Practical Assistance: Meeting Physical Needs

Jesus takes the way we meet, or fail to meet, the physical needs of others personally.

In Matthew 25:42-45 we read where He said the following:

"For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."
They also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"
He will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

So, how can we help people in need?

Ways we can help others in need of physical assistance include but are not limited to:

  • food distribution
  • clothing distribution
  • financial assistance
  • emergency shelter
  • meals for shut-ins
  • repairs and other special projects

Individual believers can respond personally to known needs. A church can form a benevolence committee to evaluate needs and link people to those who can provide assistance. Ministry groups within the church can take on service projects to work as teams to accomplish both short and long term objectives.
If you have the gift of service and/or mercy along with a heart for the sick and shut-in, elderly, disabled, homeless, or poverty stricken, then you will certainly be involved in helping meet people's physical needs. All believers, however, are called to come along side and show the love of Christ to those in need as God gives the opportunity and means.

Specifically How to Help depends on factors such as available resources, finances, facilities, and who can help as well as the type of needs present. Watch for adapting pre-packaged programs. The best course of action may vary from setting to setting. All methods or means of assisting, however, need to be built on solid Biblical principles and much prayer.

  1. First priority is to take care of your own. We could get so consumed in taking care of the needs of outsiders that we run out of time, energy, and resources to look after our own family --physically and spiritually.
    If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim. 5:3-8)
    Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:10)
  2. The overriding purpose of any kind of physical assistance should be the fulfillment of the Great Commission. We must eventually get beyond felt needs to the real core issues.
    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt. 28:19-20)
    Critical concerns for our helping methodology are therefore commitment, energy, compassion, time and love, not merely throwing material resources into a situation. In giving we should be able to follow-up, to be a friend, to have that personal touch in demonstrating God's love.
  3. Sharing must be voluntary, not compulsory. Churches should guard against programs that obligate their people. Fund raising tactics should not be manipulative or control by guilt.
    Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:7)
  4. God's overall theme is justice; God wills justice not mere charity.
    Ps. 10; 146; James 5:1-5 - God defends and upholds the cause of the weak, stranger, and oppressed.
    Deut. 14:28-29; 24:19-21; 26:12-15; Lev. 27:30-32; Num. 18:21-32; Lev. 25:1-7; 25:8-54 - Restoration is involved in the Jubilee Principle, Sabbatical Year, and Law of Tithing and Gleaning.
    2 Cor. 8:13-15 - The idea in giving to meet people's needs is not that others are eased and you are burdened. God is looking for equality.
  5. We need to give people what we do have and trust God for the rest. We do not have to feel guilty when we can't meet every felt need.
    Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you . . . (Acts 3:6)
  6. Remember the Chinese Proverb: "Give a man a fish and he has food for a day. Teach a man to fish and he has food for a lifetime."
    Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. (Prov. 3:13-14)

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