Are your “Good Deeds” constructive or destructive?
There can be a fine line between constructive ministry and destructive ministry. Your ministry can prevent others from receiving the blessing God has for them. In ministry I have constantly heard Matthew 25:35-40 preached:
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’…..40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Most people read this scripture and say, “Let’s grab as many clothes, food, drinks, blankets and toiletries, and head out and give it all to the homeless!” Now on the surface this appears to be a noble deed, and the one’s doing it have good intentions, but we must ask ourselves, “Is this constructive or destructive ministry?” Who are the least of these and how to do we help them?
Let’s look at a few other scriptures in the Bible before running out to start ministering with just this scripture.
2 Thessalonians 3:10
10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
This scripture is talking to believers, brothers and sisters, to offer yourselves as a model for others to follow. In verse 3 of this passage it commands us “to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching [they] received from us.” The passage then commands in verse 11 and 12 that those who are “idle and disruptive” “to settle down and earn the food they eat.”
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Your life, time, gifts, energy and strength are God’s pearls. They are His, given to us to oversee and use according to His word. We are not to waste them, like throwing pearls to pigs. We are to use discernment, wisdom and knowledge with God’s pearls and ensure they are not wasted or contaminated.
God sometimes allows us to become poor, naked and hungry, so we have to humble ourselves and crawl back to Him. In the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), the man’s son “longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.” It wasn’t until he had enough and “he came to his senses, [that] he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”
Now, if you have read this and are saying to yourself, “this guy doesn’t believe in feeding the homeless.” You are wrong. I believe in reaching out to people and doing what it takes to draw them in, but it’s what you do with your time, gifts, and resources that matters. If others begin to rely on YOUR ability to feed, clothe, and shelter them, then you are preventing them from relying on God and how HE chooses to supply those needs, which could mean at the work on their own hands. Jesus told Peter before going to the cross in Matthew 16:23 “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Be careful to not be a stumbling block in someone’s path, that your ministry becomes discredited (2 Corinthians 6:3).
SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Here is a simple concept, you don’t have to stop doing what you have been doing, just change your tactics. Your goal should be to personally know the people you are ministering to. No more lines of 300 people waiting to get their FREE food and clothes. No more giving them hand outs, saying a quick prayer and going “next?” True affective, sustainable ministry was not intended to be like a McDonald’s Drive through, fast and efficient. It is about building relationships and being affective. If you have been feeding the same person for over 10 years and there has been no change in their life, what good have you truly done. Build a personal relationship, learn about their problems, and help them work towards a life God has called them to live. ”Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
Lastly, one of the hardest things you can ever do in ministry is show tough love. When I was a child my father would tell me not to do many things…somethings I just had to try on my own. My father allowed me to suffer my consequences so that I may learn from my mistakes. It will be hard to say “No.” Pray for wisdom and knowledge on how to help the lives that have been placed in your path. Ministries have been shooting at problems with blind folds on in a dark room. The light has been turned on, take the blind fold off your eyes and start aiming your ministry so you will begin to see God’s hands truly at work.
Just STOP being a stumbling block and start being a stepping stone….and always CHECK YOURSELF!