A Tribute to Care-givers April 01 2016

A death in the family always seems to bring an opportunity to consider what is most important in life.  In our case, it was the home-going of Shashi’s mom.  She had gone to visit family on the east coast three years ago, but became ill and never returned to her home in California.  Our family back east ministered to her in tremendous ways as did the care-givers in the assisted living and nursing facilities that became her new home and part of her extended family.

As a result, we have come to even more deeply appreciate those who have become care-givers of aging parents, disabled children or other relatives or friends.  We have also seen examples from those who have taken up care-giving as a profession.  It is not easy, even when you are paid for doing it.  

For the believer, care-giving is an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God, as in I Corinthians 13: love is patient (even when helping them get dressed or go to the bathroom), love is kind (even when they don’t recognize or appreciate what you are doing), love is not jealous (i.e. jealous of the time that we could have had to do something else), is not provoked (even when they are not cooperating)….  You get the idea.  Care-giving can be draining physically, financially, and in many other ways, but is one of those God-given opportunities to demonstrate love in a special way.  

The Scriptures help us put this all in perspective.  Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 provides several principles that relate to care-giving.  It is interesting that the parable was given in response to the lawyer’s question in Luke 10:25: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus turned the tables on him and asked the lawyer what was written in the Law, the lawyer gave what Jesus said was a correct, biblical answer, in short, “You shall love the Lord your God … and your neighbor as yourself.”  Then verse 29 states “But wishing to justify himself, he (the lawyer) said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”  It is one of those “sorry I asked that question” moments, but it gave Jesus the opportunity to explain some principles of care-giving, which include:

  1. Life sometimes doesn’t seem fair from our perspective.  The man who was walking down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was just minding his own business when the robbers “stripped him and beat him and went off leaving him half dead” (verse 30)  He didn’t deserve this, but it happened, and at that moment became helpless.  That encapsulates many care-giving situations that come into our own lives: unexpected, often difficult, and sometimes a test of our faith.
  2. Being perceived as being religious does not count for much.  The priest and Levite merely “passed by on the other side.”  The parable does not say what the priest’s and Levite’s excuses were, but they are not difficult to imagine:  didn’t have enough time, would be too inconvenient or messy to get involved, etc.  In any event, they failed to demonstrate love for their neighbor.
  3. Demonstrating love for God and neighbor typically involves action.  Verse 33 states that the Samaritan was motivated by compassion.  It was just as inconvenient and just as messy as it would have been for the priest and Levite, but the Samaritan cared enough to not leave anything to chance.  He bandaged the man’s wounds, found shelter for him, followed up with him and the innkeeper the next day, and made a commitment to pay any other expenses.  There can be a lot of confusion over the idea of compassion.  There are days when we don’t really feel like dealing with difficult care-giving situations, but that doesn’t mean that we are not compassionate.  Jesus did not necessarily feel like going to the cross (“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me” – Luke 22:42), but He was still motivated by compassion and selflessness.  
  4. Actions that may seem insignificant from the world’s perspective are very significant in God’s sight.  Who knows what kind of answer the lawyer in Luke 10 expected from Jesus.   Make sure you go to the temple daily? Pray at least three times a day?  Based on Jesus’ parable, helping the helpless is high on God’s list of significant acts of love.  You may not get noticed, and it will take time from what could be perceived as more productive activities, but caring for someone who is unable to help themselves is clearly very significant in God’s kingdom.  

We see this theme from Jesus in other passages as well.  In Matthew 25:37-40 Jesus said:  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

This is powerful hope for all those who are caring for others in the name of Jesus.  Name your adjective for care-giving: inconvenient, time-consuming, messy, difficult, diversion from a better job opportunity, discouraging at times, etc.   Jesus could have given many examples of what it means to love our neighbor, but He chose care-giving as an example for us, as so vividly illustrated in the parable of the good Samaritan.  

All of us, at one time or another, will have this opportunity.  May God help us see how important and eternally significant this is, and give us the grace and mercy to love our neighbor (mom, dad, child, friend, or assisted-living patient) in this way.  And we are thankful for our family, friends, and assisted-living staff who cared for mom so lovingly over these years.  

Perhaps you have an example of how a care-giving experience was used in your life to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.  Please drop us a note at blog@bcfministries.org.  If you need general information about BCF, you can access our home page at www.bcfministries.org.  If you have questions about this or other blog posts, please e-mail blog@bcfministries.org.  You may also subscribe to the blog by emailing that address and put “Subscribe to blog” in the subject line.

Steve Smith