“I Don’t Discriminate, I Hate Everybody” proclaims a bumper sticker that reflects the uncaring attitude and coldness all too evident in the world.
Members of God’s Church must be different! Our lives should be about people. Service to others should be a way of life. This should be reflected in our interactions with society and how we treat those around us—whether it be how we drive our cars, conduct ourselves while waiting in a long supermarket line, or engage others in conversation.
Those called by God (John 6:44) are to follow Jesus Christ’s example of showing genuine concern for fellow human beings (I Pet. 2:21). With that in mind, are you growing in concern for others? Do you have a driving desire to serve? Do you persistently ask God to help you see how to assist brethren?
We must fight against the unloving attitude prevalent in this increasingly self-centered world and follow the perfect example of concern set by Christ.
Christ’s Sacrifice for Humanity
Jesus Christ gave His life for humanity. He came to ultimately free men from the penalty of sin—death. As the Creator (John 1:3-14; Col. 1:15-16), He gave Himself for His creation: “The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Christ’s sacrifice makes it possible for each of us to have eternal life: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
In addition, I Peter 1:18-20 states: “Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [conduct] received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”
Jesus Christ made it possible for mankind to be healed from pain and suffering resulting from broken physical laws: “Surely He has borne our griefs [sicknesses], and carried our sorrows [pains]: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4-5).
Christ has concern about the day-to-day health and welfare of humanity as well as the long-term prospect of eternal life for every human being. This “big picture” approach to others is what we need to learn to be service-oriented.
Christ’s Compassion for Others
To show concern for others, we must have an attitude of compassion, meaning we are sympathetic and tenderhearted toward others’ distress and adversity. Compassion demands action and works. Christ illustrated this attitude through many examples from which we can learn:
- He had compassion on those who were scattered and had no shepherd to direct them (Matt. 9:36-37).
- He had concern for the multitudes and healed them (Matt. 14:14; 20:34).
- He provided for those who followed Him and needed physical food (Mark 8:1-3, 9).
- He cared about little children (Luke 18:15-17).
- He sympathized with the bereaved (Mark 5:35-43).
- He forgave those who sinned against Him (Luke 23:34).
- He taught truth, which sets people free (John 8:31-32).
Jesus Christ showed concern for each of us in the same manner. He had compassion on us when we were called. He provided instruction and teachers to help us. Once our sins were forgiven, we were set free.
The concern we show to others is an extension of God’s love. But to develop this love, you must take certain actions that will lead you to genuinely care for all mankind. Where should you begin?
Communicate with Brethren
Concern can be as easy as fellowshipping with brethren on the Sabbath. Through conversation, we learn about others’ backgrounds. These interactions allow us to find common interests and discern others’ needs. God commands us to assemble not only to be taught, but also to become friends with those He has called (Lev. 23:3; Heb. 10:25).
Take time to listen. Empathy is one of the greatest ways we can show loving concern: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:4-5).
Give people time to both express their joy and perhaps “unload” any difficulties that may be weighing them down.
Identify with the needs of others. Do we understand the emotion at the loss of a family member? Do we realize how difficult childrearing is in this corrupt world? Can we sympathize with those who have lost their jobs? Do we feel pain when others have extended illnesses? Romans 12:15-16 states: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.”
By putting yourself in the shoes of another, you show concern and aid fellow brethren simply by listening.
But this action is only the beginning.
Ask for God’s Help
The first priority after learning the needs of another is to ask for God’s help through prayer. He has the solution to every problem and a greater understanding of a person’s hardship than you. He knows a person’s background—the source or cause of the difficulty in his life—his strengths and weaknesses.
God has power to fulfill any need. When we, as concerned brethren, go before God with the needs of another—we serve that individual. Taking time to pray for intervention in another’s life is a way for a person to “lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
By petitioning God for the well-being of another (I Pet. 5:7), we fulfill the second great commandment (Matt. 22:39). We must never forget the value of intercessory prayer and its impact. Notice: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jms. 5:16).
Are you fulfilling this vital step in showing concern for others? Do you take as much time for others in prayer as you do for yourself?
Never shortchange the effect you could have on another by beseeching God in fervent prayer.
“You have done it unto Me”
Once we ask God in intercessory prayer to help others, we must then take action to help as we are able. Remember, when you help a brother in need, you are directly serving Christ: “Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and you gave Me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink: I was a stranger and you took Me in: naked, and you clothed Me: I was sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison, and you came unto Me.
“Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink? When saw we You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when saw we You sick, or in prison, and came unto You?
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me” (Matt. 25:34-40).
