Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Challenge to Serve the Least of These

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We live in a busy world and each of us has our share of responsibility. The ability to move around freely with limited interruption is a blessing that many people cannot enjoy. This group of people consist of those of various ages, ethnic groups, educational levels, and financial statuses. While one segment of this group may look at others and envy them for some aspect of their lives, they have one thing in common and that’s dependence on others for some type of assistance.

Those who have visible limitations obviously need help and probably have honed their humbleness in relying on ADA services. However, there are those who struggle to ask for help because of the fear of rejection. The stigma of being labeled handicapped in some way can hold you back mentally and spiritually. Those who fear being stigmatized may have some degree of success that can be seen externally, but they suffer silently with issues they can’t manage.

Plain View Oversight

John 5 tells a story about a man who was afflicted with a sickness for 38 years. The Bible doesn’t indicate what type of sickness he had, but one thing is certain, the sickness was a personal battle he contended with too long. The place where the man laid was in Jerusalem at the Bethesda pool. Many people would gather around this pool to wait for an angel that would come … “down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water:” Those who were fortunate to have some type of mobility were able to go into the pool and receive their healing. However, the man who was afflicted for 38 years couldn't seize this opportunity. Healing wasn’t as easy to obtain as it was for others who stepped in front of him.

One day Jesus was visiting Jerusalem for the feast of the Jews and saw the man lying down, he asked him if he wanted to be made whole. The man explained to Jesus that no man was willing to help him get into the pool. I’m not sure what Jesus thought about the man’s situation, but I doubt if he judged him harshly as many people do about others they assume can do more for themselves. Since John stated in chapter one that … “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, all Jesus had to do was speak a Word. Genesis 1 says … In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light:

In the same manner, Jesus spoke to the sick man and said, … “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. (vs. 8). And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: “(vs. 9). This happened on the Sabbath day and caused controversy among the Jews because certain acts were not to be performed on this day. They were more concerned about the man carrying his bed on the Sabbath day than they were about his healing. I’m sure these were the same people that walked by him to go into the temple to pray for many years, and they likely did not offer financial assistance or prayer. While they were in the temple praying and performing religious rituals, they negated their Kingdom assignment when they ignored the sick man.

Passport into the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 25:35-46 informs us that those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and those in prison will receive eternal life. These verses were an eye-opener to me one day because I hadn’t read through to the last verse of this chapter. I heard sermons about verses 35-40 which indicated that when you do these things unto the least of these, it is as if you’re doing it unto the Lord. So when I read through the end of the chapter and gained full understanding that these types of works are important enough that God counts it as qualifications to enter the Kingdom of heaven, I began to reevaluate the things I was taught regarding church work.

A lot of people tend to overlook these types of Kingdom work because it’s not prestigious unless recognized by an important government or religious official especially during times when opportunities for promotion are available. However, God keeps a record of our deeds; good and bad. As a result, He will require us to answer for our works according to Romans 14:12 and II Corinthians 5:10. Now, I’m not encouraging you to change your ways or start doing these works just so you can get into heaven because although God sees our works, he also knows the intention of our hearts. If you desire people to be good to you, do good acts for others without any strings attached. No one wants to feel like a burden to the one who is providing help and any work done grudgingly can be sensed by the person who is receiving help. The Lord also doesn’t want us to be prejudice in our helpful service.

Work While It is Day (John 9:4)

If you haven’t been serving others you know need assistance, try to make time to lend a helping hand. Your schedule may not permit you to spend many hours with someone, but you can help someone by offering to:

• Grocery shop for the elderly, disabled, or those who don’t have transportation.
• Tutor children whose parents may be very busy or don’t have the academic skills regarding a particular subject.
• Clean someone’s home.
• Visit those who can’t attend church, read the Bible to them, and offer prayer.
• Provide financial assistance (pay someone’s utility bill, prescription expenses, tuition, or purchase infant or children’s personal items).
• Provide personal care assistance to the elderly, disabled or sick (i.e, grooming hair, dressing, or feeding services).
• Take someone to lunch who needs someone to talk to during a difficult time in their life, and let your conversation with him or her remain confidential unless it’s life threatening.
• Make welfare check phone calls to the elderly, single mothers, married couples, children, and anyone who wishes someone would notice their situation.
• Provide foster care for children if you’re financially able to do so.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started doing some of the things outlined in Matthew 25:35-46. You may not be able to do all of the good works, but making an effort to show compassion aids in your healing process as well. James 5:16 says … “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Ecclesiates 11:1-2 says … “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.” In other words, sow good deeds while you have the money and strength to do so. If you don’t have money, your strength will be valuable to the person who has no strength.

Form a Team of Servers

These service opportunities don’t have to fall solely on your shoulders. If you’re interested in making a significant impact in your community, recruit others you think may also be interested in making a difference. If your schedule permits, meet once a month to brainstorm how you can expand your service initiatives. Your group can do the following services once a month:

• Host a food distribution day.
• Host a clothing drive and giveaway.
• Host a free luncheon or dinner for those with low income.
• Host an education, health, career, and community resource fair at a church or community center.
• Make and distribute grocery bags to residents who live in your church community and offer a prayer hotline on a piece of paper or card just in case they need someone to talk to, but they’re not comfortable attending church.

Reference Isaiah 58 for more ideas. This passage of scripture provides a broader understanding of Kingdom work, and how to avoid living a self-centered life.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24,KJV).

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