The month of May offers more consistently warm weather and flowers that begin to bloom. Moods generally improve with the sunshine and people begin to find things to do together outside. Events are planned and though summer doesn’t officially begin until June, the Memorial Day celebrations tend to usher in the thoughts and plans of summer. One of the most important things that we celebrate in May is Mother’s Day. Children honor their mother with visits, cards, gift, meals and church attendance. When we think of mothers, we often think of the care and nurture that they provide to our family. We are reminded of the times that mom nursed us back to health or protected us from harm. Mothers are often the greatest provider of nurture and care in our lives. Even when we are adults and gone from home, mothers seem to naturally offer that nurture and care our entire lives.
Being nurtured and cared for is something we all need. We may not always verbalize when we have a need or a care, but we all need it. Part of becoming a disciple of Christ involves nurture and care both to others and from others. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:2-3, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” We are called to be in relationship with others so that we can share burdens with one another; a closeness that allows us to be cared for and nurtured. There are several things here that I think would be important for us to take to heart.
Share each other’s burdens
How do you share one another’s burdens? The only way I have found to be able to consistently share in one another’s burdens, struggles and pain is to be in relationship with people. It is difficult for me to share anything if I am not close enough to know about it and help them bear it. We cannot expect people to randomly inform us of their needs. When we are in relationship with them, often words never have to be spoken. The relationship allows you to know there is a need that calls for help. As a mother naturally knows when her children are struggling, we also are able to share in the burdens of others when we are in relationship with them. Though it is impossible to be in relationship with every person, we must be in relationship with some people. It requires us to get close enough to them to know their struggles and to be able to share in their burdens.
It is obedience
Paul didn’t share this as a suggestion but he acknowledged it was an act of obedience. Sharing the burdens of one another is part of the law of Christ. It is the “loving people” portion. Caring for people may not come naturally to us. It may often inconvenience us. It may require us to learn and grow, but it is still expected. “Not my gift” is not an excuse we can use when it comes to being in relationship with others and caring for their needs.
We are not that important
In another verse in the New Testament, we are reminded to think of others as better than ourselves. We generally love ourselves naturally. It can often take effort to love others and think of them first. We all have burdens of our own. We have time constraints and pressures of life ourselves. Paul reminds us though that we are not that important. We cannot allow other obligations to creep in and crowd out the relationships where we care for one another and share each other’s burdens. We must make caring relationships a priority.
All churches struggle with how to best care for one another. It is something that has been a constant discussion as long as I have been in church. As Andy Stanley would say, “It is not a tension that can be solved, but it is a tension that can be managed.” Part of managing the tension of caring for people is to make sure that each of us are intentional about being in relationships where we can care for one another and share burdens. I hope that you will be intentional, and obedient, about what God desires your life to look like. May we all share one another’s burdens.