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CrossPointe Community Church
P O Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.I Corinthians 12:12-27
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 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.
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.Galatians 6:1-10
On Caring for One Another
A tramp was looking for a handout one day in a picturesque old English village.
Hungry to the point of fainting, he stopped by a pub bearing the classic name St. George and the Dragon.
“Please ma’am, could you spare me a bite to eat?” he asked the lady who answered his knock at the kitchen door.
“A bite to eat!” she growled. “For a sorry no good bum; a foul-smelling beggar?” “Absolutely not!” she snapped as she tried to slam the door on his hand.
Halfway down the lane, the tramp stopped, turned around, and eyed the words of the sign again: St. George and the Dragon. He went back again and knocked on the kitchen door.
“Now what do you want?” the same woman demanded angrily.
“Well, ma’am, I was wonderin’ if St. George is in?”
I wonder if the old dragon had ever read either First Corinthians or Galatians. Probably not, for in the former we encounter the phrase ‘care for one another’ (I Corinthians 12:25); and in the latter, ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2).
Those two phrases are a subset of the fifty-nine so-called ‘one-another’ imperatives woven into the fabric of the New Testament. ‘Accept one another,’ ‘build one another up,’ ‘confess your sins to one another,’ ‘be devoted to one another,’ ‘edify one another,’ ‘forgive one another,’ are just six examples; all of which fall under the general heading ‘love one another,’ which appears one-hundred times in the New Testament.
So as we begin to focus on ‘care for one another’ and ‘bear one another’s burdens,’ let’s not forget that both of those admonitions are encouraged so that we might more perfectly fulfill our highest calling, which is to ‘love one another.’
I have derived four general principles from today’s two passages about caring for one another and bearing one another’s burdens.
First, Paul’s body language in Corinthians teaches that favoritism is strictly forbidden. People in the church at Corinth were playing favoritism. Pride was running rampant and problems ran the gamut; from members suing one another to not eating meals together, to refusing to take communion together, to some gloating that their spiritual gifts were more important. Obviously, they weren’t about to ‘care for one another.’
But Paul declares there is no room for favoritism in the church. We cannot pick and choose who we care for. Just as justice should be blind, so should our care for others. “All the members care for one another” (I Co. 12:25) he writes.
Second, Paul’s body language also conveys the idea that this caring for one another should be second nature in the body of Christ. When you feel a speck of dust get in your eye, what’s the first thing you do? Immediately another part of your body; your hand attempts a rescue, gently stretching the bottom of your eyelid with one finger while another carefully tries to remove the intruding object. It happens quite naturally, without a second thought.
So it should be in the body of Christ when we see a member in need or hear of a member in need, without a second thought, if at all possible, we come to their aid. As Paul writes the Galatians, “Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone; especially those in the family of faith” (6:10).
Third, to care for and bear one another’s burdens requires a large dose of humility. “If another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are Godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path” (6:1). “If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important” (6:3).
Fourthly, caring for one another results in a deeply held sense of as Paul says,
“harmony among the members” (I Corinthians 12:25). When harmony from this kind of love and caring is present you’d be amazed at how many otherwise dividing issues disappear. People don’t argue over theological issues when care is being given. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the second coming of Christ or the rapture. People can easily look beyond personal beliefs, opinions and preferences when their needs are being met by the body.
What are some practical ways that we can put these one another’s into action?
‘Caring for one another’ can sometimes be as simple as listening with a compassionate heart.
Author and lecturer, Leo Buscaglia, once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy walked into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
When I was 16 years old, my best friend, Andy, said, “Randy, I’m going on vacation with my family in a couple of weeks; how about taking my paper route when I’m gone?”
One of his customer’s husband had recently passed away. And a few days into my stint, she offered me a coke and to sit on her porch. She spoke of her husband as if he were still living. “Herb and I woke extra early this morning.” The first time she said that the Coke went up my nose. I went home that day and told my dad how she talked about her mister as if he were still living. Dad said she was probably lonely, and that maybe I ought to just sit and listen and nod my head and smile and maybe she’d work it out of her system. So that’s what I did until Andy came back from Canada.
Turned out that Dad was right. After about a year she seemed content to leave her husband at the cemetery. After my stint as a paper boy, I didn’t see her for several years. Then our paths crossed at a dinner down at the Christian Church.
There she stood behind a table spooning out scalloped potatoes and looking radiant. Four years before, she had to bribe her paper boy with a coke to have someone to talk with; now she had friends brimming over. Her husband was gone, but life went on.
I wonder how many of our friends and neighbors are craving for someone to just nod their head and smile.
We have people within this body of believers who need someone to just nod their head and smile. And do you know what it’s going to take to care for one another in that way? For sure, the gift of someone’s time, and perhaps, a little training wouldn’t hurt.
Very often, caring for bearing one another burdens, will cost us some of our time. When Suz Lemmon was recovering from the spill she took last Fall, Lyn Methle, Karen Tate and April Winter carved out time from their already busy schedules to spend time with Suz in her home. It was a sacrifice of time that yielded what today’s scripture is all about.
