Helping Those In Need

The second most important commandment

HOW FAR would you go to help a friend, a neighbor, or even someone you don’t know who is in dire need of assistance? Undoubtedly, varied are the ways to show one’s concern for the poor, the marginalized, and those struggling in life. As members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), it is our Christian duty to demonstrate our love and compassion to someone in need for God to abide in us (I John 3:17).

 

Loving our fellowmen

The Bible, in no uncertain terms, makes clear that the most important commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, strength and soul (Mark 12:28-30). For this reason, we joined the Church Of Christ because we truly believe that it is only in this Church where we can render proper reverence, service, and worship of God. In having done so we will receive salvation on Judgment Day.

Moreover, to ensure our salvation, our Lord Jesus Christ taught the second most important commandment that we should fulfill:

“The second most important commandment says: ‘Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these. The man replied, ‘Teacher, you are certainly right to say there is only one God. It is also true that we must love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and that we must love others as much as we love ourselves. These commandments are more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that we could possibly make.” When Jesus saw that the man had given a sensible answer, he told him, ‘You are not far from God’s kingdom.’ After this, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions.” (Mark 12:31-34 Contemporary English Version)

Hence, according to Christ, loving our fellowmen is the second most important commandment. As Christ’s servants, such genuine and altruistic love must be manifested in our lives—it is something we should not avoid doing.

 

Manifestations of love for humanity

We can show such love for our fellowmen, especially the needy and impoverished, by doing humanitarian work. This is the reason the present Church Administration encourages us to be mindful of the plight of many less fortunate people who need help, sharing or giving material resources as much as we can or extending varied expressions of charity. This in accordance with Christ’s teaching as elucidated in His parable about the Good Samaritan, thus:

“A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to receive eternal life?’ Jesus answered him, ‘What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?’ The man answered, “Love the Lord our God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind”; and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.’ ‘You are right,’ Jesus replied; ‘do this and you will live.’ But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor? Jesus answered ‘There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Take care of him,” he told the innkeeper, “and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him”.’ And Jesus concluded, ‘In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?’ The teacher of the Law answered, ‘The one who was kind to him.’ Jesus replied, ‘You go, then, and do the same’.” (Luke 10:25-37 Good News Bible)

The Church Of Christ today remains unwavering in its commitment to our destitute and disadvantaged fellowmen, in fulfilment of Christ’s mandate. This was recently highlighted by its walk-for-a-cause campaign, the Worldwide Walk to Fight Poverty. It aimed to raise awareness of the miserable condition of millions of our fellowmen gripped by abject poverty and to help them alleviate their sorrow and suffering. This and other charitable acts and projects initiated by the Church worldwide are made more significant in the light of unusual catastrophes, disasters, and tragedies that continue to occur on a daily basis. Indeed, there is no end in sight to extraordinary occurrences affecting many people today that call for each off us to prove our concern and compassion for others for the good of humanity.

 

Biblical precedents

God’s early servants fulfilled His commandment to love and help their fellowmen. Job helped the poor, the orphans, and the widows (Job 29:12-13). Apostle Paul showed his charitable act by bringing “contributions of charity and offerings” (Acts 24:17 Amplified Bible). In addition, a disciple of Christ named Tabitha was “rich in acts of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36 AMP2015).

Presently, the Church Of Christ, under the leadership of its Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, continues to extend its help across the globe to the poor and needy, members and nonmembers alike, through acts of benevolence and generosity especially to the victims of disasters and calamities.

 

The blessings

Those who help the needy and are concerned about the poor—not withholding their love for fellowmen especially when they have the means to do so—are not on the losing end because God lays I store His blessings for them:

“ … You must never have bad thoughts about a person that needs help. You must not refuse to help him. If you don’t help that poor person, then he will complain to the Lord against you. And the Lord will find you guilty of sin. Give the poor person all that you can. Don’t feel bad about giving to him. Why? Because the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you do.” (Deut. 15:9-10 Easy-to-Read Version)

