Caring for Those in Need

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:1-7
 
If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.
Deuteronomy 15:7
 
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:9-10
It can be easy for us to miss the obvious in this passage in Acts 6. These verses tell us that care of those in need was a high priority for the early church.

This was not a new priority for God’s people. Indeed, right the way through the Bible we can see it is God’s consistent desire and design that his people should care for those in need in their community. Care for the poor, downtrodden and oppressed is fundamental to God’s character, and it is something he develops in his people too. In these verses the early church is responding to a specific need to fulfil a timeless command.

So, how should we care for those in need in our church family? Though there are many answers to this question, there is space here to highlight just two.  

Firstly, through our Life Groups. Life Groups at Everyday Church are designed to be spaces where we can experience the same friendship, care and coaching that Jesus provided for his initial group of twelve disciples. It is through these small groups that we can gain access to the Church Family Fund. This fund was set up to help support those in finance need who are part of our community. We believe that passages like Galatians 6:9-10 give a biblical mandate to pay special attention to those who are struggling within our own church family. If you are part of one of our Life Groups you can ask your Life Group Leader for more information about the Church Family Fund. Or, if you’re not yet part of one of these groups, you can find out more about our Life Groups here: everyday.org.uk/life-groups

But, secondly, this is not something we can just delegate to an official or strategic church wide response. We should keep looking out for ways that we can support those who are struggling in our church community. The outworking of this mandate is often unseen as people reach out to care for one another across the church. So let us continue to proactively look for ways to care for those in need.
1)   Do you give your money to those who are less fortunate than you?

2)   Do you use any of your time to practically care for those in your church or community?

3)   Is there someone you know who is struggling? What could you do to show your love for that individual today?
Lord Jesus, you came to give honour to the least, those forgotten and overlooked. You came to give first place to the last, those left behind, misunderstood and undervalued. You came to give a warm welcome to the lost, those who are orphaned, abandoned and destitute. Help me to be your ears to listen to their cries. Help me to be your voice speaking out love and acceptance. Help me to be your feet walking beside those in need. Help me to be your hands to clothe, feed and shelter them. Give me your generous heart for those in need around me. In your name I prayer, Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Andy Tuck, who supports AFC Bournemouth.

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