Last time, we introduced the topic of caring for one another in Jesus’ family. Here are some practical helps on how to do it. If you wish, go back and read My Brother and Sister’s Keeper (Part 1).
Two are better than one….If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9,10) Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:7,8)
How can we practice “keeping” our brothers and sisters in Christ’s family? I suggest the following, adapted and expanded from Dr. Ross Campbell. To love and help other Christians, I must remember:
1. They are God the Father’s children, Jesus’ little brothers and sisters, people sealed and filled with God the Holy Spirit. They are precious to the Lord and they need to be precious to me. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil 2:3)
2. Other Christians act like earthly family members with personalities, behaviors, oddities, and eccentricities running the spectrum from delightful to detestable. But “You shall not hate your brother or sister in your heart.” (Lev 19:17)
3. God calls me to care for other Christians and seek their highest good, despite their annoying and embarrassing ways, trusting the Lord to help them mature and give up childish selfishness. I must be as patient with them as Christ has been and still is with me. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph 4:2) “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
4. If I only demonstrate love when others agree with me and please me, they will not feel genuinely loved. This may make them feel insecure, hurt feelings unnecessarily, and hinder them from moving on to better self-control and more Christ-like attitudes and actions. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)
5. If I love other Christians sacrificially, as the Lord continues to love me despite my failings, they will feel accepted and secure in Christ and in His family. This often increases their eagerness to follow Jesus’ example and follow Him in their thoughts, words, and deeds, “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:13)
Christian love is Christ-like service to others, not sentimental feelings. One single loving action or deed that benefits others is worth more than a hundred religious words.
Caution: God does not command “codependency” in which one person is controlled or manipulated by another who is narcissistic or who has an addiction. We must not be ruled by the needs or control of another person or excessively preoccupied with their needs to our own harm. Co-dependency is unhealthy and goes beyond proper self-sacrifice and care-taking. Also, no single one of us is fully competent to minister to everyone’s special needs or to simultaneously help everyone. Only the Lord Himself has that infinite, divine competency.