I am convinced that there are others among you who would join their ranks and give some of your time to care for one another in that way. And perhaps, one thing that is holding you back is not having the experience or not knowing quite how to do that or maybe what to say.
To that end, I will provide some visitation training this Tuesday at 7:30 pm, and if you can’t make it Tuesday, next Saturday at 10 am.
Another practical way that we can care for one another, and in this case, care for children, is to become involved with our ministry to kids, which has been named by the children, The Anchor Club. I am especially issuing an invitation for any of you to become Table Parents. As a Table Parent, you are being asked to give some time, to come for dinner time, and host two to five children who will sit at your table. You act as surrogate grandparents, eating with them, nodding and smiling, and showing interest in them by engaging in conversation, finding out who they are and what makes them tick. Those children will be blessed as you care for and love them.
And lastly, I want to offer you the possibility of becoming a Stephen Minister. It was designed to equip Christians to care for and bear one another’s burdens; especially those burdened with some type of crisis.
There is normally a cost to receive Stephen Minister training, but in our case, it won’t cost you any money as our church will cover the cost for you from our Mission Fund which is supported not only by you but also, through the Lion’s Club Polar Bear donation. But don’t worry, to become and be involved in Stephen Ministry is only going to cost you the gift of your time. In fact, the training, which if I could sum it up in one phrase focuses on the art of listening, will require 20 weekly sessions.
Caring and bearing is not going to cost us time, it may also require us to get our hands dirty; sometimes literally.
I was reading about a family at a church picnic where the father was about to sink his teeth into the perfect ham sandwich; a thick slab of ham, a fresh bun, crisp lettuce, and plenty of that expensive light brown gourmet mustard. He picked it up with both hands and was about to indulge, but was abruptly stopped by his wife who handed him their 6-year-old and said, “Hold Johnny while I get my sandwich.”
Many a husband could have been annoyed, but not this one. So he balanced Johnny between his left elbow and shoulder reaching his watering mouth toward the ham sandwich in his right hand and noticed a streak of that wonderful gourmet mustard on his left. He had no napkin, and with his hands full couldn’t have used it anyway, so he did the sensible thing and licked it off; except, it was not mustard. No man ever put a baby down faster. It was the only time he ever sprinted to a bathroom with his tongue hanging out. But the real blow came minutes later when, after his wife stopped laughing so hard, said, “Now you know why they call it POUPON.”
Two weeks from today is Gather to Scatter Sunday, the day on which we set aside time to accomplish what Paul is encouraging us to do today. We have a wonderful opportunity to care for Ron and Rena Thomas. They have a few projects around their home that need tending to and we’re just the kind of people who can help.
One way that we can get our hands dirty; literally, is by digging out and removing some soil from one place to another and filling in with some much-needed mulch. Ron and Rena have cared for us in many ways over the years and now we have the opportunity to care for them.
Yes, bearing one another’s burdens’ may cost us resources (time, money, energy) and may even produce mental and/or emotional pain. But as Christ’s people, we should be ever ready to pay that price, as we are never more like Jesus than when we are not only ‘caring for one another’ but going further and ‘bearing one another’s burdens.’
I don’t need to remind us that He bore a great burden for us when He gave it all upon the cross. That’s why after Paul encourages us to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ he tacks on the phrase ‘and thus obey the law of Christ’ (Galatians 6:2).
One chilly fall day a farmer spied a little sparrow lying on its back in the middle of his field. The farmer stopped his plowing, looked down at the frail, feathered creature, and inquired, “Why are you lying upside down like that?”
“I heard the sky is going to fall today,” replied the bird.
The old farmer chuckled. “And I suppose your spindly little legs can hold up the sky?”
“One does what one can,” replied the plucky little sparrow.
That should be our motto as Christ’s followers: “One does what one can!”
As we care for and bear one another’s burdens, we will be blessed immeasurably; not only the recipients but the caregivers as well.
Two brothers inherited and worked together on the family farm. One remained in the farmhouse, the other built a new house on the property. One brother married and had a large family; the other lived alone, but still, they divided the proceeds from the farm equally.
One day as the single brother was working, he thought, my brother is struggling to feed a large family but I get half the harvest. With love in his heart for his brother, he went shopping and bought a number of items he knew would help his brother’s family. After dark, he planned to slip over to his brother’s shed, unload the box of goodies and never say a word about it.
The same day, the married brother was thinking, my brother is alone and he does not know the joys of having a family. Out of love for his brother, he with the help of his wife put together a basket with a quilt and homemade bread and preserves. After dark, he planned to leave the basket on his porch and never say a word about it.
That night, as the brothers stealthily made their way to each other’s homes, they encountered one another. There they both admitted what they were up to.
And there, they embraced and cried as each man realized that his greatest treasure was a brother who respected and loved him. 1
Beyond making this world a better place for all of us to live, beyond the privilege of making another person’s life better, what we will receive in return for ‘caring for one another’ and ‘bearing one another’s burdens’ is to hear those words that all Christ followers long to hear from the Master: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
1 Nighttime Treasures from God’s Little Devotional Book, from Stories for a Faithful Heart compiled by Alice Gray, [Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, © 2000], page 64.