Summary: Consider the role "caring" ministries play in the work of God’s kingdom.
Are there activities in your spiritual life that communicate "caring and concern?" These activities go beyond a verbal witness. These activities give legitimacy to a witness. We see much of this taking place in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. People in those areas will be more open to ministry and evangelistic efforts because of the "caring" activities performed by volunteers. Many volunteers have made a statement for the cause of Christ. Their statement (in action) says "we are doing this ’Because we Care’." What do caring ministries accomplish in the life of a church or believer?
We find a Biblical example of this in Philippians 4. Paul wrote to commend the Philippian believers for their caring support of him. In verse 10 we read "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity." From this chapter in Philippians we learn some vital lessons about caring ministries. Notice three lessons.
1. Caring ministry can be an avenue of ministry. Every man, woman, boy and girl can show they care. You might not be able to teach a class or preach like Billy Graham but you can minister.
A. Jesus defined ministry in Matthew 25. He defined ministry as such things as: giving a cup of cold water, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked or visiting the sick.
B. God is not looking for ability as much as availability. Paul said "it is required in stewards that one be found faithful." (I Cor. 4:2 NKJV)Paul commended the Philippian believers because they were faithful to support his ministry. They were the only church that displayed such faithful support of his ministry during the early days.
2. Caring ministry gives strength to evangelism.
A. Caring ministry gives support to evangelistic efforts. Ministry is similar to the support network of people who equip soldiers who are fighting on the front line. The Philippians helped equip Paul as he worked on the front line sharing the gospel.
B. Caring ministry legitimizes our message. James said "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" (James 2:15-16 NKJV)
3. Caring ministry bears fruit for Christ.
A. There is a two sided argument that often follows this discussion. There are some who would say "if you minister to a person’s physical needs you need not always share a verbal witness." On the other hand there are those who would say "do not use ministry as a cope out for not sharing a verbal witness." I believe all of us could agree: physical ministries need evangelism and evangelism needs physical ministries to bear the ultimate fruit. They are like siamese twins.
B. The important thing is that we are seeking to bear fruit for Christ. Paul instructed the Pilippians "not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account." (Phil. 4:17 NKJV)