Article: BE CONCERNED ABOUT OTHERS | Jacob Varghese

Whatever we do must help others to grow and mature to be like Christ.

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Have you heard people say to one another, “Mind your own business”, or “Why do you poke your nose in other people’s business?” Whenever some one tries to get into the bottom of an issue that he/she is not directly involved in, most of us would say it. But it is neither godly nor good to follow that kind of advice, for the word of God says, “Let each of you look out not for his own interests, but also for the interests of others”. And also, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This clearly shows that no one should mind his/her own business only. If we obey God and love our neighbor as ourselves, we will be concerned about them and their welfare.

I used to be one of those who think people can live life alone. I used to think I don’t need anybody and could live my life quietly, alone, without troubling anyone or getting troubled in the process. Therefore I tried to live close to people and not be concerned about them. I did not even know their names because I thought relating to others would lead to many troubles. However, as time went on, I felt that the Spirit of God was dealing with me very directly. I started praying that God would help me to change my attitude and throw off my unconcern. For how can you love God whom you have not seen and yet be unconcerned about your brother/sister whom you can see? As God’s people, we are called to care for others. Let us not wait for the Lord to push us from our ease, complacency and laziness and start caring. The word of God says that we should seek opportunities to do good: “… make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good” (Eph.5: 16). So, brothers and sisters let us throw off our unconcern.

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Intercession

Concern for others will draw us to the spirit of intercession. The word of God says in Ephesians 6:18, “Pray in the spirit, on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all saints.” I am sure most of us know how to persist as we pray for our own needs and wants. But when it comes to others, we are good at saying, “God loves you, don’t give up hope, continue praying.” We are expected to continue to pray for others until our prayers for them are answered.

We cannot change the circumstances and people. We can only be responsible for what we do, our attitudes and what we preach. It is important that (since we have accepted what Jesus has done on our behalf) we learn His perspective, teachings, works and requirements, and to pursue them by surrendering, step by step, to the Holy Spirit, for His purification, empowerment and guidance.

Condition of the Poor

One of the best ways to get a perspective on how privileged we are, is to go and observe how the poor people live with their many limitations. We see the reality of a situation where people have no opportunity of medical care and no pure drinking water, no clothing, no proper food and total absence of sanitation and sewage systems. Only when we observe this situation of the poor and the other problems they face, we will begin to understand how blessed and privileged we are. How can we remain indifferent to such situations of life when millions of people in this world are treated as garbage by the rest of the world? These are some of the areas where we should express our concern for others.

What is the purpose of our life? Is it personal comfort, safety and pleasure? Or is it serving others and our creator? One cannot serve God with out serving one’s neighbors. Our neighbors are not simply those in our local community. It is any one whom God brings to our attention and any one who is in need. But God will not bring to attention the needs of others, if we are totally preoccupied with our own concerns. Such attitudes have been a hindrance in the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel is today presented as a package of benefits rather than one of dying to self and being conformed to the image of Christ. John 14:12 says that anyone who has faith in Jesus will do His works. Jesus focused upon “preaching good news to the poor… proclaiming freedom to the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk.4:18, 19). How can we keep on doing His work, if we ignore His agenda? Are we doing God’s work, when we seek out the “likable” poor and needy? Are we doing Jesus’ work when we give only to those whom we can control as to how the money is used and get credit for our giving before others?

Jesus’ Concern

In the gospels, we discover the great concern that Jesus showed in His ministry. His greatest concern was, of course, for the sins of the people and their souls. But while living among people, He demonstrated His care and concern for the physical needs of the people as well. The raising of Lazarus very well illustrates this truth. When He went to the home of Mary and Martha and saw their sorrow and that of their friends, the scriptures tell us: “…He groaned in the spirit and was troubled…. Jesus wept…. He loved him”(Jn.11:33-36). There are many similar instances, which demonstrate the concern of Jesus. Jesus’ life ought to challenge us today to develop a genuine concern for others, their physical and spiritual welfare.

Many came to Jesus for healing and deliverance. He was moved with compassion because of their great needs: “But when He saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed…” (Matt.9.36). He was moved with compassion when He saw that people were hungry: “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have already been with me for three days, and have nothing to eat” (Mk.8:2). He then provided food for the people.

Not only did Jesus show His compassion for others in need, but He also taught great lessons on the subject. Perhaps the best known is the story of the Good Samaritan (Lk.10: 25-37). Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul and strength, and the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as we love ourselves. In responses to the one who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus narrated the story of the Good Samaritan. The story is about a man who gave his time, energies, and money to help a stranger in need. The stranger had been beaten and robbed and was in need of medical attention, food and a place to stay. He provided it all and as a result, he received the praise of Jesus for his act of compassion. Jesus then told the lawyer. “Go, and do likewise.”

Perhaps, the most striking lesson that Jesus taught about our responsibility in helping others is found in the picture that He gives the final judgment. Jesus continues to describe the scene by saying that those who did not render their service to others would go away into eternal punishment, but those who did render their service to others would go away into eternal life (Matt.25: 31-40, 46). We notice that, in each of the above cases, not only help is extended to friends or brothers, but to stranger as well. These instructions are further carried on in to the epistles: “keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers for, by doing so, some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb.13: 1, 2). The apostle Paul wrote to several congregations and instructed them with these words: “therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good work to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”(Gal.6: 10). The church’s responsibility of helping the needy is not, therefore, limited to those within its fold.

How to Help?

The scripture commands us and reminds of our responsibility to help others; but they do not tell us in any detail how to do it. Each one is left to decide on his/her own as to how he/she should help others. The examples that we have are few. We find in Acts that some of the widows were neglected. The apostle’s answer to the problem was to appoint several men to oversee the works so that they will see to it that the needs of the widows were met. This would be one of the responsibilities of deacon in the church today. 1Corinthians 16:1-3 and 2 Corinthians 8-9 speak of several men taking up a collection from several congregations to help the poor saints in Judea. James wrote that Christians are to care for orphans and widows: “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”(Jas.1: 27). James, however, does not tell us how the local congregation or the individual is to do this: therefore, it is left to us to do in the most appropriate way.

The most important care that the Church and Christians can render is the saving and teaching of souls. Even benevolence is a means to that end. But it is difficult for a hungry person to study or learn God’s will. The church’s responsibility is not only to feed and clothe the world, but also to teach the Gospel. The Lord expects us to be compassionate to others just as He was. The Bible says, “… We should continue to remember the poor….” (Gal.2: 10). Christ becomes our example in our service to others. He taught His disciples to love and have compassion for the unfortunate, and He practiced what He taught. If we are to walk in His footsteps and follow His example, we too must do the same. In regard to methods of feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, taking care of orphans and widows, little information is given. We are simply told to do it. But whatever we do must be in accordance with the purpose of the church, to reach souls, to teach the Gospel and help its members to grow and mature to be like Christ.

JACOB VARGHESE

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