Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Having Compassion on All the Truly Needy is a Command from Jesus, Not a Suggestion, Advice or Opinion

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me (Matthew 25:45).

One of the most confronting teachings of the Bible, which many true followers find hard to accept is that whosoever does not help those in need commit a grave sin against God and accordingly will go to Hell. This is indeed what the Bible teaches in Matthew 25:31-46.  1 John 3:17 makes it very clear:
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

So, what exactly does it require of the follower of Christ when Bible commands him or her help the needy? This is the question we must ask. 

Does it mean to help anyone who is needy, not just the fellow followers of Christ who are needy, but also the unsaved who is needy? What does it mean to truly help the needy? Who are the truly need? What qualifications are there, if any, to the command by Christ to help the needy? How does one help the needy without being stained by the world in doing so as James 1:27 implies that is is possible to do by saying, 'and to keep himself unspotted from the world'. Those are what we the Church must understand to do as Christ said to glorify God and God alone and to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and will all our strength, and to love our neighbours as oneself (Matthew 22:36-40).

1 John 3:17 does not only refer to helping one's brother in Christ. It refers to helping anyone who is neighbour in need. Of course, if a person professes to follow Christ but does not help a fellow follower of Christ in need when he see that need and when he can help, he is not a true follower of Christ (Matthew 25:31-46).  However, this does not mean that not helping an unsaved person who is truly need is acceptable in the eyes of God. What this merely means is that it is especially vile in the eyes of God to not help the needy of His people, and does not discount His command to help all those who are truly need. 

One might ask, who is my neighbour as the teacher of the law asked Jesus. The incident is recounted in Luke 10:25-37:

 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 

 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 teaches that the neighbour of a person is anyone around us. It includes all those who are not brothers, including one's enemies as was in this case. To be a neighbour to another is to show compassion towards another person made in the image of God. The Samaritan in helping the Jew, who were hostile enemies, was the neighbour of the Jew for he has compassion on him. 

To love one's neighbours as oneself the Bible commands (Matthew 22:39; Luke 10:27-28) is to love those who are not brothers. It is to help those who are needy, without having regard as to whether they are one's brothers as did the Samaritan. Those who do not even seek to help one's brother are not neighbours as was the case of the priest and the Levite who walked past the needy man, a fellow Jew who was supposed to be his brother and neighbour, but showed themselves to not be his neighbour at all in being able to help him in his time of need, but choosing shun him. 

What makes a person a neighbour of another is the compassion he shows towards his need, whether he is his brother or enemy. It is not by being of the same blood that makes a person his neighbour. It is how he cares for his needs that makes him a neighbour.

As such, in referring to one's brother in 1 John 3:17, while it is implying that it is especially vile to see a brother in need, and not helping him when one can, it is also implying that a person, who sees another who is not his brother is needy, but refuses to have compassion on him, he has no love. For just as Christ loved us while we were not his, He loved us and had compassion on us.