Deacons need to keep an eye on their members, looking out for the most vulnerable—those who are poor, sick, elderly, fatherless and widowed—so that none fall between the cracks. Deacons should not stop at feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and rescuing the oppressed in their midst. They need to use the church’s spiritual and material resources and alleviate any members’ poverty so that these brothers and sisters can function and be able to help others in the church’s body of believers.
In Ephesians 4:28 the apostle Paul indicates that one of the benefits of working and earning a living is to help those in need: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” The Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What does God require of you in the eighth commandment?” It answers, “That I further my neighbor’s profit wherever I can or may. . . and labor faithfully that I may be able to relieve the needy.”
Willa Mae had become a Christian in prison. When she reentered society, she had no material or financial resources. As she was part of our fellowship, we paid her rent and provided her with a bus and train pass over a two-year period until she was able to sustain herself. Without this help, Willa Mae would have sunk deeper into financial poverty and poverty of the spirit.
The apostle Paul commands that we use our gifts for the benefit of others and God’s honor and glory—because the gifts are His and on loan to us. 1 Corinthians 4: 2 states, “It is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” So, as faithful servants, deacons must assure that the available spiritual gifts and skills of the congregation are used wisely for the glory of God and the benefit of others.
How are you laboring faithfully to relieve the needy?