When you’re a child, you have to be told what to do to help around the house—your chores. Maybe you had a chore list, or certain tasks you knew were yours, or just the knowledge that when your mom said to do something, you did it.
But now, you’re getting closer to adulthood. Is there a difference in how you serve now, are you stuck in the same ways of a child: waiting for someone to tell you what to do?
It’s time to widen your sight beyond the walls of your room and your house when it comes to service. Jesus gave us our list of chores in Matthew 25:34-40, when He said that whoever helps the least of His brothers with food, water, a welcome, clothing, or a visit will be welcomed into heaven.
There you have it: the Christian’s chore list. But unlike at home, where if something doesn’t get done, then Mom probably does it; this is the world, where if you don’t do it, someone suffers.
Seeing the Suffering
So who are the suffering? Who needs your help? You have to develop your servant’s heart to know this. You know how your mom has this radar for messes? Something spills, scatters, or moves from its designated spot, and Mom knows. And either someone hears about the mess, or it gets silently put to rights. No applause necessary; it’s just what moms do.
We’ve got to develop that same selfless knack for identifying and taking care of the needs around us. Oftentimes, people hide their suffering—they see it as something shameful or private. But everyone has a need. We just have to see beyond our own pleasures and worries to be able to help the least of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Understanding Your Wealth
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re rich by today’s standards. God commands those of us with plenty to be “rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for [ourselves] a good foundation for the time to come, that [we] may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-18).
And maybe you don’t have a ton of money to throw around, but you do have plenty to offer. After all, the apostle John didn’t say that if we saw someone who needed a shirt, we should go spend our month’s earnings on a cashmere sweater for that person. He said that if we have two shirts, we should give one to someone who needs it. Don’t hoard your wealth: be content with enough and give what you don’t need.
Once you’ve tuned up your “needs and suffering radar,” much like your mom’s “mess radar,” it’s time to act. Here are some steps for how to get started:
- Give your time and words: Not all the needs Jesus listed on a Christian’s chore list were physical. Some of the people He mentioned were strangers who needed a welcome, or sick people who needed a visit. Reach out to people who are trying to find a home and make them feel welcome with a smile and kind words, and let people who are suffering physically know that you care by visiting them.
- Meet physical needs: When was the last time you knew hunger or thirst or cold, and weren’t sure how you were going to meet those needs? The fact that I don’t know that feeling means I should be sharing with those who do. If there’s a food drive at your school or church, ask your mom which cans in the pantry she doesn’t think she’ll use, and drop them off in the collection box. If you hear about a coat drive, sift through your closet for donations. Don’t pass up an opportunity to help.
- Organize your own service project: When you notice a need, and you feel that prick of helplessness and sympathy, don’t shake it off because it’s uncomfortable: use it. You’ve seen a need, and now you must figure out how to meet it. Ask questions, get advice, and enlist help so that the suffering you’ve heard about or seen will be ended.
- Use your riches and talents. Like to read? Maybe you could read to a lonely old widow at church. Are you a good singer? Organize a group to visit a nursing home and sing. If you’re not sure how to begin these activities, talk to your youth minister or a deacon or elder at your church to see about recommending people to serve or serve with you.
- Volunteer regularly. This is a commitment to meditate on with prayer and wise counsel, and it does not excuse you from meeting needs you see in your daily life. Research service organizations in your hometown, and see where you could volunteer. Be sure and pay attention to ones your church is involved in already. Go to Serve.gov, volunteermatch.org, or getinvolved.gov to do a zip code search of groups that need volunteers.
The needs are all around us, everyday. We must not wear our selfish blinders, or see the needs but turn away in helplessness or apathy. Let’s tackle that chore list Jesus set before us, with our eyes not on earthly rewards or praise, but on heaven.