Paul tells us in Romans and 1 Corinthians about the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see verses below). God has equipped us through the Holy Spirit to administer to those in the faith, and those outside of the faith, with these gifts. As such, we can, and have the responsibility to, use our spiritual gifts in the application of helping someone in need. I think that he gives each of us at least some small smattering of most of the gifts, but then gives us a hefty dose of others to use for the edification of the faith.
One of the very important gifts of the spirit is that of mercy. What does that gift look like? That’s the gift that enables those gifted with it to be compassionate to others whether that be in attitude or actions. Mercy looks to alleviate the sufferings of others with either spiritual, emotional, and/or practical applications. When I think of the gift of mercy, I think of Mother Teresa. Say whatever you like about her, as I know there are many differing opinions on just how “saintly” she was, but I still think that nearly everyone would agree that she possessed the gift of mercy in a colossal proportion.
How we work out the gift of mercy, will depend upon how God gifts you with mercy. So, how I help someone in need may look very different than how you help someone in need. A while back, my spiritual gifts were identified, and the gift of mercy was at the very bottom of the list. Does that mean that I enjoy watching others suffer? Certainly not! It simply means that there are others out there that are extremely more gifted at dealing with those situations than I am. I am rather like a fish out of water when called into a situation dealing with other people’s suffering. I learned this the hard way with some real life situations – personally, I am simply not good in the area of acting out the gift of mercy in a large way.
So now, I know that since it’s very difficult for me to step in and offer the gift of mercy, it is usually done in a small way. No shame there, it’s part of God’s plan after all. We travel the roads of the USA (sometimes Canada) constantly, that’s our living. As such, we see the conditions that some people live in all over the country. To say that we have a population that needs people to come along side them and help is a tremendous understatement. Our major cities are jam packed with homeless people. Daily we encounter countless people who are forgotten and begging on many street corners. It breaks the heart of both myself and my husband. We cannot help them all, we have helped a few, but we have learned that it has to be with something other than money. One of the last times we were approached was in Atlanta, we heard how this person was traveling and his possessions were stolen, he was attempting to get back home (to be honest, we’ve heard a variation of this story so very many times), he needed money to buy food. Since we have food in our truck, instead of money, we gave him food, healthy things that would fortify him and get him through the evening. Yes, it felt good to bless someone else, and he was thankful.
Since we know that we cannot help everyone that we see, we’ve made a commitment to help in another way. We have some very godly friends that have a big ministry as part of their life. It’s not their career, it’s just what they do on the side. Years ago, God put feeding those who are unable to purchase food on their hearts. They started a 501(c)(3) ministry covering the area where our home is located. Every year they feed hundreds of people, year round, and offer encouragement to those they help. Their impact in the community is significant. I know that they minister in a way that I could never do. That’s where we’ve put our focus, on supporting their ministry, with our support our favorite mercy-givers are fulfilling God’s plan, and we in a small way are helping to bring that about. And, if you are like me with the gift of mercy at the bottom of your list of spiritual gifts then perhaps you can do something similar. Find a ministry that resonates with you along the line of mercy-giving, and offer your support, either financially or even with some hands-on assistance, such as making phone calls, or helping with paperwork, etc. Definitely pray for them, ask God to bless their ministry, and ask Him to show you how you can help. God will answer.
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:4-8, ESV)
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, ESV)