Great confusion surrounds the question of the role of Christians in meeting the enormous physical needs in this world. Should we try to fill every hungry mouth and cure every painful disease? Jesus’ example and teaching provide clear guidelines.

For one thing, He did not heal all those in Palestine who were afflicted with illness. Nor did He invite everyone in Galilee to dinner, or open a soup kitchen for the poor and hungry.

He healed those who came – or were brought – to Him in faith. He fed those who had left home to pursue Him into the wilderness to receive blessings and teaching from the Master.

In other words, He concentrated upon those who believed in Him and followed Him.

Likewise, in the parable of the sheep and the goats at the end of His ministry (Matthew 25:31-46), He did not say that our final destiny would hang upon whether we fed all the hungry in this world, or gave drink to all who thirst, or took in all strangers, clothed all the naked, or visited all the prisoners.

No. He said very clearly – twice – that “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

In other words, we shall be judged on the basis of our faith in Christ, demonstrated by our love for other believers. “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50).

And what is His will? “This is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23).

Paul put it this way: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). We start with family, and then reach out.