14 But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself. – Gal. 4:14 NLT
In this letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds them that he became as much like them as possible without violating his conscience. In our words today, we would probably say that he spent time making friends and building a bridge of confidence so that they would be more willing to listen to him. As the saying goes “people have to know you care before they care what you know”. As it turns out, Paul got to spend quite a bit of time in southern Galatia because of his sickness that he developed. This may have been the beginning of what Paul later referred to as “a thorn in the flesh”. It was very possibly a severe eye disease causing some amount of pain and facial dis-figuration. Paul implies that it might have made some of the people treat him badly and others would have plucked out their own eye and given it to him. But Paul pushes on and asks them the same questions we must ask ourselves and others today. Does our telling you the truth make us your enemy? Or once you know and understand the truth, does it make any sense to turn away from it? Just as Paul did, we have to get the people to understand that our witnessing to them is not because we feel that we are better or more holy than they are. It is because Jesus died for all of us simply because He loved us enough to do that for us. And His love for us requires us to show that same love to others.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. — Philippians 2:4
If we have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, we will always show the love that we have for others. We must always put Jesus first, then others next. The only way the world will know that we love Jesus is if we show that love to them and to each other. Jesus loved us to the point of laying down His life for us, even while we were still sinners. How much of your life are you willing to lay down to witness to your neighbors? Laying down our lives for others is about more than just taking time to talk to them, it is also about living a Holy life before them. Jesus has commanded us and He has also given us the power to speak words of life to those that He puts in our paths. But they won’t listen to us, if our walk doesn’t reflect our talk. As the saying goes, people don’t care what we know until they know that we care. Let each of us show how much we care by showing compassion in every situation.
2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. — 2 Timothy 4:2 NLT
We have been commanded to “love our neighbors”. How do we do that? Let’s consider this fact: If you are a Christian, you have a free gift that your neighbor needs. If you love your neighbor, why don’t you talk to them and offer them that gift. After all, as an anonymous person once said: “The Gospel has come to you because it is on its way to someone else.” Since that is true, we need to keep it going until it circles the globe. Since it is free to you and to them, this should be an easy task. The reason it is sometimes so awkward is that our neighbors don’t know that we care about them. And as it has been said, many times, “They don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” So, let them know you care and share a free gift with them, the Good News of Jesus Christ and His love for them. And, as Paul told Timothy: “go, whether, it is an opportune time or not”. In simpler terms, make time to care and the returns on your time will be worth much more than anything else you could have done.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. — Psalm 145:18, 19 NIV
Psalm 145 NIV
Have you ever felt frustrated and exasperated because you had prayed and prayed about something and it seemed as if God didn’t hear or worse yet, that He didn’t care? Have you ever just wanted to scream at God and tell Him to answer you right now?
David felt that very same thing when he wrote Psalm 143.
God is big enough to handle our frustrations with Him and He loves us enough to allow us to be frustrated. We aren’t the first of His kids to throw a temper tantrum. I am not saying that He likes it, but He can deal with it and still love us. He is always there to carry us through it. Again, not because of our faithfulness but because of His faithfulness. That is why David could write Psalm 143 and Psalm 145.
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior, 4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. — Titus 1:1-4 NIV
Not much is known about Titus, except that he is of Greek descent. He is mentioned in only 4 books of the Bible. Paul calls him “my true son in the faith” and “my fellow worker”. The same phrases that Paul used to describe Timothy. Just as Paul wrote letters of encouragement and instructions to the churches, he also wrote letters of encouragement and instructions to Timothy and Titus. He showed the same care and concern for individuals as he did for the churches he had established. The purpose of these letters was to further the faith of the elect and to instruct them in their knowledge of the truth. Just as surely as God had His missionaries teaching the Gospel, satan had his disciples trying to tear it down with confusing and divisive stories. It was true then and it is still true today. That is why we need to spend time in disciplining new converts and being sure that they are well established in the faith and will be able to continue on to good works. We need to be sure that they understand that God is THE truth and that God is love, then they will not be easily shaken or deterred from leading others to Christ. If we do this job well, the Kingdom of God will continue to grow and God will be given honor and glory. By doing this, we will be fulfilling our purpose here on earth, which is to bring glory to God.
20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. — Hebrews 13:20, 21 NIV
14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.— 1 Thess 5:14, 15 NIV
We pray and ask God to bless the work of our hands, but if we aren’t doing anything with our hands, there is nothing for God to bless. If we are doing the works of our Father, then He certainly will bless the works of our hands. We do need to be full time Christians, but that doesn’t mean we have to be employed by the church or a mission organization, God needs workers in the workplace. Our vocation and how we support our families is important to God. He has placed us in secular organizations to spread His Word there. Jesus was a friend to sinners and we can use that example in our workplaces. We can build bridges by encouraging the disheartened and helping those that are weak. Each of us have areas in our lives that are weak and need developing. We need to look for those weak areas in those around us. Not so that we can criticize the other person, but so that we will be able to encourage them and build them up. When we find them, we need to pray for them and marinate those weak areas in prayer. We need to pray for discernment for ourselves, so that we can be specific in our prayers for others. Then with love, patience and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we can help them develop their weak areas.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. — Eph. 4:32 NIV
As the old adage goes, “No one cares what you know, until they know that you care”. Our lifestyles will let them know whether or not, we really care . So, above all, we must live our lives so that they see Jesus in us everyday.
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.– Psalm 90:17 NIV
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. — 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-12 NIV
Paul sets a great example for us to follow when we are witnessing to others. We should be doing this because our hearts’ desire is to show others the love that we have for them. We have this love for them because of the love Jesus has for us. No other motive is needed, not money, not fame, not popularity. Even while spending his life as a missionary, Paul worked as a tentmaker, so that his presence would not be a financial burden on those to whom he was speaking. He and his companions did their best to mirror the lifestyle of Jesus, their Lord and Savior. Because Jesus cared enough to die for us, Paul spent his life in caring for others, just like a Mother cares for her children. Not only was he concerned about their physical welfare, but he cared even more about their spiritual welfare. He didn’t just preach the Gospel message and leave them, he spent time in explaining the scriptures to them and living an obedient lifestyle while he was there with them. He encouraged, comforted and urged them to live lives worthy of God. In other words, he was “making disciples”, teaching them how to grow in the word and not leaving them as babies without food and no one to feed them. He exemplified God’s love even more by writing letters to them after he had left as well as sending some of his companions back to check on them at times. Jesus’ command was not to “love them and leave them” or to “save them and send them’, it was to make disciples.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matt. 28:19, 20 NIV