A coworker who regularly wears designer clothes and drives a Jaguar asks you to lend him money to help him pay some unexpected medical bills from an emergency operation. Your sister and brother-in-law ask you to babysit their notoriously misbehaved kids without any notice when you have other plans so they can attend a weekend retreat for couples with marital problems.

When people ask you for help, you could resent their requests if they don't seem to deserve it, or if they simply irritate you. But God can give you genuine love for people in need that will fuel the compassion necessary to serve others as He leads.

Here are some ways you can deepen your love for people who need your help:

  • Ask God to help you see needy people from His perspective. Know that everyone has great worth and dignity because they are made in God's image.

  • Be humble. Realize that you've made some poor choices in life, just as everyone has at some time. Thank God that He loves you despite your mistakes, and understand that poor decisions don't disqualify anyone from receiving His love.

  • Be patient. Expect people to change gradually, since change is a process that often takes a great deal of time. Know that God wants each person to keep growing toward his or her fullest potential. Ask God to help you see great potential in each person you encounter.

  • Remember what it felt like to be in need whenever you were going through tough time yourself. If someone helped you, recall how much of a blessing that was in your life.

  • Be available for God to use you, and regularly listen for Him to speak to you about someone He wants you to help. Be flexible, willing to sacrifice time or energy where necessary. Get more excited about participating in God's work in the world than about following your own agendas.

  • Don't let fear stop you. Know that God will never ask you to do what you cannot do; He will always supply the power you need. Ask Him for courage. When you help others, don't attempt to do more than God is calling you to do. Set proper boundaries to keep your relationships healthy.

  • Ask God to reveal any prejudices against any specific types of people that you might be harboring in your heart without realizing it. Then confess wrong attitudes and ask for grace to change.

Adapted from A Patchwork Heart: Deepening Your Love for Others, copyright 2002 by Kim Moore and Pam Mellskog. Published by NavPress, Colorado Springs, Co., www.navpress.com. For copies of the book, call 1-800-366-7788.

Kim Moore is creative arts director of Canton Community Church and is on the teaching staff of Speak Up with Confidence seminars. She is also a speaker, vocal artist and worship leader who travels the United States and abroad. She and her husband, Eric, live in Plymouth, Mich., with their three children, Lincoln, Brittany, and Hunter. Pam Mellskog launched her freelance writing career in 1991 by creating radio jingles. She contributed to the book Divine Appointments and has written for various Christian magazines. She resides in Boulder, Co.

When someone asked for your help recently, how did you respond? Did you feel resentful or genuinely glad to help, and why? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.