Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Burden Of Friendship

Noah and company.
Noah, one of my all-time mission trip favorite kids! This is from May 26, 2014.

The Veteran's Administration has been in the news lately over issues dealing with the care of our nation's soldiers. I've seen one of Abraham Lincoln's best known quotes mentioned several times in various stories. Taken from his second inaugural address, Lincoln spoke of America's obligation to take care of her heroes:
  With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

I really love those cherished sentiments from the 16th president who had such a way with words. I used to have that line on history tests as a memory question and I especially love the portion highlighted in red and underlined above. It hearkens back to James 1:27 where James states the acceptable practice of faith in the eyes of God must include caring for widows and orphans.  With this being Memorial Day, many people have posted Facebook status updates with pictures of relatives who served in the military- I did as well, using a photo of my nephew, Seth, while he was on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. In society, some will always carry a higher kind of burden. Today we gratefully remember and honor those who risked life and limb in the protection of freedom. 

Bearing the burdens of others is such a powerful theme in the Scriptures. Check out just  few verses urging believers to do so:

Philippians 2:4
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Galatians 6:9-10
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 

I think the best example of bearing one another's burdens I have ever witnessed came in the summer of 2010. As some of you know, I spent almost four weeks in China at a Christian orphanage in rural Hunan Province. One of the kids there was a fifteen year old boy named Noah who was extremely bright. He also knew the Bible very well as did a number of the children; they studied the Word daily. Noah was kind and charming. Several years before, he had developed an infection in his foot and when treatment failed, the doctors amputated it. As I recall, it was not far above the ankle but he got around remarkably well, hopping on his remaining foot. Noah did not make a big deal out of his physical limitation and neither did the others. One day, we went to a river to swim and it required walking several miles out through the countryside covered with rice paddies. Without fanfare, the boys took turns carrying Noah up and down the hilly terrain. When we arrived, they put him back on the ground and went swimming. Jesus told us we should let our lights shine so others will see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. I praised God that day in July, 2010. Someone is always watching; that day it was me. Someone always needs carrying.

Applicable quote of the day:
No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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