That is why the inspired writer, James, was instructed to write the only time when the word "religion" is used with reference to the faith in direct connection with a command to assist the fatherless and the widows in their trouble (James 1:27). It wasn't because we are to have a false sense of benevolence in the eyes of the community or even ourselves. No, it was because Christians make a difference in a physical way in the lives of the hurting and downtrodden and, by doing so, effect the spirituality of those people through encouraging them to seek out the Truth or reassuring them that the brethren love them!
"Christians make a difference in a physical way in the lives of the hurting and downtrodden and, by doing so, effect the spirituality of those people through encouraging them to seek out the Truth"
Let me speak bluntly for a moment. Many times, brethren pride themselves, and I suppose rightly so, for sending benevolent funds or some other type of assistance to another area, even overseas, to help the needy and lost - but it is often all to the neglect of those in their own back yard! Whether it is by way of a food pantry, counseling services, clothing giveaways or any other means by which we show the community we love them and want to help them the people in our direct vicinity ought to be on the forefront of our minds at all time.
While Paul was going about in his missionary journeys gathering funds for the needy saints in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25), he was also worried about those around him and in the area of the specific congregations (cf. Acts 20:32-35).
So, here's the question. What have YOU done lately to impact, in a positive way, the needy of your community? I realize that overseas benevolence and evangelism is very important, but so is local evangelism and benevolence. When was the last time YOU, not the congregation as a whole, tried to encourage your neighbors?
Remember, it's great to send clothes to the children's home a few hours away, but there are probably children in your area in need of clothing too. It's great to send funds for storm relief or some other type of good work to the state a few hundred miles away, but we should never neglect the members of our community that just had a tree fall on their house or a fire consume their belongings.
Never give up "foreign" benevolence or evangelism, just never give up local benevolence and evangelism to be able to say, "Our congregation helped so-and-so on the other side of the world" in your bulletin or in the weekly announcements.
If you moved or the church in your area ceased meeting,
would anyone know?