Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor,
doing honest work with his own hands,
so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
No, this post is not assuming we are all ex-convicts. The principle in this verse is striking to me, however, so I thought we could take a minute to think about it today.
Why do we work? We do honest work to have something to share with those in need.
Yes, we love our neighbor through the work that we do — serving, supporting, etc. We also love our neighbor with the proceeds as well.
Our work may produce actual produce (farmer’s market, anyone?), or a meal or a clean house for hospitality. Our work may result in paychecks — money that is used to provide physical needs for ourselves and others. Our work may be creating tangible items that others need and will use. Our work may be continual service: cleaning up, helping, lifting, protecting, etc. The possibilities go on and on.
Whatever the situation, what a gift God has given His children! On a daily basis, we have the opportunity to love as we fulfill our usual responsibilities. It’s not just drudgery. It’s a way to reflect the work of God in our own work and love others as He has loved us.
…through love serve one another.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
We each have plenty of personal responsibility — lots to carry ourselves, so to speak. So how can we fulfill God’s design of loving each other, serving and carrying burdens?
Keep an eye out
For myself, I’ve had to realize that the hardest part is seeing an opportunity. There’s plenty to do, stuff I truly need to do. It takes effort to take my eyes off of those things and also make time and space for others. It is important to keep my eyes open and really see those around me. Is a coworker coming into the office (or a video conference) looking overwhelmed? Is the neighbor who faithfully walks every morning absent for the last two days? Is a child struggling with social connections?
Elementary, but so powerful. We may often start the day with prayer for ourselves and our needs, but did we also pray for our coworkers and their success? A problem shared with us may not have any possible response other than a listening ear and a promise to pray; that promise is easy to give and important to keep.
Margin for service
If there is no time to ever help anyone, perhaps the schedule needs to change. Margin makes time to respond as we see people or as things happen. A day that is not crammed full, every minute, lets us fit in acts of service, big and little.
Share the load
We ARE in this together. God created community, and we benefit from it. Encourage a friend in good works, and you will likely receive similar encouragement back. Team up with friends to help another friend. Many hands make light work. Seek out people who will help you get better at seeing and serving others.
There are so many more ways to love each other. What helps you?