Ellen Martin | @EllenMartin03
With Christmas coming up, it is popular to many to show acts of kindness towards others, donate to charities, etc. Most people know it is good to help others, but it is also what Jesus commands us to do all year round.
Matthew 25:31-46 depicts the final judgement of the world. To summarize the passage, Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats”. Jesus tells the sheep that they have fed, clothed, and welcomed those in need. This group of people asks Jesus when did they do these things, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40 ESV)
For the goats, however, Jesus says they did not take care of those in need. This group of people argues with Him (Matthew 25:44-45 ESV): “Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”
According to these passages, we are to take care of those in need. If we do not, we are in danger. Plus, it is a wonderful gift Jesus gives us to serve others. James 2:14-17 ESV says: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
These verses are talking about our Christian brothers and sisters, however, we should certainly not be limited to helping only Christians. Proverbs 19:17 ESV says “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Further, Matthew 5:42 says “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
It is because of our faith that we are to do good works to others—to our Christian brothers and sisters and to those who are not. We are saved through faith and grace, but works come as a result of faith.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) emphasizes that it is by grace we are saved, not through works: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
We are not to boast about our good works. Even though we have been saved through faith and grace, we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (verse 10) and are to do them.
From these passages, we can derive that we are to serve those in need. We are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the homeless, not turn away those in need, and preach to the lost. Jesus gave us new life, so why not bless someone else with it? If God has transformed your life, why are you waiting to have an impact one someone else’s life? I would encourage you to not limit yourself to giving only at Christmas, but aim to help people in practical ways in your everyday life.
Ellen Martin is a follower of Jesus Christ from Ontario, Canada. She is currently completing her Master’s of Education degree. She is passionate about apologetics, creation, and children. You can follow her on Twitter at @ellenmartin03.