This passage expresses how we can serve brethren as world conditions worsen. Collapsing economies, lost jobs, home foreclosures, persecution and global pandemics could leave others in difficult situations. Will you be mindful to consider those who may be affected?
We are also called to show concern for others outside God’s Church. Our prayers and financial contributions are an act of utmost concern. What could be more helpful to individuals living in the “days of Noah” (Matt. 24:37) than to warn them of the dire consequences of their behavior? They need to hear a message of encouragement and hope in a vile, God-rejecting world.
Christ said good news should be preached to the poor (Matt. 11:5). Our sacrificing for God’s Work as a way of life will heap manifold blessings on those yet to be called in this age, or prepare them for the Second Resurrection. Is this exciting opportunity constantly at the forefront of your mind?
Galatians 6 states: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (vs. 9-10).
Freeing people from a destructive Satan-directed lifestyle is the definitive service opportunity. If your heart is in the Work, your life will reflect this mindset.
Being a Good Neighbor
God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. But who is our neighbor?
When Jesus was confronted with this question, He responded by telling the parable of the good Samaritan, which exemplifies what it means to be a caring neighbor. A traveler was severely injured by thieves and left for dead. A priest and a Levite saw him, yet chose not to help. A Samaritan, a Gentile stranger, took pity on him and showed mercy. He dressed the injured man’s wounds, took him to an inn, and paid for his care until he recovered (Luke 10:25-36).
At the end of the account, Jesus said, “Go, and do you likewise” (vs. 37).
As we have opportunity, we should serve. “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it. Say not unto your neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when you have it by you” (Prov. 3:27-28).
Little actions of service mean a lot in an introverted world. Giving your elderly neighbors a ride when their car breaks down, shoveling their snowy driveway, sending a card of sympathy or making a meal when they are sick, and a smiling face and accompanying wave from across the fence is what being a good neighbor entails.
Inviting Church brethren to your home and extending hospitality is the essence of showing outgoing concern. Sharing “your space” and blessings with guests builds bonds of attachment that are the glue of Christian life. No matter the size of your dwelling, you can arrange to have brethren over to fellowship in a cordial environment.
As ambassadors for God’s way of life, we are to be “given to hospitality” and willing to “distribute to the necessity of the saints” (Rom. 12:13). In fact, we are commanded to do so: “Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (I Pet. 4:9).
Whom should you invite to your dwelling? Notice the precedent Jesus established. “When you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor your brethren, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors; lest they also bid you again, and a recompense be made you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed [crippled], the lame, the blind: and you shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense you: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:12-14).
While it is fine to spend time with close friends, we should not forget the standard Christ set. Remember to invite brethren who may be timid and shy, those with difficult family backgrounds, or those who are still learning social graces. Welcome them into an environment of acceptance where your example will help them blossom.
Occasionally, we have opportunities to visit others in their homes. Be willing to bring part of the meal, lend a helping hand, bring a bottle of wine, or make a special treat to share. In other words, be an appreciative guest.
Visiting someone who is hospitalized or shut-in because of illness or injury is another opportunity to express concern. When one member of the body suffers, we should all show we care (I Cor. 12:26). A bouquet of fresh flowers or a unique gift can lift his or her spirits. We should enter such visits with a cheerful attitude, realizing, “A merry heart does good like a medicine” (Prov. 17:22). Be refreshing! Speed a fellow brother or sister’s recovery by extending a kind word or loving touch.
Also, visit others by means of technology. Call or email your best wishes or write an old-fashioned, handwritten note. It will be a much-appreciated gesture.
Taking time for others makes a difference!
When you show concern to others, they will almost always open up to you. They may reveal some of their faults, weaknesses or personal hardships. You have an obligation to maintain their privacy and confidence.
(That is not to say that you should do it to their hurt, however. If you learn that a brother or sister in Christ is in grave spiritual danger because of serious misconduct, urge them to speak with a minister. If they do not, then you are obligated to notify the ministry.)
Love for others requires we bear their difficulties and maintain their privacy: “A talebearer reveals secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter” (Prov. 11:13).
Remember, God forgives our sins and removes them forever (Psa. 103:12).
Jesus set the standard for loving concern by sacrificing His life for all mankind. As Christ’s disciples, we are to follow His example of service.
Supporting and doing the Work of God, which preaches the truth of the gospel to all nations, is the means by which we show our love for mankind. The truth will eventually set all men free from every difficulty.
In addition, praying for God’s intervention in the lives of others and taking action on our part based on biblical commands enables us to be good neighbors and true disciples of Christ: “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Having the love of God—outgoing concern—is part of your Christian duty and something that we should be growing in every day. Will you seek out every opportunity to fulfill this command?