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And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Mathew 25:40
Today we have much confusion over the mission of the Church. This is one of the passages, which is often misquoted and misinterpreted by many to justify their holistic approach to the gospel. This is one of the verses many would quote to justify, why they strongly feel about the social justice and put strong emphasis on social transformation. This confusion has changed the gospel preaching ministry into so-called “Incarnational ministry“.
An Example of this confusion is found in The Lausanne Covenant.
It states, In the Church’s mission of sacrificial service evangelism is primary. World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. John R. W. Stott explains this statement: “I now see more clearly that not only the consequences of the commission but the actual commission itself must be understood to include social as well as evangelistic responsibilities” We therefore should share his (God’s) concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men from every kind of oppression. We express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive.
The key to understanding this passage lies in ἑνὶ τούτων τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν ἐλαχίστων, “…one of these brothers of Mine…”
- We must ask here a question, who are these brothers?
- Now we have to answer this question, is everyone on this earth His (Jesus) brother and sister?
There are three groups of people who could claim this verse to be talking about them in this passage. The brothers of Jesus who are related to him i.e. his immediate family members and also the Jews who are related to him by way of Jacob. But Jesus was referring to this third group of people. I would like to quote two verses from Mathew. These verses will make it more clear.
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. Mathew 12:49-50
Therefore we can easily conclude that the verse was referring to this group of people. And they are found within the body of Christ. These verses help us to understand the concern of Jesus for his own brothers and sisters- the Church.
Evangelism is reaching people outside the Church of Christ with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But at the same time our social concern should be within the framework of the Church of Christ- the brothers and sisters in Christ.
If this is the case, we must rethink our mission and do it without any confusion. If you do not want to miss your reward then show your concern to the brothers and sisters of Jesus.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do GOOD unto ALL MEN, ESPECIALLY unto them who are of the HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH. Galatian 6:10
The first thing is it provides the etymological implication to do good. As we have ( While we have been given) opportunity (ὡς καιρὸν ἔχωμεν) – a time/ season. Somehow there is a sense of urgency is seen here because seasons do not last. You have a season to sow seed. The word here is used by the author is the same word which has been use in NT for season to sow or reap. This means you cannot let it go. The farmer who does not sow in the opportune time loses his reward. One cannot make an excuse, he cannot do it. We cannot say “NO” when it is in our power to do good. Proverbs 3:27 says, ” Do not withhold good from those whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
Secondly there is inbuilt logical implication to do good, that we have also been given ability or power to do good. Τὸ ἀγαθὸν is, of course, the morally good but includes what is beneficent or kindly. This implies God demands that we should do good to All men-whether one belongs to our country or not, whether he is of same race or not, whether he is of same caste or not, whether he is insider or not, whether he belongs to same party or not, whether he belongs to same denomination or not. We are called to do good. Alleviating sorrowful people, Raising those who bowed down, Comforting those who mourn, delivering those who are oppressed, Protecting those who are in fear, Providing those who are in need and preaching the gospel to those who are perishing. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17 So no one is excused. We should be thankful to God for giving us privilege to do good.
The third thing is chronological implication of doing good. An application is one must begin doing good at home. Charity begins at home. We are to do good to those who are of the HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH (πρὸς τοὺς οἰκείους τῆς πίστεως). People who share common faith with us in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must not neglect or forget those who are needy, sick, weak and helpless, widow and orphan belonging to the Church of Christ.
- They have the first claim on our resources.
- They should be the first who should benefit from our benevolence and liberality.
- They ought to be preferred before all the others.
- They must be fed before the other hungry people of the world.
- They must be clothed before the other naked people of the world.
- They must be sheltered before the other homeless people of the world.
- They should be shown mercy before the hurting people of the world.
Therfore one must be careful and eager to doing good. “And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9 We should take care to do good in our life-time, and make this the business of our lives.
This is a truly amazing Scripture when you look at it in context and think about the impact of it. Paul had gone to Jerusalem with Barnabus and Titus to discuss the issues facing the early church “the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles” . James, Cephas and John gave them the right hands of fellowship and commended them. They agreed with their ministry and gave their approval to Paul and Barnabas. They were discussing the very essence of the Christian message. We find an interesting response from James, Cephas and John that they should remember the poor and to which Paul responded that …”which very thing I was also eager (zealous-ASV) to do.”
Therefore, we must answer three questions here
First question: What were they asked to do?
Second question: Who are the poor?
Third question: What does it mean to “remember” them?
The answer to the first question is very clear that they should continue to preach among the Gentile unbelievers.
The answer to second question requires a little bit more of our attention. Here most of the commentators seem to agree that the “poor” in this context is referring primarily to the poor believers. This is evidenced in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 where it says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem;” So in this immediate context, “remembering the poor” would seem to imply taking up offerings and sending the offerings back to the believers in Jerusalem. It may very well be the poor who would come in their contact as they preach the Gospel.
One of my favorite verses is found in Galatians 6:10 “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” So this reinforces the idea that there should be a special emphasis in our remembering the poor within the church – the worldwide body of Christ.
But the rest of the Scripture expands on this, and many of the Scriptures clearly refer to the poor both in and out of the body of believers.(There are possibly 161 references to the poor). In addition, the word poor is used to refer to everyone from the destitute – those with virtually no material resources at all – to property owners who must sell a portion of their property to meet their immediate needs (Leviticus 25:25). So the poor could be one of the billion or so people who live on less than $2 a day, but they could also be your next door neighbor who lost their job and is temporarily living off their retirement funds!
Finally the answer to the third question lies in its tense and implication of “remember”, which implies a continuous action. We can’t
remember at a point in time – and then forget them. We need to keep on remembering the poor! This question also requires us to go back and reflect on Christ’s ministry. He was concerned about the spiritual need of the people and at the same time he was moved with compassion to see their physical need.
Remembering the poor also has implications on our evangelistic efforts. Jesus said that he came to proclaim the good news to the
poor (Luke 4:18). As we spread the Gospel, maybe we should take special care to include the poor in our efforts!
7,000,000,000th Baby was born on October 31st. One Billion people in just 12 years. Out of of 7,000,000,000, 925,000,000 people go to bed without a meal. Out of 925, 000.000, 405,000.000 live in South Asia, predominantly in India. Which is 310, 000,000 and 10,000,000 people die of hunger every year. 6,000,000 children die of hunger every year. 2,500,000 children die of hunger in India every year. 7000 people die of hunger everyday in India. World’s 1/3rd hungry people live in INDIA.