Peter declared that Jesus, “...went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). The apostle John wrote, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6).
From these two verses one can easily understand that one is to follow the example that was set down by the Lord (cf. I Peter 2:21) and since He “went about doing good,” men also should go about doing good.
How is this to be done? Notice these passages about the things which the Lord did in doing good: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23; cf. 9:35). “And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils” (Mark 1:38-39). “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached” (Luke 7:22).
These verses state that the Lord preached the Gospel and healed the sick and afflicted. He attended to the needs of the spirit and the body. Thus, He cared for the whole man.
God knows that all men require certain things to keep their bodies functioning, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For afterall these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32). Jesus realized the sincere fleshly needs of those that came unto Him and He feed them (Matthew 15:32-38; cf. Matthew 14:15-21).
God also realizes the needs of the sick. In the age of the miraculous [in contrast – we, who live past the first century, do not live in the age of the miraculous (Mark 16:17-20; I Corinthians 13:8-13; et al.)], those with a variety of illnesses and maladies were released from their burdens, such as: “And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:11-16); and, “And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:2-3).
However, the Lord proclaimed that there is a yet another good to be done unto others which is of far greater importance than the mere physical. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness He said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). This statement makes it abundantly clear that the physical has its importance but the spiritual has a greater preeminence. Why? The answer is very simple: every man’s spiritual life and destiny depends upon his reaction to God’s Word. That reaction is either love and obedience or hatred and disobedience. Paul stated the truth of man’s dependency upon God’s Word, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). The Word of God is able to “build you up,” that is – satisfy one’s spiritual needs in this life (obedience to God and fellowship with Him); and to “give you an inheritance,” that is – provide an eternal home with God in Heaven.
God demands that men care for the physical needs of his fellowman (Luke 10:29-37). James stated that one’s care is to be genuine and not feigned, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:14-17). Those with legitimate physical needs are to be cared for when one has the opportunity and ability to help. However, men’s spiritual needs are far greater and should receive the greater attention.
Paul wrote, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). The greatest good anyone can do for another is to preach unto him the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Their eternal lives depend upon it!