“Happy are those who are concerned for the poor; the LORD will help them when they are in trouble. The LORD will protect them and preserve their lives; he will make them happy in the land; he will not abandon the to the power of their enemies. The LORD will help them when they are sick and will restore them to health.” (Ps. 41:1-3 GNB)

Above all, eternal life will be received by God’s servants who obey His commandment taught by Christ to care for the needs of others, especially the poor. The Bible made this very clear:

“Once a man came to Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me concerning what is good?’ answered Jesus. ‘There is only One who is good. Keep the commandments if you want to enter life.’ ‘What commandments?’ he asked. Jesus answered, ‘Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; respect your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ‘I have obeyed all these commandments,’ the young man replied. ‘What else do I need to do?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me’.” (Matt 19:16-21 GNB)

by ROLAND A. AGUIRRE

A dad who makes a difference

A father has to work hard to provide his family with all the things they need to survive and, hopefully, thrive in this harsh world. It is tough being a father; a father must always make sure that everyone at home has enough food to eat and clothes to wear, and provides his wife and children with a decent and stable home. He also has to insure that all his children get the best education they can to help them have a bright and prosperous future. A good father does more than those things.

A good dad provides for the spiritual needs

Though it is important to make sure that our children have all the material things they need in this life to live comfortably, we should realize that is not the only thing that should concern us. As fathers, we have an even greater responsibility to them, and that is to help make sure their spiritual needs are provided for; that they are taught the true religion. That is not a personal opinion; that is what the Holy Scriptures teaches:

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with loving kindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4 Amplified 2015)

The apostles advise the fathers inside the true Church Of Christ that they are to bring up or raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. As fathers, we are not to let our children  grow up without any meaningful parental guidance or instruction. Though there are plenty of books and videos out there on the subject of raising kids, what we should take and hold on to as the ultimate guide or final authority in raising our children are the teachings and instructions of the Lord God, recorded in the Holy Scriptures (III Tim. 3:15-17). If ever the advice offered in a parenting book, video, or online post contradicts the sound or solid advice in the Holy Scriptures, we should choose to—without any hesitation or mental reservation whatsoever—follow and implement what the Scriptures say, for that is surely the right thing to do. A father will not go wrong if he sticks to or does what the Bible says is right.

       We should teach our children the laws of God, as fathers, not only once in a while or when the mood strikes us. We should do this consistently or on a regular basis, at all opportune times:

      “You and your descendants must respect the LORD your God as long as you live. You must obey all His laws and commands that I give you today. Be sure to teach them to your children. Talk about these commands when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road. Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:2, 6-7, Easy-To-Read Version)

We should realize, however, that our duty as fathers or parents is not done by simply telling our children what to do or by teaching them God’s will. We should be considerate and understanding with our children, and help them to know and understand the will of God. Be a patient and gentle teacher (II Tim. 2:24-25; I Thess. 2:11-12). We should also supervise or monitor their activities to make sure they are living the right way, that they are upholding a way of life that is consistent with the gospel of God.

Parents are to supervise the activities of the members of their family. We should ask ourselves: Are we doing this? Are we aware who their friends are and the people they hang out with? Is everyone living a lifestyle that conforms to God’s will or teachings? If not, what actions do we take to help them back on the right track? Parental instruction and supervision is vital for the happiness of the family within God’s nation. As dads, we must make sure that such instruction and supervision is done.

 

A good dad upholds biblical principles

The kind of leadership that, we fathers, provide within our home should be one that is firmly based on sound principles. The principles we uphold are a reflection of the things that matter most to us. For members of the Church Of Christ, the nation of God in the Christian era, a principle that they uphold and instill in their children is that—they will serve God. This is what God’s servant, Joshua, a family man himself, declared:

“But if you don’t want to worship the LORD, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!” (Joshua 24:15, Contemporary English Version)

Joshua said these words when he, as the leader of God’s people, challenged the Israelites to make up their minds about whom they were going to serve: the false gods that others had served before them, or the true God? For this father, his mind was already made up. He led his family in deciding to stand on God’s side and serve only Him. He declared with conviction, “My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!” That principle is what we, as fathers of the Church Of Christ, want to uphold in our life, no matter how turbulent at times life may be; we are ready and willing to lead our wife and children in serving the one true God forever, even if it involves making sacrifices on our part.

