Singing sensation Taylor Swift sold four million records last year. Among her best current songs are “You Belong with Me” and “Two is Better than One.” The Bible tells us we are created to need each other. So how do we truly care for the people God places in our life?
In many ways, caring for one another is the foundational building block of all relationships, yet we struggle to be real and present with others as work, finances and time constraints take priority. In his writings to the churches at Rome, Corinth and Ephesus, Paul teaches us six truths about how the body of Christ demonstrates care to its members. (I Cor. 12:24-26
- When one part of the body is in pain, it affects all the other parts. So when we hear that a friend’s wife has a terminal illness, we hurt for them.
- When one part of the body is cared for, all parts are affected. We are elated when a couple we know has conceived after 18 years of childlessness.
- Members of the body are meant to care for one another. It seems a natural response to call a friend whose long-time relationship with his girlfriend takes a different course.
- Care for one another should be mutual. We need to be givers and takers so there is reciprocity in the body of Christ.
- Care for one another should be equal. We should not show more care toward one person than we do another. Let’s take a mental inventory of our relationships. Are we encouraging some and neglecting others?
- Mutual care for one another is the key to unity. We can be aligned in our beliefs but estranged in our relationships if we haven’t demonstrated concern for one another. A generous dose of care is the best prescription for a fractured relationship or divisive church body.
No one should ever have to experience the pain of being alone, including members of our own family. Here are some practical ways of caring for one another that have worked for me.
- Stay current with people’s lives. Caring for others is difficult if we aren’t aware of their struggles and joys. Keep in touch regularly.
- Concentrate on doing caring acts. We need to turn our caring attitudes into action: phone calls, notes and letters, items of personal interest. A friend’s collection of nativities inspired us to show her an article about another such collector, a gesture that showed we were aware of her interests.
- Take an interest in what other people are interested in. (Phil. 2:4) Our interests include physical and emotional needs, desires, hopes, fears and worries – the things we think about and are concerned about. A good way to get in the habit of caring for others is to take the issues that concern us and use them as a reminder that other people probably have similar concerns.
- Learn to enter into other people’s worlds – their physical, mental and emotional worlds. People feel blessed when we take the time to be physically with them, share their thinking and empathize with them emotionally.
- Recognize that caring for others can be a burden that God prepares us for and helps us to bear. We can experience sadness, disappointment and hardship. Caring can cost us in resources, mental anguish and emotional pain. Nevertheless, we should anticipate the inconveniences, the dying to self and the sacrifice that caring for others will demand.
- Look for unique and personal ways to express care for others. After a national football championship a few years ago, I called a friend to congratulate him on his school’s win. I wanted him to know that I cared for him and his history with that college.
Have you ever felt like no one cares about you? It is a hopeless feeling, a sense of being terribly alone with our pain, fear and even joy. It is a feeling of being disconnected and without help, cut off, overlooked, ignored, anonymous. That’s why the Bible instructs us to care for one another. No one should ever have to experience the pain of being alone.
Don McMinn, Ph.D. (with Kimberly Spring)
Executive Director of theiPlace.org
The 11th Commandment: More Insights into the One Anothers of Scripture
Check out Roger’s sermon: “Friends are Sheltering Trees”