He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 NASB)
At times I take comfort in knowing that I am a person who cares about others. By “care”, I mean that I feel bad for them when they struggle or face challenges. In other words, I feel for them in their distress. I want them to experience joy, to feel at peace, and to always remain hopeful. I have been increasingly realizing just how meaningless this type of “caring” for others is. When I wish others well or tell them “I am there for you” it really doesn’t amount to much in God’s eyes. It is no great feat or act of love to tell someone “I care”.
It is easy for one to fall into believing that our concern, thoughts, or feelings about a situation or a person count for something, or make us a caring person. But when God calls us to have compassion, love, or mercy toward another, His concern isn’t in what we are feeling - it is in what we are doing. In speaking of the kind of faith that God calls us to, James 2:15-17 illustrates how far short we fall when we think our mere concern for a person counts for something. In this passage, upon encountering someone lacking food and clothing, we see a depiction of what could be a well-meaning person offering prayer and good wishes for the sufferer’s needs to be met. But James tells us that this failure to act indicates a lack of faith, and thus an insufficient amount of care for another. In the above example, why pray for them to have clothes and find food when you already have the means to provide these things for them? In this case, simply praying or wishing is not doing any good…not because prayer and wanting the best for someone aren’t important or useful; but because when God has already given us the means to put care into action for another, we must do so ourselves. If we don’t, despite whatever warm feeling we are experiencing or how much we say we care; our lack of action tells the truth: we don’t care and we are simply praying for someone else to came along to do the real job of caring.
So I am asking myself a few questions when it comes to my willingness to care for my brother or sister. When I say “I care about you”, am I confusing an emotion for action? Am I willing to care for someone to the point of inconveniencing myself? To the point of discomfort? To the point of giving my own possessions, sacrificing my desires, and denying myself pleasure? In answer I would say sometimes, yes…but for every yes there are a thousand no’s. So do I care? No, I don’t; at least not in any way that matters; not in any way that is good, holy, or pleasing to God.
But there is someone who does care. The Father sent His Son to die in my place; precisely because I don’t care. Jesus bore this and all of my other sin’s on the cross. Sins that caused His Father to turn His face from Him in righteous anger and disgust. The result of Christ’s suffering for me? Adoption by the only perfect Father, my Father; a Friend who sticks closer than a brother; and an amazing transformation in me being undertaken by the Holy Spirit which will enable me to one day be able to answer the question “Do I care?” with a resounding YES!
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those
who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:10 ESV)