It is the season of giving. Christmastime. Giving is on everyone’s mind. Presents for friends and family. Finding that special gift. It’s also a time for charitable giving. Many churches and charities find it’s a time when many needs come to the surface, and they respond with their biggest ministry efforts of the year.
As we give this season, hopefully, it will be just an extension of the caring and giving that we do year ’round. The needs are there all year long. People have special needs children. There are disasters like fires, floods, storms. There are illnesses and loss of loved ones. There are emotional crises, depression, failed relationships. This year has certainly made us aware of the needs.
As Christians, we are called to minister to those in need. It is both a “family” thing—”love one another,” ministering to fellow Christians in need—and an outreach—”love your neighbor as yourself,” ministering to a lost and dying world. It is all about showing the love of Christ.
Jesus told his disciples, “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” There are several implications to this. Jesus is encouraging us to love and care for our fellow believers. Yet, in doing so, we will be demonstrating to everyone around that we are His followers. For us to be any different than any worldly charity, we need to be doing this for all our “one anothers” all the time.
This is much more than turning to the person next to you when the preacher tells you to on Sunday morning and saying “I love you.” This is really meeting needs, caring, and loving in practical ways. And, if “all men” are going to see it, it is going to have to happen outside the four walls of the church—whether that church is in a massive brick building, or a simple gathering in a home. What’s really cool is that when they do see it, they will know that there is something different happening, and they will want to know more. In other words, loving our fellow believers is an effective form of evangelism.
But there is still more. What is really, really cool, is that when we show love and meet someone’s needs, they are grateful. We can point them to the God who supplied our need, so they can be grateful to Him. And we can be grateful to Him for the opportunity to serve. And the more people who are helped, the more people who will be grateful to Him. And the more people who do the helping, the more people there are who will be grateful to Him.
Do you see? It’s really about bring honor to Him. It’s about being His hands and feet in the world, and bringing Him glory. Not only will the needs of our fellow Christians be fully met, but thanksgiving to God will overflow. And that, my friends, is what it’s really all about.