Part VIII of our series on Ransoming the Captive
Look back at the Works of Mercy you’ve undertaken in Jesus’ name this year and ask about those to whom you have given yourself: Have your gifts, given in Christ’s name, been used by God to set them free?
- To those with whom you shared bread, are they still in bondage?
- And those to whom you opened your homes, are they yet captives?
- What about those you visited? Free or captive?
- Those you healed and comforted in Jesus’ name: Are they free or captive today?
- Those to whom you proclaimed the gospel, those you forgave, those you are discipling: Free or captive in Jesus’ name?
The Work of Mercy of ransoming the captive reminds us that we are called to something more than doing nice things for other people when the occasion arises.
We are called to love people for a lifetime by laying down our own lives for them. By drawing on the love of God to do more than cheer them up or walk alongside them for a day. Ransoming captives means staying with people long enough and getting to know them well enough and giving as much of ourselves as is necessary often enough so that we can see them set free in Jesus’ name. In spirit, soul, and body.
Maybe you don’t know anyone who is being held captive for their faith. But let me ask you this: What kinds of captivity did you see as you performed the Works of Mercy on others in Jesus’ name throughout this year? And did you stay with those people long enough, and were you willing to allow Christ to use you enough, that you could be his instrument in seeing them truly set free, in spirit, soul, and body?
Think back to The Ransom Church in Sioux Falls that I’ve been picking on all month long (God bless ‘em!). When you pay 50 cents per gallon of gas for all the motorists who stop by the gas station that day, you’ve done a nice thing. But when those motorists drive away, how many of them are still in bondage? And to what are they in bondage? Do we even know? And do we really want to know? Do we even ask?Are we prepared to find out, and to give more than 50 cents a gallon to see them delivered in Christ’s name?
Now it’s possible to say, “Yes, the 50 cents a gallon gift is just a way to get to know them. That’s not intended to be the only thing we do to help set them free.” Good! So what comes next, then? What is the plan? Invite them to church? Teach them financial management? Give them an encouraging message every week? Set up a support group to help them stop drinking?
None of these are bad things. But Christ did more than teach us and encourage us and set up a support group for us. He laid down his life for us. He made an eternal commitment to us. As you’ve carried out your Works of Mercy this year, have you begun to love anyone else so deeply that you’re willing to make the kind of commitment to them in Jesus’ name that he made to you?
Remember, Christ didn’t make a commitment to support your sinful lifestyle. So don’t go getting the idea that ransoming the captive means giving them money and letting them sleep on your couch when they get drunk or bailing them out of trouble every time their sinfulness and stupidity plunges them deeper into it. That’s not how Christ ransomed you, and it’s not how you should mirror his ransoming to others.
Do you know how much divine thought went into ransoming you effectively? Scripture calls this plan of ransom the wisdom of God. It’s not something he came up with while driving to work one day!
So how much thought and time are you putting into the question of how God can use you in his work of really, genuinely ransoming people from all the captivity they are facing? Are the Works of Mercy you are doing leading you deeper into lifetime love for others…or are they just random acts of kindness for you?