Updated: Feb 23
Col. 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Excerpts from Matthew 25: 31-46 “He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, 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.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Jesus is telling us here that on Judgment Day He is going to separate us out, with sheep (believers) on His right, and goats (unbelievers) on His left. Once they are sorted, He is going to release the believers into their eternal destiny with Him. He then goes on to say that they served Him directly by serving others in need, even when they didn’t realize it. Not that the acts of compassion themselves are what their salvation is based on. Rather, because they belong to Him through His grace and their faith, thus having the spirit of Christ, they live out what His heart would have them do in response to their love for the Shepherd (the Savior whom they are following).
Jesus identifies so strongly with the needs of others that He refers to them as His needs. He is hungry when anyone else experiences hunger. He is thirsty when someone needs a drink and doesn’t have one. He suffers along with anyone who is sick. He feels lonely along with each and every prisoner. He, too, feels like a stranger whenever someone new is feeling out of place. He feels naked when others have insufficient or no clothing.
If our Savior is experiencing these things along with those who are experiencing them here on earth, we also should have similar compassion for those who are in need. He has given us an abundance of resources as the body of Christ (the Church) and we are to be distributing them whenever we see the need before us and have the ability to respond. The Church needs to collectively be seeking to meet needs in a responsible yet generous manner, and we as individuals need to do it personally as well. Obviously, a person cannot give away all their resources because then they’d be the one lacking. It takes discretion and discernment to know how to respond to the variety and immensity of the needs before us.
Having gone through the 7.1 earthquake on November 30, 2018 here in Alaska I have been especially tuned in to the suffering of those in Turkey who just experienced a 7.8 earthquake. The magnitude was stronger than ours and caused far more devastation, trauma, and loss of life than the one here in Alaska (current death toll is estimated to be between 44,000-49,000 people, current count of apartment buildings that have collapsed is 84,000).
My heart goes out to those who survived and are hoping to find their loved ones still breathing in the rubble. They have no place to go. Some sit amidst the rubble in the street with only a bonfire for light and warmth in winter. Some are displaced to other cities where they are strangers and have nothing. Because of experiencing our own earthquake, I empathize deeply with these people whom I don’t know personally, even though what I went through didn’t have near the catastrophic outcomes they are living through.
As a Christian, I feel compelled to do something…a tangible expression of my empathy to say to these foreign people that I see their suffering and my heart longs to extend relief in some way. Comfort and provision come from the Lord, but He often uses His people to meet the needs of others with their gifts of time, their sacrifices of their own treasures (money), and the expertise of their talents, as cited in the above Matthew 25 passage.
If you feel your stomach tighten when you watch the news reports of the earthquake devastation, or you wake up at night and begin thinking and praying about those displaced in Ukraine by the war that has been going on for a year, then your heart is tuned to what breaks God’s heart. My reason for writing this article is to tap into the compassion of Jesus that is distributed throughout the hearts of other believers who are compassionate enough to do something tangible.
If you are like me, and you stand before a full wardrobe of clothing when you get dressed in the morning, let us remember to clothe ourselves also with compassion. Let us look for what Jesus is hurting over in the lives of those less fortunate and consider what we feel called to do in response to the compassion we are wearing in our heart. Don’t shrug it off or change the channel because it’s too hard to look at. We are to feed, water, clothe, visit, invite, and look after those who are in need because when we do so, we are caring for our Savior as we care for others.
Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
The Trusted places I know of who are helping with needs of those affected by the recent earthquake or the war in Ukraine:
Samaritan’s Purse www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/turkey-earthquake-response
· Response to Turkey crisis: they airlifted a mobile hospital and dozens of medical personnel to Turkey on Feb. 9 to address the urgent physical needs of suffering families, along with 18 tons of supplies and tents.
· Response to Ukraine crisis: They have five medical facilities operating throughout the country, and a robust non-medical relief response as well.
Encompass World Partners: www.encompassworldpartners.org Note from their website: As a global church, let’s together help the people of Turkey meet their basic human needs and to offer spiritual healing. You can help by giving to Encompass’s Earthquake Relief fund.
Ananias House: https://give-usa.keela.co/turkey-earthquake-relief
Note from their website re: hours after the earthquake hit them in Turkey: “After a quick plan was set in place…our leaders set off as a team, loaded with the necessary supplies: food, flashlights, blankets, shoes, coats, and winter clothes.” They are staying and organizing a relief effort in their area.