Meeting the Needs of Others
By Bonnie Ricks On September 11, 2004
In Abraham's day, meeting the needs of strangers was of utmost importance. In the home, a guest outranked the family. Every stranger who showed up was to be treated as an honored guest. When Abraham looked up and saw three men standing near his tent, the first thing he did was bow down to them. Then he offered them water to drink and to wash their feet with (Remember, they ran around in sandals in the desert, so their feet could get pretty gross.). Then he offered them a place to rest in the shade and food to eat. In Abraham's mind, he was to drop everything he was doing in favor of making these three men comfortable. Later, he learned that one of the men was the Lord and the other two were angels. But Abraham bestowed all his hospitality on them before he knew who they were.
Meeting the needs of those around us is of primary importance to the Lord. Proverbs 25:21-22 says we should even meet the needs of our enemies. Hebrews 13:2 says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." God even defines meeting the needs of others as a form of fasting. In Isaiah 58:6-7, He says, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter... when you see the naked, to clothe him,..." Read on in that passage to see the rewards God has for those who are concerned with the needs of those less fortunate than themselves. This thing of meeting the needs of the needy is so important to the Lord that it is the measure by which He will divide the sheep from the goats at judgment. Read Matthew 25:31-46 to see how deeply this concerns Him. Then study Jesus' actions throughout His ministry - count the number of times that Jesus met physical needs first, before ministering to a person's spirit.
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Some years ago, my husband and I were visiting a church where we had been invited to speak. A pot luck lunch was served afterward, and over dessert, I was visiting with the pastor. He went into long detail about a "prayer team" he had been organizing to pray for the people in the community who were lost, and for those who were without work or homeless. After he finished describing the elaborate efforts he'd put into organizing this community-wide team of prayer warriors, I asked what else they were doing for the people for whom they were praying. He got that "deer in the headlights" look for a moment, and then said, "Nothing. We're depending on the Lord to take care of them." As gently as I could under the circumstances, I said, "Correct me if I'm wrong, pastor, but if my memory is correct, the last time the Lord dropped food out of heaven He did so for the Israelites while they were wandering in the wilderness. Ever since then, He has seemed more inclined to use folks like you and me to supply food for the hungry and shelter for the homeless. Could it be THAT is why He inspired you to put together this community-wide team… to minister to the physical needs of all these people and THEN to their spiritual needs? It's much easier to tell others about Jesus if your words aren't being drowned out by their growling stomachs." Praise God, that pastor was not offended and did take what I said to heart.
And that brings the question to… How concerned are you for those around you - for the people who have nothing to eat, no clothes to wear, no place to sleep that is warm and safe and comfortable? If you're praying for them, that's a good thing. But what else are you doing for them?
"... I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40
From Newsong Ministries