Someone states that he is a Christian, but his actions offer little evidence. Another quietly reaches out to care for others, and his life speaks of his faith. John Wesley believed that our faith should create a deep longing in us to serve others. Jesus’ brother, James, agreed. “As the body without the spirit is dead,” he inscribed, “so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26, NIV). The worth of a Christian’s faith is revealed in the loving service he imparts. It is revealed in surrender to give his life away because Jesus gave His life. The sacrificial and obedient love of Christ has changed his heart.
Compassionate Christian service arises out of love for Christ. “‘For I was hungry’ Jesus said, ‘and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me'” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV). If faith without works is dead, then faith applied as Jesus spoke in these verses is definitely alive. We are to share compassion because of the sacrificial compassion Jesus had for us.
Ask yourself, “how do I respond when I know a need exists?” “Do I reach out and share a helping hand? Do I provide shelter or food or a share an encouraging word?” These questions aren't asked to spur you into just running out the door and looking for needs to be fulfilled! What they really ask is what is the state of your heart? What kind of faith do you have? Is your heart really His? Are you available when a crisis occurs or God brings a need to your attention? Do you have the love of Christ that breathes life into hard situations? We are to live a life of compassionate ministry every moment of our lives, because of what Christ has done for us. This is to be our way of life until the day we die. It is a heart attitude that should always affect how we respond to the needs of people everyday and in every walk of life.
Our heart attitude toward serving others should be the same as Christ’s. Although the Son of God, He had a humble heart (Philippians 2:6-7). The apostle Paul urged, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4). We are called to give sacrificially expecting nothing in return. True compassionate service is born of sacrifice, and recognizes the costly price Jesus paid so that it might be rendered.
Loving service to others is a lifestyle. Is it my lifestyle? Is it your lifestyle? Is my faith alive in what I do for others? Is my heart available to reach out in love as Christ reached out to me? If what I do to help someone is inspired by faith and not by “show”, then the love of Christ that I share will impact that person's life. If my heart is made new by His love, He can use me to help another find freedom from the pain of life. My life shall be a life of worth, because He has remade my heart, and I have allowed Him to love through me. In giving my life away, I have given His compassionate heart.
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