Bob Foster, my mentor and friend for more than fifty years, never gave up on me. His unchanging friendship and encouragement, even during my darkest times, helped carry me through.
We often find ourselves determined to reach out and help someone we know who is in great need. But when we fail to see improvement right away, our resolve can weaken and we may eventually give up. We discover that what we hoped would be an immediate change has become an ongoing process.
The apostle Paul urges us to be patient in helping one another through the stumbles and struggles of life. When he writes, “Carry each other’s burdens” and so “fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), he is comparing our task to the work, time, and waiting it takes for a farmer to see a harvest.
Father in heaven, we ask for hope and perseverance to continue reaching out to others.
In prayer we call on God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Ephesians 3:20
We may be hesitant about allowing ourselves to start feeling the pain of those around us. So did Paul lead us into more than we can handle when he urged us to reach out to the needs of others? (Gal. 6:9). Let’s put his words in context. In the previous chapter he wrote extensively about the importance of living with a sense of liberty (5:1). He didn’t see love as a matter of duty and bondage; rather, life in the Spirit is a life of care and concern for others, enabled by the Spirit.
So are we having cold feet about the implications of being warmhearted? If so, maybe we need to accept those natural fears. But in the freedom of the Spirit we can learn to act out of our own heart rather than out of duty; we can act out of the grace God generously gives us to care for others (6:4–5).