This is a reality in my life as it is in yours—there are more people who could use care than what you can care for yourself. People need care. Life is hard. When and where the need for care outpaces the ability to provide care, how do you know what kind of help to provide and when to give to those in need?
In regard to those we meet who need care on some level, these five questions help you determine how to both see their need and provide the care that you can to help them.
Question One: Do I See This Person as Someone in the Image of God?
God created men and women in His image. The Bible explains that on the sixth day of creation God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:26-28). Adam and Eve serve as the Father and Mother of all humanity. The world population once again narrowed to just a handful of people one other time when Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives entered the ark (Genesis 7:17-24). Since this instance with the flood and Noah’s family, every inhabitant on the earth today comes back to this specific time when there were only eight inhabitants alive—before that Adam and Eve.
This first question helps you get in your heart that this other person shares the same human family as you. As such, this other man or woman deserves all the respect and care every other person in the image of God deserves. This past week my daughter Kara and I passed by a church where we observed the devastation of homelessness in a community. Thirteen fellow humans slept alongside and in the nooks and crannies of this particular church building.
As a fellow human, we are to respect this person who is in the image of God (1 Peter 2:17).
Do I see this person as someone who also is in the image of God?
Question Two: Is This Person a Follower of Jesus Christ?
All of humanity falls into one of two categories: saved or unsaved, follower of Christ or not a follower of Christ, a believer in the true sense of the word or not a believer (cf. John 3:14-21). As we observe those in need of care, we recognize that these individuals not only are fellow image bearers, but also either fall in the category of a fellow follower or not.
Although we are for everyone, when someone also follows Christ, the Bible calls on every other member of the family of God to help provide care for this person (1 Peter 2:17). Specifically, followers of Christ should love other followers of Christ. Respect all people—love the brotherhood.
Ultimately then, the answer to this question provides three avenues of focus. Once you realize you are observing a fellow follower of Jesus Christ, then you also know three other principles in the Bible apply to this situation:
- First, this person who is in Christ falls under three identities: saint, sufferer, and sinner. He or she is a saint because God declares all those who follow Christ as saints (Romans 1:7), a fellow sufferer since they share the same human condition on earth waiting for a future redemption (Romans 8:22), and sinner since all people are born sinners (Romans 3:23).
- Second, this person deserves treatment as a fellow follower of God in Christ—love (1 Peter 2:17). Individuals do not have to do something to deserve our love; we are compelled by the Bible to already love them because of their identity with God through Christ.
- Third, this person falls under the one-another commands in Scripture which direct our care for others who follow Christ.
Question Three: Is This Person Attending Your Church?
The focus of care begins to really shift as you ask the third question, “Does this person attend your church?” If this person does, then you have all the benefits and forces of the local church to potentially help you provide care for this person. When churches martial their efforts together as one, much care can be shared with many.
As an attender at your church, there will be others who can help you begin to provide care. Each church and each scenario are different; however, you know at least that you are not alone in striving to provide care for this other person.
If the person attends your church, then the one-another passages begin to really get more pointed in their response. You have a context from within which you can begin to serve well.
Question Four: Is This Person a Member of Your Local Church?
If this person attends your church, another question to consider is, “Is this person also a member of this local church?” If so, then we understand that we have an even greater responsibility toward this individual. The Bible teaches that as a member of the body of Christ—which is seen in its greatest density as a member of the local church—when one person has a need, the entire body has a need (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
Furthermore, as a member of the local church together, we now also both fit in the context and structure of the same local church with its members, member care, and member responsibilities (Matthew 18:15-35). As such, we each share the responsibilities to help each other with this understanding.
Exciting news in this scenario is the fact that we also have all the other members of this local church to help alongside us as well.
Question Five: Is This Person Experiencing Any Extenuating Circumstances?
The fifth question relates to special needs of this individual as part of the membership of a local church. Does this person need medical care? Financial assistance? Protection? Physical help? Emotional support? Spiritual help?
This question help provide specific focus to how we need to lovingly serve this person, in this situation, right now (1 Peter 4:7-11).
- Do we need to pray? What do we need to pray?
- How do we need to demonstrate hospitality?
- What does creative love look like to this individual?
- What do the words and actions of Jesus sound like and look like in this specific situation?
Rejoice That You Can Do Something
In the most basic basis, as a fellow human, you share identity with this other person in the image of God. That alone is enough to begin to care in your heart for the needs of this other person. In a world full of so many needs, we also must determine the level to which we are required to help. In most instances, there is more that we should do than just simply care.
We should be known not just for our care, but also for our determination to help those around us in need of our care.
Helping others flows from the heart of the one who loves Jesus and chooses to see as others as He does. May we each serve others well.