What is mercy ministry? For my purposes in this post it is primarily meeting someone’s physical needs whether those needs are immediate and temporary or more long term. This list is not comprehensive.
1. There can be no mercy ministry without understanding the mercy Christ has shown to us in His death. Martin Luther’s last recorded words were, “We are all beggars, this is true.” We must understand this if we are to do mercy ministry well. None of us deserve the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, much less the salvation freely given to us by our Savior. Without this foundation our mercy ministry will be a sham. It will driven by guilt, pride, or our weak attempt to manipulate others. But when we understand Christ’s mercy shown to us beggars then we give freely, generously, and graciously.
2. Mercy ministry is not the job of the deacons. It is the job of the church. Deacons are facilitators and they take care of more dramatic needs as well as needs that stretch out over time. But mercy ministry is for the whole church. If a church ordains deacons so they might do mercy ministry while the congregation watches that is a guarantee that mercy ministry will not happen.
3. Physical needs matter. Whether or not someone has food or clothing matters. If someone cannot make a house payment that should concern us. There are hundreds of verses in the OT talking about the poor, needy, weak, widows, and orphans. We tend to view physical needs in a different category from spiritual needs. But God loves our bodies. One day he will resurrect the bodies of believers to glory. His Son took on a body. Helping the poor is not preaching the gospel. But it is a consequence of preaching the gospel and those who claim to believe the gospel and don’t help those in need are lying (I John 3:16-18). Continue reading