‘Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor?’ Job 30:25
Suggested Further Reading: James 1:26–2:16
Remember a little more the intimate connection between the body and the soul. Go to the poor man and tell him of the bread of heaven, but first give him the bread of earth, for how shall he hear you with a starving body? It seems an idle tale to a poor man, if you talk to him of spiritual things and cruelly refuse him help as to temporals. Sympathy, thus expressed, may be a mighty instrument for good; and even without this, if you are too poor to be able to carry out the pecuniary part of benevolence, a kind word, a look, a sentence or two of sympathy in trouble, a little loving advice, or an exhortation to your neighbour to cast his burden on the Lord, may do much spiritual service. I do not know, but I think if all our church members were full of love, and would always deal kindly, there would be very few hearts that would long hold out, at least from hearing the Word. You ask a person to hear your preacher; but he knows that you are crotchety, short-tempered, illiberal, and he is not likely to think much of the Word, which, as he thinks, has made you what you are; but if, on the other hand, he sees your compassionate spirit, he will first be attracted to you, then next to what you have to say, and then you may lead him as with a thread, and bring him to listen to the truth as it is in Jesus, and who can tell, but thus, through the sympathy of your tender heart, you may be the means of bringing him to Christ.
For meditation: Jesus had compassion on the shepherdless and hungry crowds (Mark 6:34; 8:1–3). His disciples had doubts and wanted to send them away (Mark 6:35–36; 8:4). But it is amazing what God can do with a little willingness on our part (Mark 6:37–44; 8:5–9).
N.B. Due to the failure of the cotton supply, the Lancashire mills had closed, resulting in unemployment and food shortages. Spurgeon was financially supporting one of his former students in his attempts to help those suffering.
Sermon no. 479
9 November (1862)