“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full,” you find yourselves cared for.” Matthew 5:7 MSG
Care for others. Such a simple command feels so complicated.
As I sit here, trying to think of a story to tell about how I cared greatly for someone else, or how someone cared greatly for me, I draw a blank. Not that I don’t care about people, or that others don’t care about me; but it feels like we tend to embrace random acts of kindness instead of a “care-full” life.
In her book, The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp proclaims: “learning the art of living is learning the art of giving.”
Jesus certainly demonstrated that for us during His time on earth. When someone needed Jesus, He went. He didn’t spend time debating what it would cost him in time or reputation. He didn’t make excuses about being tired or busy; He just went.
Matthew 5:7 is Jesus saying, “Follow me. Do what I do.” But Ann picked up on an important aspect of the “care-full” life; it must be learned. Caring for others is an art; something we should study, practice, and develop over time. Yet, with a few simple steps, we can start today.
5 Simple Steps to Care for Others
Philippians 2:4 says: “Let each of your look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV) If caring for others came naturally to us, Paul would never have penned these words.
So begin by asking God to help you be other oriented. Ask Him to help you see other people’s needs and to fill your heart with love and compassion.
2. Reach out
If you are introverted like me, this step is extra scary; but what I’ve learned is many people long for someone to reach out to them—to notice them and say, “I want to know you.”
Jesus was an expert at noticing those who needed Him. When He entered Jericho, a man named Zacchaeus was so desperate to see Jesus that he climbed a tree just to get a glimpse of Him. When Jesus saw him, He said “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5b ESV).
Can you image Zacchaeus’ joy? Jesus not only saw him, but said, “I am choosing you.” We can offer others the same joy through an invitation to spend time together. Ann Voskamp explains it this way:
“Spending yourself is how you pay attention to joy; spending yourself is how you multiply joy.”
Think about the people in your life and chose one to reach out to today. Ask them out for coffee, or over for dinner. A simple action can be a huge impact.
3. Be present
Connecting with others is easier than ever, yet so many women suffer from loneliness because we aren’t getting one-on-one, face-to-face interaction with those who care about us. Often it feels like we just aren’t important enough to receive someone’s attention.
The bleeding woman in Luke 8 felt this way, too unworthy to take up Jesus’ time. So I think Jesus surprised her when he stopped and called her forward. Looking right in her eyes, He said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luke 8:48).
And while Luke doesn’t tell us more of the story, I would guess the woman experienced some heart healing in addition to her physical healing; all because Jesus took the time to be present with her.
Take Jesus’ lead and surprise people by being present. Don’t check your phone. Don’t worry about your to-do list. Just sit, listen to their story, and offer encouragement.
4. Meet needs
We all have needs that exceed our capacity, but few of us are brave enough to ask for help. Instead we pray and hope someone will notice we are downing and offer a helping hand. So be that hand—that answer to prayer.
Look for needs you can meet in the lives of those around you. Does someone need a listening ear? Do they need a carpool for their kids? A meal dropped off? Or someone to study the Bible with? Do they just need two hours without their toddler? (me! Me!)
God intends for us to use what we have for the good of others.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18 (ESV)
A true lifestyle change means repeating steps 1-4 over and over again, as long as we are able.
“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 (ESV)
My favorite part of Matthew 5:7 is the promise that when you care for others “you find yourself cared for.” When we turn our focus outward, and spend ourselves on others, we find ourselves full.