Self-preservation is a human instinct. We are wired to take whatever steps seem necessary to ensure our own survival. This is why store shelves have very little toilet paper, non-perishable food, and medicine in stock.
Disaster preparation is a good thing, however, we must not confuse responsible preparation with fear-based selfishness. Hoarding many months of supplies or price-gouging others, especially those in need, is not resourcefulness — it is sin.
In Luke 3, John the Baptist is traveling around the Jordan area, calling people to ask forgiveness of their sins and to leave their wickedness behind. Verses 7 and 8 say: “When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, ‘You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God’” (NLT). This is the Baptist’s call to faith and godly living.
John’s listeners are so far from God that they’re not even sure what godly living looks like, so he clarifies for them. “The crowds asked, ‘What should we do?’ John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.’ Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Collect no more taxes than the government requires’” (verses 10–13).
This current worldwide coronavirus disease pandemic is not the time for Christians to haughtily spout (often misapplied or incorrect interpretations of) Bible prophecy that builds fear in unbelievers. Instead, it is the time to quietly give our shirts to the poor and our food to the hungry. We must live out Romans 13 by abiding by the regulations of governing authorities (verses 1–7) and by loving our neighbors (verses 8–10).
What does this look like during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond? With care to their health and yours, reach out to elderly and disabled friends and neighbors and offer to share toilet paper or to grocery shop for them. Encourage local grocery stores to implement seniors-only shopping hours. Bake bread or cook a pot of beans for those who find the store shelves empty or their livelihoods disrupted. Sew baby wipes and diapers for overwhelmed moms. Facetime or Skype with those who may be lonely. Provide childcare for those whose schools have closed but the parents still have to work.
You can also volunteer with organizations such as Meals on Wheels, donate money to charities that are providing resources during the crisis, deliver extra food to the local food bank, give blood, and so on. If your church doesn’t already have one, consider spearheading an initiative to collect funds and supplies to help members directly affected by the virus via job loss, illness, etc.
Above all, be kind. Smile. Share. Hold the door (with your foot, of course). God is still in control.
— Alicia J. Adams is director of marketing for Pacific Press Publishing Association.