I want to share a recent personal experience with you in hope of using it as an illustration for this message.
Last week prior to teaching a Tuesday evening Discipleship class at the church I had the opportunity to speak with several of the members of the class. It was mostly small talk and pleasantries except for one person.
The gentlemen whose conversation stood out is a faithful volunteer at the church, he is consistently helping in many areas and ministries. In fact, we auditioned to be members of the choir together. We are both volunteers; we just serve in different areas of the ministry.
I had not seen him in class for a week or so and asked how he was doing. He mentioned that he was doing well but that he had fallen behind in the homework for the class because of a recent change in his living situation; he no longer had a place to live and was temporarily living out of his car. I told him that he could catch-up on the class work and that it would not be a problem. The “homeless” statement really did not hit me at that moment. This conversation took place about 2 minutes prior to class. In 2 minutes I had to start teaching the lessons for the week.
Two hours later class was over and the conversation I had with him was completely out of my mind. Two hours after that I was home and in bed. Two hours after that God wakes me up and begins dealing with me concerning helping this gentleman financially. The amount the Lord laid on my heart was more than I was expecting but yet it was an amount that would make an impact and be able to really help. So, the next day on my lunch break I went and secured the funds and during that evening’s service I was able to give them directly to this gentleman.
He was thankful, I was thankful and I was humbled to be able to help and it felt great to be a blessing to a brother in Christ. It truly felt like living the gospel.
This action got me stirred up and got me thinking about the Good Samaritan. How many times do we walk past people truly in need without sharing the love of Christ through concrete actions that make an immediate difference in people’s lives?
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” (Luke 10:29-37 NLT)
I know that our works or deeds do not save us. I know we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I also know that we were born again and filled with the Spirit of God so that we might perform the works of Jesus Christ in the earth. We are the body of Christ, representing our Lord, ambassadors of His heavenly kingdom.
The Apostle James teaches us that because we have faith in Christ we are moved to action and that our actions are evidence for the faith that we possess. He digs deeper and proclaims that faith without corresponding action is “Dead” or useless.
This can apply to so many different areas of our lives but it goes to illustrate the point I am hoping to make in this brief message. I am hoping to communicate that following Christ means actively helping people with the problems facing their lives, spiritually, emotionally, financially and naturally. We are called to make a difference in every arena. The Apostle James said it this way:
Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? (James 2:15-16 NLT)
Dr. Lester Sumrall said, “Empty bellies have no ears”.
We are called to pray. We are called to preach. We are called to give. We are called to do. We cannot choose only one of these. Jesus did not choose one, He continuously gave all that He was and all that He had and we are called to be like our Savior.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24 NLT)
God will never ask us for what we do not have. I have personally found that He will frequently ask us for more than we feel comfortable doing or comfortable giving. I have also found that when I am obedient to give and do more than I originally felt comfortable giving or doing that God always blesses me abundantly. He has given us the time, talent, treasure, gifts, resources, etc. because He wants to use them not only in our lives but to be a blessing to the body of Christ and to people of this world.
My encouragement to you is do let your faith propel you into action. Open your eyes. Open your ears. Open your heart. Open your mouth. Open your wallet. Begin to share the love of Christ in concrete, tangible ways. Help hurting people. Let’s do more than tell people that Jesus loves them. Let’s show them that Jesus loves them and that we do too.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10 NLT)