Something that our youth group has just started doing is “Operation Andrew”. It is very simple and an excellent way to reach out to others. First: Pray for five friends that do not know Jesus as their savior. Pray for their specific needs and that they will have a hunger for Jesus. Second, look for opportunities to build your friendship through acts of kindness. Third, look for opportunities to tell your friends about Jesus. Finally, get them to a small group, an evangelistic event that is presenting the gospel, or just to come to a church event. Just by doing this, it has made me more aware of the needs of others around me.
In Hosea 6:6, God made a strong statement about his mercy, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” Really what he was saying here is that he wants us to show kindness toward man, especially to the lowly and needy, which especially need it. Throughout Deuteronomy, it speaks of the love that we should have with God. In the gospels, the Pharisees thought that closeness with God came by keeping ceremonial traditions and their list of rules, but this is not what God wanted. God desires love toward one another. The greatest or chief command is to love God with all our heart and the second greatest is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37) If one is truly following God, he would love his brothers and not cause them harm. (See Exodus 20, 1 John 3:10–11) Jesus took “love your neighbor” to a new level. He spoke of it as a radical love. He said that we should love the ones who persecute and abuse you for no reason. (Matt 5:4)
In Matthew nine, Jesus gets off a boat and does many miracles. He heals a paralytic, forgives his sins (which only God can do), He shows his omniscience by “knowing the Pharisees thoughts”, and allows a low life tax collector (Matthew) to become one of his disciples. Right in front of the Pharisees, there were many opportunities for them to show God’s love to needy people. Sadly, they were not interested in showing kindness or concern for the needy, but rather concerned about observing their own list of rules.
The big thing that can get me worked up (and causing me not to love) is seeing or hearing about someone who is being legalistic like the Pharisees. Outwardly, the Pharisees seemed to do the right things by following their rules, but in their hearts, they had no desire to serve God. Loving others is hard, but this world needs to see Christ’s love. His love can be seen as we show kindness, care, and concern to individuals who are struggling in this life. As we live our lives, we need to be sensitive to the Spirits leading, because there are many people out in the world who are hurting and who are looking for someone to love them. Sure it is easier to act like a Pharisee, by looking spiritual on the outside, than it is to love one another, but this is the way God chose, “he desires mercy and not sacrifice”.