In the first installment of this series (see “The Sheep and the Goats, part 1”), we examined the first two commands from the parable found in Matthew 25:31-46, feeding the hungry and giving a drink to the thirsty. Today, we’ll look at some practical applications of the other four commands from a physical perspective. In the next post we’ll begin examining these same four commands from a spiritual perspective.
Take in strangers. In our current economic situation, more and more people are losing their homes; not everyone will have a place to go. If you have extra room, consider taking in a family until they get back on their feet. Perhaps you could help those with pets by caring for them until they can afford a place that will allow them to keep their pets with them. If you love children, consider adopting one of the millions of children without parents. Older children, in particular, are in desperate need of a loving family. If you aren’t ready for the commitment required of adoption, consider being a foster parent. Get involved with a ministry like Big Brothers and Big Sisters and invite the children into your home to spend some time with your family. Become a mentor or life coach for someone in need; invite them to stay with you if they are struggling to meet their financial commitments. Support your local homeless shelters; they are always in great need of your financial support. Donate to ministries that provide orphan and refugee care in foreign countries.
Clothe those in need. When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? How many shirts, pants and pairs of shoes do you really need? We have been richly blessed, yet often we get caught up in those blessings to the point that we begin to hoard more than we need. Determine a reasonable number of sets of clothing for yourself. Do this without looking at your actual wardrobe. Once you’ve determined an appropriate number, tell the Lord that you will give away anything over that quantity. Then go into your closet and select the predetermined number of outfits you will keep. Give away the rest to local shelters, a clothing ministry at your church or to families you may be aware of who could use the clothing. Repeat this process annually to keep yourself in check. There are ministries that provide coats to the needy in winter, ministries that provide shoes for orphans, and ministries that clothe refugees and children. Compassion International and Persecution Project, again, do a wonderful work in this area.
Care for the sick. Hospitals have scores of patients who are terminally ill and never receive a visitor. Nursing homes provide another tremendous opportunity to care for those who no longer can care for themselves. Homeless people often lack medicine or the means to acquire it. Head out to areas of your town where the homeless hang out and hand out cold and flu medicine, aspirin, band-aids, facial tissue, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Drive those in need to a local clinic. Take food to a neighbor who has been injured or is perhaps recovering from surgery. Check with your church to get a list of people who cannot get out on their own; visit them, tend to their needs and run errands for them. Support ministries that provide medicine and medical care to third world countries and inner cities. Call your local homeless shelters to find out their medical needs. It is so easy to take our independence for granted. The sick are wholly dependent on the kindness of others.
Visit those in prison. This is a scary one for many people. Connect with a prison ministry to discover ways you can make a difference in the lives of prisoners. Support these ministries with your money and with your time. Go to those who live inside locked walls and just be a friend. Let them see someone outside those walls actually cares for them. Write letters to encourage them. As an aside, I would recommend women visit women, and men visit men. You can donate to ministries who visit incarcerated Christians in countries of religious persecution. The Voice of the Martyrs does a wonderful work in this area. Write letters to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in prison because of their faith. You can learn how to do this at the PrisonerAlert (a ministry of the Voice of the Martyrs) website.
I hope that these past two posts have given you many ideas of how to put the commands of Christ into action. Again, I’d love to hear some of your ideas as well, please leave a comment with your own thoughts. Practice putting your faith into action. You were created and equipped to do these works to the glory of God. Pray for wisdom and the guidance of His Spirit. These activities will be some of the most fulfilling things you will ever engage in. As you live out the commands of Christ you will find yourself growing ever closer to Him. There is no greater cause for which to live.