Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
MATTHEW 25:40 NIV
Jesus urged his followers to care for the hungry, the homeless, those who are sick or in prison. Surprisingly, he suggested that our loving service to these needy people would be a gift
to him. This theme bounces through the Scriptures. Love for God means love for others (1 John 4:8). Love is the highest calling for the Christian, our identifying trait (1 Corinthians 13:13; John 13:35).
As we care for others, showing them God’s love, we often see them open up to a relationship with God. Care builds a bridge over which conversations can cross. Care builds trust, and trust allows people to talk about the things that matter most. As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Several years ago, my next-door neighbor broke his foot stepping awkwardly off his steps. When I heard about it, I felt prompted to mow his lawn. He really appreciated it. It made such a big impression that, when his foot was healed and winter came, he used his new snow-blower to clear our driveway multiple times.
I didn’t mow his lawn in order to get my driveway cleared. I did it because the Spirit prompted me to show love in this way. I’m sure you’ve done similar things. The more we follow divine nudges and care for others in little ways, the more the Lord shines his love through us. These little things matter. Being a good neighbor is rarer than you realize. Simple acts of generosity can break through the isolation of our communities and establish real relationships.
Those relationships can be mutually beneficial. My neighbor and I do good things for each other. And as you follow the Spirit’s leading to care for others, you might find opportunities to let others care for you. That’s what friendships are about.
Look at it this way: When you receive care, it takes you out of a position of power and into a place of dependency. You are no longer in control. Because the other person has willingly chosen to serve you, the relationship grows stronger. As a result, there is often opportunity to talk about the deeper things of life.
Love in Action
Listen for the Spirit’s leading. In your sphere of influence, you’ll find many needs, and you can’t meet them all. But if you pay attention, God will guide you with laser-like precision to show his love in specific ways to certain people around you.
Do not seek to manipulate people through the care you give. Do not smother them with your attention. This is not about you and your accomplishments. You are the hands and feet of Jesus, loving and serving others.