March 23, 2017
READ: Philippians 2:1-18
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (v.4).
The speaker at our conference asked us to gather in groups of three with people we had never met. He told us to each take one minute to tell the others about ourselves and share the story of one person we wanted God to bless. One man said he wanted God to bless his wife who was battling cancer while she cared for her invalid mother. Another praised God for healing his wife’s cancer but said he was concerned for his adult son who was far from God.
If this had been a typical session, we would have left as we came in—as strangers. But because the speaker asked us to share something personal, we made an immediate and intense connection.
I left the session wondering what other stories are out there. Most people are struggling with something significant while also rejoicing about something else. Everyone needs prayer—either to celebrate God’s goodness or to seek God’s grace. It isn’t wise for us to walk up to strangers and demand that they open up, but we can be aware that each person has unexpressed yearnings. May we learn how to “share [these] burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
One way to prepare to share others’ burdens is to humbly put them first, reflecting Jesus’ humility. Rather than trying to impress others with our own stories or witty comments, may we ask questions and then really listen to what they have to say (Philippians 2:3; James 1:19). If they’re hesitant to share, may we remain “patient with everyone”, permitting each to open up at their own pace (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).
As we actively seek to hear the stories of others, we can grow to truly love and care for them—relying on God to help us imitate His ways.—Mike WittMer
365-day plan: 1 Samuel 9:1-21
Read Job 16:1-22 and consider what you should do and what you should avoid when comforting and listening to someone.
Who needs you to listen to them? Make time for them today. How does sharing our stories with one another help us advance Jesus’ kingdom?