This morning the Lord gave me a billboard in the following devotional by Dr. Charles Stanley. To give ourselves away to others brings to mind a few points: 1) We are to carry the burdens of others either through deeds or lifting them up in prayer; and 2) We are to do so as Christ did without regard to ourselves. Whether or not our relationships are in good standing in this moment, we are still to love them. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) Even when others treat us hatefully, we are to love them, help them with their burdens, and pray for theirs (and our) healing. I need to apply this to a personal relationship, but as the church–the body of Christ–we need to apply this to those who would call us names and spew hate, and there’s certainly a lot of that going around. Our response must be to share the love of Christ–to shine His light as a beacon in the darkness. We can only do this through the power of God because in Christ we are new creations. (2 Cor. 5:17)
Independence is a prized attribute in our culture, but biblically, it isn’t a worthy aspiration. Nowhere in Scripture will you find the erroneous quote, “God helps those who help themselves.” The very fact that the Lord formed the church–a community of believers–should tell us that He did not create people for self-sufficiency or isolation.
When we place faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us so we can have a fulfilling relationship with the Lord and satisfying friendships with one another. In God’s design, a close, committed biblical friendship between two believers serves to build both toward Christlikeness. Look at any of the saints in Scripture, and you will find evidence of reliance upon a close friend or confidante for support. Paul, in particular, spoke freely and often of his dependence upon dear companions and encouraged others to form intimate partnerships as well (2 Tim. 2:9-22).
It’s interesting to me that our modern culture seems to be headed in the opposite direction. The farther our nation drifts from God, the more pervasive our self-sufficient attitude becomes. Neighbors treat each other with suspicion instead of congeniality, and that mindset has invaded the church as well. We’re hesitant to give to others, which in turn makes us reluctant to receive.
Scripture tells us to love one another, bear our brothers’ burdens, and confess our sins to fellow believers (John 13:34; Gal. 6:2; James 5:16). In other words, we’re to give ourselves away to others and receive from them in return. That’s how church members can stimulate one another to Christlikeness.