Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Showing Concern for Others
Phil. 4:10 I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. 11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
The church in Philippi had been able to help Paul. Interestingly, he wasn’t as concerned in the actual support they provided for his benefit, but for what they would learn spiritually from the act. He wanted them to realize the interconnectedness of followers of Christ and by showing concern for others, they had been willing to share Paul’s distress. Becoming participants together with others is part of what is required of those who are a members of the body of Christ.
Showing real and genuine concern for others takes action, not just words. It’s easy to give lip service to the problems and concerns of others within the body of Christ, but really jumping in and doing the work can be hard.
The Lord brought a wonderful young man to work at the Seminary for the past year. Sadly, he’s just left to go back to his former employer, but along the way he became one of us. He lives in a neighborhood that is currently reflecting what it means to really show concern for others. He and his wife have three young children and she has just been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. They thought that they had beat it more than a year ago, and now it’s back and it’s nasty. I’ve been watching the events surrounding their lives unfold on social media and I have to confess, I’ve never seen a community come out and support people like this. People in their neighborhood began replacing their outdoor lights with pink lightbulbs until now, when they drive home after dark, nearly every porch light is pink as their neighbors show concern for them. Recently he began to notice that there were pink bows tied around every light post in their neighborhood. Their mantra has become #fightdirty — to fight this nasty cancer. Suddenly the whole community is springing up and wearing hot pink t-shirts with #fightdirty imprinted upon them. Hundreds of people are showing their love and concern for this family and the prayers are being poured out daily. Please, join me in praying for them.
The people of Josh’s community are reflecting Jesus in a powerful and visible way. The church is challenged to respond to the needs within her community as well. We are to share in the distress of those whom God has placed within our personal community. That is part of what it means to be a member of the body of Christ. We are to support one another and realize that we are not disconnected individuals but we are interconnected and together we will serve the mission of God.
Part of the reason that Paul needed help was for financial reasons. He did learn how to make do with what he had, but it was important for others to participate in his work. Within the church we will be able to do more when we support one another. The popular trend these days is to give financially to the place that touches your heartstrings. Instead of giving into the general fund of the ministry (which really doesn’t seem that glamorous) we want to designate our gift to a particular cause. The problem with that may be that the giving becomes more about what makes us feel good, than about sharing in the distress of others. The global concerns of an interconnected church body can be met when everyone is willing to understand that the distress felt during drought in Africa, is also our distress, even if we live in another part of the world. This was the “aha” moment of spiritual maturity for the people of Philippi and for this reason Paul rejoiced that they shown concern for his condition.
We tend to jump to the conclusion that we are being prodded to show concern for others. No — we show concern for others when we are growing spiritually. The concern for others was simply a reflection of the spiritual maturity of the Philippian believers. That is why Paul rejoiced in their activity. Our outward lives and activities become a reflection of what God is doing in and through us. Because Jesus showed concern for others, as I reflect him, I will show concern for others. This is the life of spiritual growth and maturity to which we are called.
Lord, thank you for the blessing of participating in the distress of others. Amen.