Saturday, 9 November 2013

Helping those in need.

Romans 12:13
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
The next part of living as sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1) involves how we show our love for fellow Christians: We need to share with those who are in need and be hospitable.

They're commands that we hear all the time, and we know we should do them, but it's easy to just shrug them off, or to think to ourselves that we're doing a good job at them already and there's no need to improve. Instead, our attitude should be that we be giving everything to God as living sacrifices. That means we should be considering these commands and not be content with where we are at - we should be striving to do better and to honour God more through them.

Paul commands us here to share with God's people - fellow Christians. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't help non-christians (There are plenty of verses about providing for the poor regardless of who they are), but we should specifically be looking to help fellow Christians who are in need. By doing that we make the gospel attractive to non-christians - they see our love for each other and that we are different from other groups, and that can cause them to ask questions and seek answers.

So what does sharing with God's people look like?

The more obvious examples are things like helping those who don't have enough money who are Christians, or giving food to those who maybe can't afford it. These are good things, and I don't think we do them enough. But the truth is that we aren't always in contact with these people. We don't alway know who they are and so we can't always help them. So what other things can we do? We should be looking around us at the needs of others and be thinking about how we can help. Maybe it's giving up some time to help out a family who is really busy at that time - maybe cooking them a meal or offering to baby sit their kids. Maybe it's as simple (and hard) as talking to someone who isn't in our social circle, or spending time with someone that others leave out. As Christians we are called to associate with the poor, the weak, those who we would usually try to stay away from to protect our own social rank. We need to love those people and care for them as much as we love our friends or family. We need to treat them as brothers or sisters in Christ.

How are we meant to know the needs of those around us? We have to love them and be involved in their lives. We need to be honest with them and seek honest answers from them. We need to be trustworthy and make those deep friendships in our churches so that we are in a position to help those people who need it and to know their needs. That takes time and effort. And it has to be selfless - with the sole purpose of trying to help them, not trying to help ourselves.

There are also the bigger applications of this: giving money or volunteering time to charities who help Christians (or non-christians) in the third world who don't have enough food to survive. Praying for persecuted Christians and writing letters to them (you can do that through Voice of the Martyrs).

There are countless applications of this command. What we need to do is be praying about how God wants to use us, and to be keeping our eyes open for when he presents opportunities.

What about being hospitable?

Being hospitable basically means opening your house to others, or providing for the needs of others. Are we willing to let people into our houses in order to help them? Are we willing to give all we have as a sacrifice to God and in service of him?

I hope they were some helpful thoughts!
God Bless,

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