a common symptom of the perpetual cycle of codependency and enabling.” (Enabling and Codependency) We must learn to listen to God and help in His way and not hinder in our way. Sometimes the best help you can give is just to listen and not babble harsh judgement. Oh that I might remember my own words and follow them with God’s help!
Scripture tells us; “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” (Proverb 3:27) The Holy Spirit will show you how to give to those in need if your heart is open to it. The time will be right to help and you will have the resources available. The Bible gives good advice on giving help to those in need; “Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need.” (2 Corinthians 8:11-14 New Living Translation)
The essense of spirituality is to have a heart for Jesus. Lookout for the least of His brothers; “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41) A commentary points out; “If done from love to Christ, it will be rewarded; and hence we learn that the humblest acts of Christians – the lowest service that is rendered – will be graciously noticed by Jesus and rewarded.” (Barnes Notes)
Jesus said; “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples: if ye have love one for another.” (John 13:35)
Praise the Lord!