Kingdom Priorities (Matt. 6:25–34)
Jesus exhorts His listeners not to worry about their lives—about what they will eat or drink, or what clothes they will wear—and gives examples of birds and flowers that are taken care of. How much more will the heavenly Father give them all they need? He knows what we need.
Being immersed in the Word of God and spending time with Him every day will keep us from having compassion fatigue.
Life is about priorities. Not worrying comes with focusing on what is most important—the kingdom of God, which stands for a relationship with God (Matt. 6:33). When we focus on building our relationship with God first and foremost, Jesus promises that God will provide what we need. We may not get everything we want every time, but we will have what we need.
The most important part of helping the needy is pointing them toward the One who provides all we need. When we give things over to God, we are free from nagging thoughts and anxieties about life. Difficulties happen in everyone’s life, but those who prioritize Jesus, claim God’s Word, and call on God for help can trust that He holds it all in His hands and will take care of them. Sometimes we have to wait for circumstances to change as God teaches us about Himself and develops us through the process. Yes, we can be assured that God is working.
Compassion Fatigue (Matt. 7:12; James 2:15, 16)
There are times when we hear about someone’s need and realize that we don’t have compassion for their situation, at least not enough to do anything about it. We can become desensitized to need when we are bombarded by news of tragedies or when they are far enough removed that they don’t directly affect us. If we see a homeless person begging day after day, we can lose the desire to help—we become compassion fatigued.
That is perhaps why Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, stated, “ ‘Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them’ ” (Matt. 7:12, NKJV).
We call it the golden rule. Treating others well is a summary of the main message found in the Bible. In Jesus’ estimation, when we read the Bible properly, we will be impressed to do good deeds.
Thus, being immersed in the Word of God and spending time with Him every day will keep us from having compassion fatigue and inspire us to make a difference for others. James emphasizes that we are not to send someone away when we see a need and just tell them that we will pray for them; instead, we need to act. He ends the passage with “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17, NKJV). He is talking about a practical demonstration of having faith—by our works we show faith.
Generosity (1 John 3:16–18)
The Bible encourages us to give generously. First, John explains what real love is—Jesus laying down His life for us. Then he urges us to do the same for one another (1 John 3:17).
The Greek word kleio means “to close” or “to shut” and is used in the New Testament for doors, gates, or heavens being shut or locked. The image is about the door of our hearts being locked so that we don’t respond to the needs that we see. We may use such excuses as “I have my own bills to pay,” “I have school debts still,” or “we are already doing enough.” This verse does not promote irresponsible giving when the needy person is fiscally reckless, but, rather, it speaks against closing our eyes to another’s need. We may not always give financially; giving of time or other resources may be just as important.
Peacemaking (Matt. 5:9, 21–26, 43–48)
“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9). Doing good deeds includes peacemaking.
Jesus uplifts peacemakers in the Sermon on the Mount and further explains what He means by it through a couple of examples: “be reconciled to your brother” (Matt. 5:24, NKJV) and “love your enemies” (verse 44, NKJV). Reconciliation and asking for forgiveness are important aspects of relationships.
One cannot have a successful marriage without the willingness to forgive and move on when the other person fails to live up to expectations.
In any friendship, people must be willing to forgive. However, Jesus goes beyond peacemaking in friendship when He says that we are to love our enemies and to “agree with [our] adversary” (verse 25). Loving those who love us, Jesus says, everyone does. But as believers, we are to love and bless those who curse us, use us, and persecute us. Jesus ends the passage with “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (verse 48).
Clearly, in the context, Jesus asks us to be perfect in love. We can do that only when we are full of God’s love and understand His love for us.
A Voice for the Voiceless (Prov. 31:8, 9)
Lastly, the Bible exhorts us to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. In Proverbs 31, King Lemuel prods his son, “open your mouth for the speechless” (verse 8, NKJV) and “plead the cause of the poor and needy” (verse 9, NKJV). He doesn’t want his son to overlook the importance of speaking up for those who can’t do it for themselves.
Sometimes they won’t do it for themselves because they either don’t see it making any difference or have never seen anyone standing up for them and don’t expect it or believe that something better is possible. Thus, God calls us to be the voice against injustice and oppression.