Truths

A Who is my neighbor

One NCF office is known for giving out copies of the old Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who. Maybe you can guess why. Horton noticed something no one else did. There were people no one else noticed, who were in danger. Horton vowed to protect them, to give them voice, and ultimately to save their lives.

Dr. Seuss was not a Christian, and we, unlike Horton, are not elephants. Still, the book makes an important point. Some of us have been given more power and influence than others, and it behooves us to use it to advocate for those who aren’t able to fight for themselves. Most of NCF’s givers are already doing this, but it can be good to go back and look at why.

We are called to bring light to places where people can’t see (Matthew 5:16), attention to the voices people can’t hear (Proverbs 31:8-9), justice to the people others oppress (Psalm 82:3), and hope to the world in the name of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15; Mark 16:15-16).

We are called to be like Horton, to be advocates. And no matter who in the jungle is trying to stop us, we are to remain steadfast, unwavering, committed to the One who gives us strength and the people he loves on earth.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required. – Luke 12:48 NASB

So this month, on our site, we’re looking at who the Bible tells us to help, where people are voiceless or powerless or in need of a helper. And we’ll look at how we can be advocates for them too.

The evidence in the Word

What does the Bible say about our enormous obligation to others?

Jesus tells a story in Luke 10. Some people call it the parable of the “Good Samaritan,” but we can miss the implications of this story. It isn’t only a message to remind us not to pass by someone on the side of the road, or a story written just to show Jesus’ disdain for our judgment of others. At least in part, this is a story about a man who came to Jesus trying to determine who he was obligated to help, in order to do the minimum required to gain eternal life. The Scripture puts it straight. He wanted to justify himself (verse 29).

At NCF, we don’t know many people doing the minimum. We know a lot of people who are passionate about helping others.

So … who are our neighbors? Who are these vulnerable people, and who are we to be for the for them?

We’ll let the Bible answer that question. We encourage you not to pick and choose from the list below but read it all slowly. Pray as you do, that God will make his heart, and yours, clear to you.

May the two be aligned as you read his Word.

  • [L]et your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
  • We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. – Romans 15:1
  • For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
  • Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

The poor (and homeless)

  • Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31:9
  • Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.– Romans 12:13
  • A righteous man knows the rights of the poor … – Proverbs 29:7

Widows and orphans

  • Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27
  • Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. – Psalm 68:5
  • Bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. – Isaiah 1:17.
  • Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow. – Deuteronomy 27:19

The sick (those who need healing)

  • Heal the sick … and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” – Luke 10:9
  • He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. – Luke 9:2

The oppressed (those in need of justice)

  • He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8
  • Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression … – Isaiah 1:17
  • Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? – Isaiah 58:6

Sojourners (immigrants and refugees)

  • 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 … a stranger and you invited me in. – Matthew 25:35
  • Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. – Exodus 23:9
  • There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you. – Exodus 12:49

The persecuted

  • Share with the saints who are in need. Practice hospitality. – Romans 12:13
  • Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
  • Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. – Hebrews 13:3
  • And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 NASB

The hungry

  • If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness … – Isaiah 58:10
  • Then the King will say to those on his right … “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” – Matthew 25:35

Prisoners

  • The King will say to those on his right … “I was in prison, and you came to visit me.” – Matthew 25:35
  • Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them … – Hebrews 13:3

And in the end ….

  • 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.” – Matthew 25:34-36
  • Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. – Matthew 25:40
  • For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. – Hebrews 6:10

We pray these verses will serve as encouragement to keep doing the good work you are doing or inspire you to a new work as God directs. May God bless all of you who are serving the vulnerable.


Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Studios, 20th Century Fox

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