As followers of Jesus, we are called to be His hands and feet. To love those around us. To care for those in need. And I think it is important that we realize it is a command rather than a suggestion.
We hear it repeatedly throughout Scripture, as Jesus shows us how to live out our lives. If you look at the life of Jesus Himself, He modeled this life of love and service to others each day.
We live in such a self-centered, entitled world that sometimes it is hard to focus our thoughts on the marginalized. We tend to think, “ME, ME, ME!” I think part of the problem is it is in our human nature.
We just started a new sermon series at church called “Selfless.” It’s a great topic as we enter the new year and people are genuinely looking to make changes to their lives. The main subject of these talks is about how you can create more space for Jesus when we deny ourselves.
Less of me = More of Him
It’s a beautiful concept, really.
To be the hands and feet of Jesus to those most in need of His love.
Jesus speaks to this specifically in the story of “The Sheep and the Goats” in Matthew 25. At the second coming of Christ, He will separate the sheep from the goats, saying to His sheep on His right:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Mt 25:35-36 (NIV)
As followers of Christ, we are called to feed the hungry, spend time with the lonely, clothe those who are without, care for the sick and dying, and visit those in prison.
I’d like to believe that most of the time, Christians really do mean well. That our hearts are in the right place. We see a need and want to help but maybe we aren’t sure how. Or we see some needs and realize they are well beyond our means to help. We think we can’t help everyone, so we do nothing.
Inaction at its greatest.
I’ve been guilty of this as well. I mean well, but I don’t act.
But this, my friends, is exactly the behavior that describes the goats in Matthew 25. Inaction.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live my life as a goat. I don’t want Jesus to look at my life and see that I did nothing to help those who desperately needed it. I want to live my life caring for and loving those who come in my path.
I’m certain you want the same thing in your lives.
So, let’s talk about ways to put our care into action for others. Instead of seeing this as unachievable, it really can be broken down into 3 simple steps.
IDENTIFY A NEED
There are lots of people in need. Those around us as well as those throughout the world. God calls us to be a part of the solution. To be active in partnering with Him to love those who are without. We aren’t expected to solve the problems alone and God certainly doesn’t expect us to try and solve every need that we see.
He does, though, expect us to have our eyes open as we go about our day and listen as the Spirit speaks into our hearts.
And when our hearts break for something, for someone, we are moved to act. God does want us to ask ourselves a very important question:
What breaks my heart?
So, I ask you friends to identify the need. Identify what breaks your heart.
Is it starving children? Those in prison who have lost hope? Women who are being abused? Children sold into slavery? Those who are sick and dying? Broken families? The lonely? What tears your heart to pieces?
My heart breaks for hungry and starving children. As a mother of 6 kids, it hurts me to my core to know that children are dying each day because they don’t have access to food and water.
Did you know that, according to the Food Aid Foundation, “795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active life?” They also state that “310 million children die each year from poor nutrition.” And that “66 million primary school-aged children attend classes hungry across the developing world.”
Wow. Staggering numbers. And my heart breaks. There are children attending schools and they haven’t eaten. They are uncomfortable and can’t concentrate because their stomachs growl, they are lethargic and tired, they may be dizzy or light-headed. All because they don’t have enough food.
I can’t imagine.
Yes, there are so many needs out there. But God doesn’t expect you (or me) to be the solution to every one of these. But we can let the Spirit lead us, convict us, and ask what God is calling us to help solve.
What need breaks your heart?
FIND A WAY TO GET INVOLVED TO HELP
In a perfect world, I would find a way to feed all 795 million people who are without food each day. I know that isn’t realistic. But as a follower of Jesus, I’m called to action (and so are you) despite the odds. Despite the numbers.
I’m not off the hook because the need is too great. It’s quite the opposite. I’m on the hook because the need is so great. There are people who lack such basic things that we take for granted and their lives depend on our ability to find a way to get involved.
Friends, we start simple. We start small. I can’t feed 795 million people, but I can feed one.
And that makes a difference in the life of that one.
My family sponsors a beautiful little girl named Ashlin from Guatemala through Compassion International. We prayerfully considered this charity and loved how they serve those in need. For a very small amount each month, we can partner with them and provide food (among other things) to this wonderful little girl who otherwise would go hungry.
Scripture tells us that each child is loved by God, and by teaming up with Compassion International to sponsor Ashlin, we know she is getting nutritious meals that will help her grow into the beautiful woman God has called her to be.
So, we sponsor one child. Helping to bring the love of God to her, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in her life and we are praying this help will break the cycle of poverty for her.
WATCH GOD MOVE
And our one child adds on to what others are doing. It adds on to the 50 other children around the world that families from our small church are also sponsoring. And maybe you are doing the same thing or know someone who is. Those 51 children slowly turn into 100 as the word spreads. Other hearts break and those 100 quickly turn into 200 and then 500. The numbers multiply, and more and more children are being sponsored.
All because of one.
You see, nothing is impossible with God. He blesses our efforts and He will continue to show us the areas we are called to make a difference in.
Compassion International is just one charity that makes a difference in the life of a hungry child. I’m not asking you to support them specifically (unless you feel God calling you to do so) but I am asking you to pray and ask God to show you what breaks your heart and then find a way to get involved to make a difference to one person.
Action. It’s non-negotiable in our walk with Jesus.
Less of us = More of Him
Let’s live a life this year that is selfless. One that focuses on meeting the needs of those around us. It starts with identifying what breaks our hearts and coming up with a way to partner with God to meet those needs.
Then we pray, and watch God do what He does best… work miracles. He is an amazing God!
Will you join me today to choose one way to be the hands and feet of Jesus?
What can you do to reach just one person today?
How is Jesus calling you to action?
Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray we will choose to look around us each day. To see the needs of those we interact with and those around the world. Open our hearts to what breaks yours, God. Show us ways to perform simple acts of love and service to meet the great needs we see each day. Help us choose action over inaction. Let us partner with you in making a difference in the lives of others. Thank you God for multiplying our efforts, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. Break our hearts Lord so that we may move and be your hands and feet here on Earth. Amen.