Activist Faith

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[Note: This is the third in a three-part series. Part 1 and Part 2 are also available.]

What is the heart of true activism? We’ve looked at six traits Jesus communicated in his Sermon on the Mount. However, there is one final challenge Jesus gives that remains vital for true activism today.

Matthew 6:1-4 shares:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

True activism is not performed for personal benefit. It is dedicated service to God.

In this context, Jesus emphasizes giving to those in need. He does not specify whether the person is homeless or housed, abled or disabled, married or single. The focus is on the need of the person.

Don’t Announce Your Kindness

Today’s activism associates itself with petitions, protests, and publicity. Jesus taught the opposite. Instead, helping those in need often includes not announcing our kindness.

Why not? If we are motivated by our love for God, our reward from him is sufficient. We are not trying to change a law; we are serving to change a life.

Serve Quietly

The other trait Jesus notes is to serve quietly. Mother Teresa was a wonderful example of this quality. She served in one city her entire life. Her work did not include a corporate office or company car. Yet her work became known worldwide. Why? She showed great love without making a lot of noise.

When others noticed, they spread the word. Similar actions took place during the time of Jesus. His healings and teachings were often without a loud pronouncement, allowing those impacted to share the message.

We can serve quietly and still have great influence.

In fact, Jesus also notes two other areas of spirituality in the same chapter that also include a quiet emphasis: prayer and fasting. While no one sees our personal prayers or the times we abandon food to call out to God, he does.

When our burning passion is God and God alone, he can best work in us, through us, and among us to transform others beyond our own abilities. True activism is an overflow of a heart beating for the things of God. We serve others best when we serve God first.


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Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.

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