To help encourage and convince our family to stand with us in upholding that principle, we should be willing to take the time to relate to them the wonderful things that God has done for us, our family, and the entire nation of God. This was instructed to parents in God’s nation before:

“You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well. …And what makes us greater than other nations? We have God who is close to us and answers our prayers.” (Deut. 4:9, 7, Ibid.)

That is why it is important that we remember the good things that God has done. We are not only talking about the incredible things that God did for His ancient people; we are also talking about the amazing things that He has done for His people today. How greatly has God blessed the Church Of Christ and made it successful in all its endeavors since its establishment in 1914, more than 102 years ago? How wonderfully has He cared for us, the members? This shows how God has been so close to His people. When our children understand this, when they have this firmly embedded in their hearts and minds, it will produce in them an eagerness and enthusiasm to take their stand in the side of serving the one true God. This is what we want to see happen, as good fathers.

It is not enough, though, that our children just know about the one true God. To show that we have taken our stand to serve God we should be filled with determination to lead our wife and children to attend worship services to honor and praise Him for all His goodness.

“The Lord will choose a single place where He is to be worshiped, and there you must bring to Him everything that I have commanded: your sacrifices that are to be burned and your other sacrifices, your tithes and your offerings, and those special gifts that you have promised to the LORD. Be joyful there in His presence, together with your children …” (Deut. 12:11-12, Good News Translation)

Good dads in the Church Of Christ always make sure that all the members of their households are fully dedicated to attending the congregational worship service. They see to it that no matter how busy life gets, everyone in the family regularly attends the worship service, to give glory to the Lord God.

 

A good dad defends his wife and children

A good dad is a protector of his family; he does everything he can to keep them safe. For example, he is ready to defend them from bad people who want to hurt or take advantage of them. But, most of all, he will defend his wife and children from anything that could call them to be turned away from God. This is what the Bible says:

“Make sure that no man, woman, family, or tribe standing here today turns from the LORD our God to worship the gods of other nations. This would be like the root that grows to be a bitter and poisonous plant.” (Deut. 29:18, Ibid.)

What causes people to be turned away or separated from God is sin (Isa. 59:2). So, we want to make sure that no one in our family is doing anything that is sinful in the watchful eyes of the Lord God. We want to help our children cultivate in themselves the ability to refuse (or say no) to do anything evil when people, like friends, try to get them to do it. Solomon, a king and a father himself, told his own child:

“My son, should your less honorable peers pressure you to do what is wrong, you should be strong enough not to go along.” (Prov. 1:10, The Voice)

We want to see our children grow and learn to be able to stand on their own feet. We want them to succeed in getting a good education and a gainful job or career that can provide for their needs and their future families. But, most of all, we want them to be spiritually strong as members of the Church Of Christ. But that will happen only when the true word of God, has found a home in them or lives in them. This is what Apostle John wrote:

“I write to you, young people, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One. Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world—what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of—none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world.” (I John 2:14-16, GNT)

 

A good dad and his family will be blessed

As good fathers who diligently and patiently teach the true religion to our household, who lead our wife and children to live a life of obedience and loyalty to the Lord God, we will see Him bless our entire household. We will enjoy happiness and blessings from God even in this life:

“Happy are those who obey the LORD, who live by His commands. Your work will provide for your needs; you will be happy and prosperous. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine in your home, and your children will be like young olive trees around your table. A man who obeys the LORD will surely be blessed like this.” (Ps. 128:1-4, Ibid.)

But that is not all. For the ultimate happiness or blessing that awaits a family that has been taught the true religion—where the father has done his duty to make sure his family has learned and abides by the true word of God—is the reward of salvation and everlasting life in the Holy City (Rev. 21:1-4, 14).

If we and our whole family have served God loyally all the days of our lives and, thus, make it to the Holy City, then what more can we say? As imperfect and flawed as we are as men, we have done our job as a father and could ask for nothing more. So, let us be the father that God wants us to be.


By JOHNNY J. MARTIN