Tangible Ways to Love and Help Hurting People
Love in action
"If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
This verse is what friendship is all about. There are many beautiful portrayals of intimate relationships in the Bible. Ruth and Naomi, and David and Jonathan come to mind. If you read them you will see that they helped each other when they were in peril or fell. The reason I believe these friendships are written about in the Scriptures is because they are examples of how friends love selflessly, and will go above and beyond to lift up and support those going through the trial. In addition, we are called to offer love and friendship to all people, even our enemies. Christ modeled this for us, as well as the Apostles and churches, and many Old Testament characters.
Ruth: sacrificial love and friendship
Other than Jesus Himself, I think Ruth was the greatest example of a friend in the Bible. Her mother-in-law had lost her husband and both adult children. Ruth lost her husband. In Naomi's poverty, sorrow, and despair, and in her own grief, Ruth selflessly left her homeland, her family of origin, and committed to coming alongside Naomi as she returned to Israel. Ruth went so far as to go to a land where they practiced a foreign religion. She chose to accept the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and allow herself to be used by God to help Naomi with her practical, spiritual, and emotional needs. If ever there was one who needed a friend, it was Naomi. And Ruth was a Christ-like friend.
Isaiah admonishes us to strengthen the weak and feeble. What are some ways we can we strengthen, love, and bless those who are going through serious trials? who have broken and bleeding wounds? who are sick and infirm? Consider the following examples.
Remind them of the promises of God
- Buy them a book of Bible promises to meditate on. I bought one recently for a friend and it had several topics, such as fear, illness, faith, etc.
- A friend of mine made me a promise jar filled with decorative strips of paper with Bible promises on them. She also put a label on it that says, "Lori's Promises From God: One a day for good spiritual health." Here is an example: "You say 'I feel all alone.' God says, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb. 13:5) I cannot tell you how these promises got me through some rough days.
"He has given us exceedingly great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4)
Express your love and support
- Listen to them, give them your full attention, and ask "How can I pray for you?" Then pray for them right then and there. Assure them you will be praying for them daily, then do it.
- Encouragement is extremely important. Send cards with expressions of compassion and encouragement. Satan uses discouragement as a weapon to tear down and defeat God's children. It is best to write a few words from your heart, but there are cards that can say exactly what you want to express. This lets the person know they are not alone or forgotten by you.
- If you cannot identify with their problem, don't tell them you know how they feel when you don't, and be very careful with advise. Don't be flippant with pat answers and Scriptures as if it were an easy thing to fix. Find a way to learn of this problem. For instance, if your friend is going through a mental health crisis, learn about the illness and what you can do to help them, and ask them "How can I help? What can I do to support you?"
"Speak as though God himself were speaking through you." (1 Peter 4:11a)
Respect their privacy
- Don't call up the prayer chain with a problem that is very personal and delicate without getting permission from the person first. For example, if your friend has a drinking or marital problem, don't call the prayer chain. It's so easily turned into gossip and judgment.
- Don't share it with people in the church without asking the person first. Again, it can turn into gossip and judgment and invades the persons privacy. Ask her if you can process it with a trustworthy confidante or with the pastor. If she says no, don't do it.
- Ask before you visit. If someone is really sick, they may not be up to having a nice chat. They need rest. People who are sick feel pressured to entertain and converse with visitors.
"Do to others as you would like them to do to you." (Luke 6:31)
Encourage and affirm
- If they don't feel like sharing, just say "I want you to know I'm praying and thinking about you.
- Tell them you love them. You cannot say this enough.
- Express to them how valuable they are to God and to you, especially if they are down on themselves. You might share a Scripture along these lines.
“ Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Luke 12:8)
Meet practical needs.
- This would come in the form of meals, shopping, domestic chores, transportation, child care, etc. Ask first, as not everyone wants or needs this kind of help.
- If they are sick or injured and have needs for when they come home, such as bathroom railings, or set up of medications, ask them what their needs are and see if you can help. Also, ask if you can call upon someone to help meet that need, especially if you are not skilled in the task at hand.
“ For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me’" (Matt. 25:34-36).
Practice what you preach
If we are ministering to those who do not know Christ, don't just pray and preach, say God Bless, and walk away. They need to be encouraged to turn to God, absolutely. But if we preach and pray and don't help them with practical needs, they will not see true compassion and understanding.
"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18)
Use your God given gifts
Each of us has spiritual gifts that God has given us to serve Him and serve others. Don't hesitate to use those gifts. In addition, don't be afraid to exercise other gifts as well. If we don't use our gifts in service, we will collect dust on our hearts which will weigh us down.
"If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging...And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." (Romans 12:8)
Do it in Jesus Name
When we give to and help others it should not be done in our name, or even our church's name, but in the name above all names, Jesus Christ. For we do it to give Him glory.
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 3:17)
Do everything with love.
Paul commands us, "Do everything with love. (1 Corinthians 16:14). In fact, Paul talks much about love throughout 1 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Paul tells us that all our gifts and good deeds are meaningless if we don't do them out of love. Again, we must check our motives for doing good and for sharing the Gospel. Do we do it because we should? Because we can? Or do we do it out of love for Him and love for others?
At the end of chapter 13, Paul tells us this, "Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."
© Lori Colbo 2011
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