Giving Care to Others
Neighbor Care: I rolled the shopping cart up and down the grocery store aisles, placing items in the cart or the tote balanced between the folded-out baby seat and the handle bar. In my hand, two shopping lists: one for us, the other for our neighbor.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
In the past several months, Keith and I have been blessed to be able to care for our neighbors. Shopping or driving them to the grocery store, picking up mail and prescriptions, staying in closer touch as they recover from various misfortunes. We might miss opportunities to befriend strangers but tend to be openhanded with neighbors, as they are with us.
“Openhandedness and openheartedness act like newborn twins, who thrive when connected,” writes my fellow Perennial Gen contributor and author Afton Rorvik in Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the honor of reading an advance copy and serving on Afton’s launch team. Her book releases on October 5th.
Most of us like being on the giving end of care, but recently I’ve been wondering.
What about being a good receiver?
Receiving Care from Others
Afton: “We cannot assume that if we want friends, we just have to do more, give more. We must also learn to accept the gracious gifts others offer us.”
Jesus often received hospitality, and gifts. Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:1-3
There’s intimacy in this story—and vulnerability. When in need, we are especially vulnerable. Depending on others for help is not a bad thing. As my colleague Afton writes, “…living openhanded… means we must not hug our own need to ourselves, hiding it from others. We must let others step into our pain and need and then cheerfully and gratefully accept their generous offers of help.”
We must not take opportunities to help us away from others.
Taking Care of Ourselves
We also must not interfere with others’ opportunities to take care of themselves. Afton: “Let’s face it, we like to rescue. We like to fix. We like to take on the role of hero. But if we step in and mount a rescue with our generosity, we just might deprive a friend of the satisfaction of succeeding on his or her own. Great growth and strength come from struggle.”
Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means giving and receiving AND taking care of ourselves as Jesus did. One of the ways he took care of himself was to withdraw from everyone for spiritual refueling time alone as here: After dismissing the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. Well into the night, he was there alone. Matthew 14:23 And here: But the news about him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)
So, this is my prayer for today: Lord, may I be a gracious care giver, a grateful care receiver, and take good care of myself.
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