I. Do we see and understand the needs of others? We say that we have a love for God, for our fellow believers and for the lost: but do we really love them?
A. Romans 12:9 "Let love is without dissimulation." "Let love be genuine."
B. There is a story of a Hassidic rabbi, renowned for his piety. He was unexpectedly confronted one day by one of his devoted youthful disciples. In a burst of feeling, the young disciple exclaimed, "My master, I love you!" The ancient teacher looked up from his books as asked his fervent disciple, "Do you know what hurts me, my son?" The young man was puzzled. Composing him, he stuttered, "I don’t understand your question, Rabbi. I am trying to tell you how much you mean to me, and you confuse me with irrelevant questions". "My question is neither confusing nor irrelevant," retorted the rabbi. "For if you do not know what hurts me, how can you truly love me?"
C. Do we see those who are hurting physically?
1. Are we aware of those who within our sphere are in constant physical pain? People who have debilitating illnesses or conditions (cancer, heart problems, diabetes, etc.)?
2. Are we aware of those who because of physical limitations cannot do the things that you and I can? (the shut-in who cannot attend church, shop at the store, work around their own home)
3. Consider the plight of the paraplegic man that Christ encountered at the pool of Bethesda in John 5. "The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, other steps down before me." (John 5:7)
4. Are we aware of those who are alienated from the mainstream of society having diseases that socially and/or morally unacceptable? There are
1. Statistics state that one in four Americans face some form of psychological or mental challenge.
2. Are we aware of the special needs of these special individuals? (The need to be accepted, to be patiently borne with, to have the opportunity to use what talents they do have)
3. Are we aware of those who have mental/ physical addictions?
a. Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem in society and affects all--rich and poor; young-old; educated and uneducated; and the Christian and non-Christian.
E. Do we see those who are hurting emotionally?
1. What about the hurt in the home?
a. "Look at the condition of marriage within the context of today’s Christian homes and churches. The staggeringly high divorce rate is almost the same among believers as among unbelievers."
b. More children are being raised today in single parent households than those having both parents in the home are are.
c. Six out of ten couples will experience some form of violence in their marriage.
d. In the U.S. there is a woman battered every nine seconds. (more than 400 during this service)
e. There are more than one million cases of child abuse in America every year.
2. What about the lonely?
a. My soul is a dark ploughed field
In the cold rain;
My soul is a broken field
Ploughed by pain. - Sara Teasdale (1884-1933).
b. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910- ) - Loneliness and the feeling of being uncared for and unwanted are the greatest poverty.
c. A few years ago, the press carried a heartrending story of a young father who shot himself in a tavern telephone booth. James Lee had called a Chicago newspaper and told a reporter he had sent the paper a manila envelope outlining his story. The reporter frantically tried to trace the call, but was too late. When the police arrived, the young man was slumped in the booth with a bullet through his head. In his pockets, they found a child’s crayon drawing, much folded and worn. On it was written, "Please leave in my coat pocket. I want to have it buried with me." The drawing was signed in childish print by his daughter, Shirley Lee, who had perished in a fire just five months before. Lee was so grief-stricken he had asked total strangers to attend his daughter’s funeral so she would have a nice service. He said there was no family to attend, since Shirley’s mother had been dead since the child was two. Speaking to the reporter before his death, the heartbroken father said that all he had in life was gone and he felt so alone. He gave his modest estate to the church Shirley had attended and said, "Maybe in ten or twenty years, someone will see one of the plaques and wonder who Shirley Ellen Lee was and say, ’Someone must have loved her very, very much."’ The grieving father could not stand loneliness or the loss so he took his own life. He felt it better to be dead than live in an impersonal world. How many James Lees are there in this world? They do not wear signs saying, "I’m lonely--will you help me?" Let us discover these in His name.
d. Many are lonely as the result of the loss of a loved one, marital dissolution, relocation, introversion, and some just the want of a friend.
e. Essentially loneliness is the knowledge that one’s fellow human beings are incapable of understanding one’s condition and therefore are incapable of bringing the help most needed.
F. And what about those who live troubled lives?
1. Do we look beyond their faults and see their need? When we look at them what do we see?
2. When we look at the alcoholic, the person caught up in the sin of a homosexual life style, the drug addict, those with eating disorders, the convict and the ex-convict, the rebellious do we see lost souls or social castoffs.
II. Do we have an empathetic uneasiness about the needs of others? Does their plight disturb us?
A. We must never minimize the suffering of another.
B. We need people who, as a part of their responsibility in life, will carry the burdens and wounds of other people and be outraged by them.
C. Hebrews 13:3 "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being you also in the body."
D. Proverbs 21:13 "Who so stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard."
E. Luke 6:36 "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."
III. Are we willing to show that we care?
A. By our Communication
1. If you truly care, you should tell that in need so!
2. It is not for us to assume that others know we love and appreciate them!
3. Make it a point to go out of your way to say, "I love you and I care about you!
4. Philippians 1:7 "Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace."
B. By our Action
1. James 2:15-17 "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
2. To feel sorry for the needy is not the mark of a Christian--to help them is.
3. Love talked about is easily turned down, but love demonstrated is irresistible.
4. I once read about an elderly Christian woman who had lived all alone. Partly crippled, she had to rely primarily on the good will and help of her neighbors. She spent some of her weary hours keeping a diary, although no one knew why; for she had precious little to record. Finally, the Lord called her to himself to enjoy the blessings of His better Land. It is reported that she lay dead for several days before anyone missed her! In looking through her few belongings, someone discovered her diary. Most of the book contained nothing of interest. In fact, near the end of her life, as one monotonous day followed another, she wrote only three pathetic words of page after page: No one came! NO ONE CAME!
5. James 1:27 "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
6. A good way to forget your troubles is to help others out of theirs.
C. By our Readiness
1. Romans 15:1-2 "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification."
2. Galatians 6:2 "Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
3. Titus 3:1 "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,"
4. It is not our responsibility to shift the blame but to step up and volunteer.
D. By our Evangelism
1. One Mercedes Benz TV commercial shows their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety test. Someone then asks the company spokesperson why they do not enforce their patent on the Mercedes Benz energy-absorbing car body, a design evidently copied by other companies because of its success. He replies mater-of-factly, "Because some things in life are too important not to share." How true. In that category also falls the gospel of salvation, which saves people from far more than auto collisions.
2. 2 Corinthians 4:3 "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:"
3. Jude 1:23 "And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."
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