Am I My Brothers Keeper?
I am humbled. Since going public with my blog a couple of weeks ago, I have had a number of people confide in me some things they are going through – be it struggles with sin or finances, or heartache or sickness. I was surprised and honoured that anyone would feel free to approach me with these things, after all I am not a pastor or an elder, I am just one Christian Dad. Why would anyone want to confide in me?
At Men’s Society we are studying what it means to be leaders in the church. We know that the Lord has given office bearers to the church whose mandate it is to shepherd the flock. So why are people coming to me with these things? Don’t take me wrongly – I am just trying for dramatic effect here 🙂 The elders of our church already give up a lot of time and energy to help those in need, and in this time of pastoral vacancy in our congregation their task is even more time consuming. I urge you all to pray for our elders and deacons as they fulfill their calling and care for us. And if you have a chance, give them a word of encouragement, say thank you at the very least. So why don’t I immediately close my door and say to the people who have confided in me, “Go find an elder or a deacon.”? Yes, there is a time I will send my brother to an overseer, but if I can help then I will. It is my duty as a Christian to help bear your burden, it is not just the overseers duty. Paul says in his letter to the Romans:
I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
Paul also tells us in Galatians 6:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
What does this mean? Carry each other’s burdens? In simple terms Paul is saying that we as Christians are to help support each other in all things relating to our faith life. We as brothers and sisters in Christ are able to support each other in the faith, in our struggles, in times of temptation, in accountability, in our times of need. If I am completely honest with you all, I don’t find that supporting and encouraging my brothers and sisters is an easy thing to do. It takes time and effort, it takes prayer, and it takes me out of my comfort zone – but I am called as a Christian to do so. I am learning in my discipleship to use the talents and abilities that God has given me for the up-building of the church and for God’s Glory. What about you? Take a minute to think about how much you share with others or encourage each other in the faith – or admonish each other in our sins. When was last time you helped a brother or sister carry a burden that God gave him or her to bear? I admit that I have been negligent in the past in this regard. I might not know anything about raising teenagers – my kids are 5 and 2, and I might not know a thing about the loneliness and grief of losing a spouse. But there are those of us who do know of these things, who are experienced in life and can provide a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen or a hug or a word of encouragement. When was the last time you invited a new member, or any member for coffee just to chat? When was the last time I did?
Life is challenging. We live in a fallen world, with fallen natures, with temptations surrounding us on all sides. Our Lord wants us to develop relationships with other members of the body, especially those with less life experience or those who are less mature in the faith, to encourage and support each other in life’s challenges. Those with more experience should guide those with less.
So to answer my blog title – yes I am. Don’t be surprised if I ask you how you are doing or offer to pray with you.