Jesus instructed his followers to show radical love to the world. As Bible scholar Rosemary Bardsley wrote, “His commands concerning love are so radical, so different from the mindset of our society, that they seem impossible to obey, indeed, we are not even sure we want to even try to obey them. He commands us to a kind of love, and an extent of love that is all-embracing and limitless.” An absolute, all-encompassing love must certainly include all animals, not only humans, in God’s creation—even “the least of these.” In that spirit, here are 10 easy ways to help animals, honor God, and demonstrate Christlike love.
Ways to Help Animals
1. Volunteer at Shelters and Sanctuaries
Open-admission shelters, which never turn away any animal in need, and true sanctuaries, which don’t exploit animals for profit, often welcome volunteers. You can offer to spend time socializing frightened or timid animals in order to improve their chances of adoption, help with the organization’s website, take pictures of adoptable animals, pitch in at fundraising events, walk dogs, and sew blankets, among many other activities. You may even meet your new best friend!
2. Go ‘Trash Fishing’
Psalm 69:34 tells us that “the seas and all that move in them” praise God. Instead of piercing aquatic animals through their sensitive mouths and suffocating them by pulling them out of the water, go on a “trash fishing” expedition! You’ll help keep the environment clean and prevent fish, turtles, birds, and other animals from eating or becoming entangled in deadly debris.
3. In Lieu of Birthday Gifts, Ask for Donations to Your Favorite Animal Charity
Most of us have more than enough stuff. Use your big day to make a lasting impact by requesting donations to your local spay/neuter initiative, dog and cat food for food pantries, toys and treats for animals in shelters, straw for cold chained dogs, or support for whatever animal welfare program is most important to you.
4. Choose Cruelty-Free Products
With many cruelty-free cosmetics, personal-care products, and household cleaners readily available, no one has to fund cruel and pointless experiments on animals. Use PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies database to make ethical shopping a breeze.
5. Use Humane Traps and Humane Bug Catchers
As humans continue to overpopulate the planet, increase urban sprawl, and bulldoze natural areas, we make it harder and harder for wildlife to survive. It’s easy to show kindness to “the least of these” by simply using humane traps or humane bug catchers and helping them find their way back outside—and by sealing off entry points to help them stay there.
6. Adopt and Have Animals Spayed or Neutered
At any given time, millions of healthy, loving animals are sitting in shelters waiting for their permanent homes. The two most important things everyone can do to help end the homeless-animal crisis are to adopt—never buy—animal companions and to have them spayed or neutered.
7. Choose Humane Entertainment
God never intended his marine mammals to live in concrete tanks, where they’re starved in order to force them to perform tricks. He never wanted his elephants to be chained and beaten by circus trainers. Surely, it saddens him to see his big cats confined to metal cages and their precious babies torn away from them in order to fuel the cub-petting industry. Every time you choose to observe dolphins in their natural home, attend an animal-free circus, or watch an exhilarating nature documentary instead of supporting a roadside zoo, you take a stand against exploitative exhibitors.
8. Wear Your Own Skin—Let Animals Keep Theirs
God gave all animals the ability to think, feel, and hope as well as the desire to live free of suffering. They don’t want to be killed and made into a shoe, sweater, or wallet any more than they want to be a burger, nugget, or fillet. Check out PETA’s wealth of compassionate fashion resources for killer looks that don’t kill animals.
9. Liberate Your Language
Isaiah 50:4 says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” The words we choose are powerful and can influence the way people view and treat animals. Remember to refer to animals as “he,” “she,” or “they.” Animals aren’t objects, so they can’t be an “it.” Similarly, there is no such thing as a “circus elephant,” “carriage horse,” “beef cow,” or “lab rat”—only animals exploited by humans in those ways. Idioms such as “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” or “Let’s kill two birds with one stone” invoke violence against animals. But when we speak kindly, we sow kindness. Let’s choose to use compassionate expressions such as “There’s more than one way to peel a potato” and “Let’s feed two birds with one scone.”
10. Always Help Animals in Need
God trusted us to be the stewards of his creation. When you see an animal in need, please don’t assume that someone else will help—you’re likely that animal’s only hope. Help turtles cross the road safely, assist in a wildlife emergency, rescue dogs from hot cars, provide chained dogs with relief, and intervene if you see animal abuse.