by Tim Pell
The Bible says the world is built on lovingkindness, and God’s lovingkindness is not random. Neither should ours be. Instead, when we follow God’s command to generously share one another’s burdens, we carry out his mission and change the world.
In the NASB, Psalm 89:2 is commonly translated as “lovingkindness will be built up forever” can also be (and is perhaps better) translated from the Hebrew as “the world is built from lovingkindness.” What a rich, vast, and beautiful thought!
Dallas Willard wrote in his book, The Divine Conspiracy, that instead of random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty, we believers ought to “practice routinely purposeful acts of kindness and deeply intelligent acts of beauty.” In other words, where random kindness might bring a smile, purposeful kindness can change the world.
If God’s creation is built on the foundation of lovingkindness (in Hebrew, chesed), and creation realizes its potential when it is filled with it, one of the great purposes of the Christian life is to help fill the world with that fundamental element. So, how do we do that, and to whom?
Bear one another’s burdens
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, this whole idea is made practical. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).
At the heart of Paul’s instruction is the hope that the people of God, who love God, will demonstrate lovingkindness as they seek to restore wholeness to the lives of their brothers and sisters. Though Paul is talking specifically about how people in the redeemed community should treat one another, the underlying principle holds true for how we treat anyone.
Here are a few practical ways in which you can show lovingkindness and bear the burdens of life – for your family, in your church, and even with strangers.
- Nourish their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies – For those of us with a spouse and/or child(ren), it is essential that we continually feed and cultivate healthy, positive growth in each other. Keeping out the bad “foods” and letting into our homes only what brings life is the first gift of lovingkindness we can give to those in our care.
- Protect them – In order for anyone or anything to grow, they must be kept safe. We’re vulnerable when we’re growing, and we must have a safe place in which to do it. We provide that for each other by keeping watch over the physical and spiritual boundaries of our homes.
- Bring physical wholeness – Many hands make light work, they say. Likewise, when someone in our faith community needs help moving or healing or mowing or lifting – and everything in between – we should be willing volunteers to assist in putting things in their right place.
- Bring financial wholeness – Life happens. Jobs are lost. Bills need paid. But as long as we can nourish and protect our own households first, looking to ease the burdens of our church families is a prime way to “fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
- Restore each other in a spirit of gentleness – As in Galatians 6, it’s best to create faith communities that are environments in which it’s safe to heal and to learn from our mistakes. Sit with your friend and listen. Mourn and rejoice with them. Speak truth into their lives. Because we love each other, any correction we give will be gentler and more meaningful than the correction the world gives.
- Connect with strangers as human beings – Life is a struggle, no matter who you are. We can lighten just about anyone’s load with something as simple as a smile. Pay attention to the people around you, discerning what it is they might need to hear from God through you. Pay a compliment to the person who needs it. Call the check-out associate by name, and have a genuine conversation with them. (“How are you feeling today, Jason?”)
- Keep your word – One of the best ways to ease someone’s burdens is to not add to them! Doing what we say we’ll do for a coworker or neighbor or stranger means another burden won’t be added to their pile. It also communicates that they are worthy of our respect and gives them dignity in the midst of their struggle.
- Stay in the giving flow – Whether by donating anonymously, paying for someone else’s coffee, or visiting the elderly, continue to give light to your fellow man. Don’t wait to be inspired before you give; give and you will be inspired. The Dead Sea is “dead” because water flows in but never out. Don’t be like the Dead Sea. Stay in the giving flow. “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 NIV).
This article was originally published by, and is used here with permission from, MoneyWise.org.