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He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

The words of the popular 1969 song “He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother” remind us of the admonition of John Wesley to his supporters that those who are justified and reborn in Christ, should have the same love and affection towards their neighbors that they have for God. Moreover, this love should be expressed not only be in words but also in deeds[1]. The Gospel passage of Matthew 25:40-45 also reminds us of the importance of assisting individuals within our community who are in need. The question is how does one effectively and intentionally assist the disadvantaged and destitute of society?

Thankfully, the solution is quite straightforward. The answer involves actively engaging in what we call the “Means of Grace”. So, what exactly are these so-called means of grace? Well, John Wesley describes them simply as, defined outward signs, words, and actions ordained by God. Explicitly, the “means” are ordinary channels or ways in which God might convey, or pass on to Humanity, His preventing, justifying, and sanctifying grace.[2] The “Means of Grace” can be divided into two groups: First, those traditional Christian actions that develop one’s personal holiness, such as prayer, searching the scriptures, participating in the Lord’s Supper, and fasting. The second group of “means” corresponds to Christian works of compassion and social holiness. Consequently, these would include but are not limited to, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, entertaining strangers, and visiting those who are sick, and in prison.

Now that we have an appreciation of the “means of grace” we can now reconcile on the thought that if we become intentional in developing our personal holiness and combining it with social holiness through acts of mercy and compassion, then we will become better positioned to assist our neighbors. Appropriately, Wesley admonishes believers to be more zealous for “works of mercy, as compared to “works of piety”, he even went on to further suggest that the Lord will not have pity on those who do not demonstrate compassion for others.[3]

Therefore, my friends in Christ, let us ensure that we are continually spiritually transformed as we engage in personal and social holiness. When this is accomplished we become partners in God’s redeeming work. Furthermore, we become well-positioned to lift up and assist our brothers and sisters who are separated from God, and those who require social justice and intervention.


[1] “The Wesley Center Online: The Sermons of John Wesley: Sermon 4 - Scriptural Christianity,”, accessed October 6, 2020, [2] John Wesley, The Sermons of John Wesley : A Collection for the Christian Journey, ed. Kenneth Collins and Jason Vickers (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013), 73. [3] The Wesley Center Online, “The Sermons of John Wesley: Sermon 92 - On Zeal,”, accessed September 26, 2020,

Photo Credit:

Aldarwish, Lalesh. Man’s Hand in Shallow Focus and Grayscale Photography. September 2, 2016.

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