In my previous post, I wrote about trials and how they bring out the true character of the person being tested.
However, trials are never solely orchestrated for that one person to bear and be transformed by. These hard times also hone and expose the Christian strength of those associated with that individual.
That's right, God gauges your reaction to the actions in other people's lives in order to measure your spiritual maturity as well.
If you don't believe me, go read about the three unhelpful, belittling friends who only made matters worse and more confusing for Job when he was suffering.
That's a class-action Case A of how not to react to a fellow Christian's tragedy.
We can also refer to Genesis 4:9 (KJV):"And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?"
Have you ever caught yourself thinking "At least I don't have their problems" or "I'm glad I don't have to clean up that mess"?
On the flip side, how many of us are usually too stubborn or prideful to ever ask for help?
I think it is safe to say that we live in a society where people are more afraid, or at least less likely than in generations prior, to get involved in other people's issues, or to even express a desire for someone to come to our aid.
Whether it be fear of seeming nosy and meddling, fear of taking on yet another burden when we have enough of our own, or the fear of stepping on toes, many of us prefer to avoid speaking up, butting in, and taking action regarding other peoples' problems or potential issues.
Meanwhile, Galatians 6:2 (ESV) plainly says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
But, what does that mean, exactly?
It is important to insert that there's a difference between being a shoulder to lean on and being someone's garbage bin where all of their bitter complaints are thrown
into. Assisting to shoulder some of the weight doesn't mean subjecting yourself to bad influences and unedifying conversation.
Before we go any further, let me say this: Everyone has to make their own choices and face the lessons and consequences that come with those decisions.
None of us should feel responsible for the poor judgments made by anyone else but ourselves. We don't need to feel guilty if their actions lead to negative results, especially if we have made an effort to steer them down the right paths.
We are, however, supposed to try our best to give guidance and "let brotherly love continue" like Hebrews 13:1 (KJV) says.
Yes, even if a trial is self-inflicted. Even if that person really has made a morally wrong decision.
Scripture doesn't tell us to condemn or disown our brothers and sisters who make mistakes. For without His constant grace, we could be in the same boat.
Instead, our job is to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works," as Hebrews 10:24 (ESV) states.
In other words, we are called to keep each other accountable and make an effort to show we care--telling them we believe they can get out of the mud they have fallen face-first into.
We may even have to get in someone's space and demonstrate a bit of tough love in order to wake them up. It might not be pleasant at the time but we all need a push sometimes.
If we do our part, the Lord is sure to do His in correcting His kids.
I wonder how many spiritual casualties and implosions we could help prevent if we were to intercede with a hand of grace or a voice of concern much sooner?
At a crime scene, an investigator is able to tell if there were signs of a struggle.
Likewise, if we are observant enough, we can see signs of people struggling among us in the church body too.
Believers (as well as the rest of humanity) carry heavy burdens, suffer through hardships, or maybe even battle with doubt concerning their walk of faith.
|Soldier's Pass, Sedona, Arizona|
Every one of them is sending out their own SOS signals, their hearts silently screaming for someone to just reach out and let them know they are praying for them.
But because it's "none of our business" we walk on by with the slight exception of a courteous smile or handshake.
"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men" (1 Thessalonians 5:14, KJV).
I feel like we give up on people too easily.
Sometimes people have to learn things the hard way. Some people, like the Prodigal Son, might wander away before they realize where they really need to be.
If we turn our backs on them, how much harder do we make it for them to return, not knowing who will still befriend them?
It can be so easy to forget that if we were in the same position, we would want someone to lean on and give us wise counsel too.
But we weren't intended to get to Heaven on our own. We need the light in each other to see our way through the darkness that overshadows us at times.
"Two are better than one...For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow" Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV).
We could go on, keeping to our own little self-absorbed bubbles, and not necessarily be wrong for it. But how much do you think we'd ever grow spiritually?
Some of the best experiences of life and relationships are found when we dig down in the dirt and get a little bit messy, especially for the benefit of someone else.
To actually answer Cain's question in the beginning: Yes, we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers.
We all should be keeping each other accountable and emotionally supported, in the good times and the bad.
As the saying goes, we are only as strong as our weakest link. If one member of Christ's body suffers, the whole body does (1 Corinthians 12:26, KJV).
Labels: accountability, bearingburdens, brotherskeeper, buildingcharacter, Christianity, churchbody, encouragement, exhortation, family, friend, intercession, liveforothers, prevention, spirituallyspeaking, trials