People are confused about mercy ministry.
For some people, it is basically irrelevant. Any time anyone talks about mercy ministry, in their ears, it sounds as if they are talking about the social gospel. For others, it is supreme. Any time anyone talks of theology and gospel proclamation, in their ears, it seems as if they are hardheartedly ignoring the most pressing needs.
I think the Great Commandments help correct both errors.
If you are going to understand biblical ministries of mercy and compassion, first you must remember that the command to love God comes before the command to love your neighbor. And second you must understand that the command to love God is inextricably connected to the command to love your neighbor.
For me to talk about loving my neighbor without at the same time being serious about loving God is not good. How can I even think I am doing any real good if while I am attempting to do I am doing the greatest evil? There is no sin worse than idolatry and yet when we disconnect love for people from love for God we are in effect idolaters.
What’s more, for me to talk about loving God without at the same time being serious about loving my neighbor is nonsense. How can I ever think I am serious about theology and doctrine if my study of theology and doctrine doesn’t create in me an increasing concern for the needs of people? Love for God expresses itself in obedience to His commandments, and any claims to love God without this wholehearted commitment to obey His commandments, is empty talk.