Our communities are full of people we need to help. Seemingly every community in this country has molested children, pregnant and homeless teens, opioid addicts, alcoholics, gamblers, new mothers who have no parenting skills, those who are newly divorced, widows, orphans, people shunned because of illnesses like HIV/AIDS, individuals and families who deal daily with mental illness, the homeless, the hungry. And the list goes on.
How do we help those who need it?
First, we must see them
We help them the way Jesus helped them. He saw them. While everyone else in society was ignoring them, shunning them, hushing them, exploiting them or even killing them, Jesus saw them.
This is the first step. You must see them. This is what Jesus did. He didn’t ignore them. He saw them and then he helped them.
When he came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. Right away a man with leprosy came up and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Reaching out his hand, Jesus touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed (Matthew 8:1-3).
Jesus saw the leper. Everyone else avoided lepers, but not Jesus. This man probably hadn’t felt a physical touch in years. Jesus touched him and he was healed.
Jesus saw the faith of the centurion and healed his servant (Matthew 8). The Jews hated Roman centurions. They were an occupying force. Jesus didn’t avoid the centurion. He saw him and met his need.
Further down in Matthew 8, Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law with a fever and he healed her. At the end of Matthew 8, Jesus came in contact with two demon-possessed men. I probably would have run away from them. Not Jesus; he cast out the demons.
He saw the paralytics.
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He saw Matthew sitting in his tax collecting booth. Tax collectors were a special class of hated people. The tax collectors were worse than sinners, but Jesus saw Matthew and made him a disciple.
Seeing those in need like Jesus sees them
Jesus saw those in need, and he helped them.
This is what we are to do. We are to meet people in their place of need and help them. What they need varies, and we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our community.
Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves (Romans 15:1).
It is easy to go through life keeping your heads down and the blinders on. It is easy to ignore the plight of those around us. If we don’t pay attention to those in need around us, we sleep a little better because ignorance is bliss, but this is not how we are to be.
In every way I’ve shown you that it is necessary to help the weak by laboring like this and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
Do you believe it is more blessed to give than to receive? Maybe at Christmas, we do.
At Christmas time, we sing, “I wish the spirit of Christmas was kept throughout the year.” It can be. But after Christmas, we choose to put the blinders back on, bury the spirit of generosity in a hole and prioritize ourselves first.
Brothers and sisters, people around us are hurting. We need to help those in need.
Open your eyes and see those in need. Then, do what is in your power to do and let Jesus do what only he can do.
We don’t have the power to change lives, but we know who does. His name is Jesus, and we are his representatives on this earth. Don’t underestimate the power of the gospel to change lives, communities and cities. Meet their needs and give them the gospel. This is the power of Christ in us.
Benjamin Karner is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Laredo. For more about him and his ministry, please visit his website.