“You’re only helping that person so you can tell them about Jesus!”
Is this a genuine concern? If even part of our motivation in serving others is to preach the gospel, does that make it wrong?
As always, let’s look at the scriptures:
“But when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
In this passage, Jesus is moved with compassion for two reasons. First, He noticed their physical condition. They were weary and scattered. The NLT uses the words “confused and helpless” to describe their condition. Jesus certainly was aware of their problems, and wanted to free them of their distress.
Secondly, Jesus was concerned because of their spiritual condition. They were like sheep having no shepherd. They weren’t a part of God’s flock (John 10). They were separated from God (Eph. 2). And not only that, but Jesus identified that the reason they were weary and scattered was because of their spiritual condition. In other words, their utter separation from God resulted in their physical plight.
In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, they died spiritually, which led to death in every area of life. Separation from God resulted in all sorts of bad stuff, including sin, sickness, poverty, and strife. And we can work hard to battle sin, sickness, and poverty, but at the end of the day, all that is doing is attacking the symptoms rather than the source. Spiritual death is the problem; everything else is just a side effect.
That’s why Jesus said to John’s disciples,
“The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5)
Jesus offers help to people in need, but ultimately, He offers the gospel to them, because the gospel is what will actually fix their problems.
Is it wrong to help people in order to spread the gospel? Certainly not! If you’re not preaching the gospel, you’re not really helping. You’re just covering up a wound that’ll get worse and worse.
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