The Bible is full of examples of God’s command for us to encourage each other, especially those who are weak, needy or afflicted (Thessalonians 5:11,14, Isaiah 35:3, Proverbs 12:25 et al). I think, at least for me and I suspect this is true of many, that difficulty arises from our expectations. In their great book The Love Dare, Stephen and Alex Kendrick note, (in referring to our spouse but can be applied to any human relationship), that when we live by our expectations of how someone should act, we are doomed to fail; we should instead “choose to live by encouragement rather than expectations.” They add that we should let our loving encouragement and God’s intervention work on the other person and that we should focus on improving ourselves*.
Too often, we look at the needy and say, ‘why don’t they just get a job? I would.’ Or ‘why don’t they just go to rehab? That’s what I would do.’ We must not forget that their backgrounds, examples and circumstances are different than ours and doing those simple things may not be that easy for them.
The good news is that Christ came for all of us and there are millions of stories, including my own, where God intervened and transformed someone. We must have faith that He will do that for the needy. We must encourage them to have faith too.
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*Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare, 2008, 2012, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, Pages 130, 131