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Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Life Full of Others

We need other people. God made us to be social creatures who interacted and helped one another. The first "not good" thing that God said was, "It is not good for the man to be alone." Marriage was instituted at the most basic level to have a corresponding helper.

Moses was told by his father-in-law that it was not good to work alone. He told Moses to select others who would help him make decisions. Moses wore out both himself and the people. He needed other people.

The Old and New Testaments tell us to love others. It is basic to loving God. Our love of others reveals our love of God. We cannot love God and hate others. This love is to be basic to our relationship with God so that we understand that we need to love one another.

Paul tells us to bear each other's burdens. We are to help those who are struggling. It means that they need us but it also means we our need for loving and helping others is fulfilled. We need to help those whom we see in need.

Paul also tells us that we need to gently correct others when we see them caught in a sin. It is as if they have been tangled in a vine at the bottom of the sea. They will "spiritually" drown unless we help them. Each of us needs to be corrected some time. Even pastors need to be corrected. Unfortunately, people often give pastors a pass when they see the danger signals. That is why so many pastors get themselves in so much trouble. We need others who love us enough to correct us.

It is absolutely clear that we need each other. God made us that way. So, why do we want to carry our burdens alone.

Earlier this year I did a funeral of a lady I had never met. She had no church, no family, no social group and no organizations she had joined. A neighbor was holding her funeral service.

I always arrive early to any service I perform. I think it is disrespectful to make the family anxious because the preacher comes in the nick of time. I was at the service about forty-five minutes early. The neighbors (a couple who had known her deceased husband) arrived early too. I thanked them for caring for this lady because there would have been no one if they hadn't held this service.

They said to me, "You don't understand. Two hours before her husband died, he asked us to have this service. We agreed and we're doing it, but this woman didn't like us. She didn't like anyone. She didn't like any of the other neighbors and they didn't like her. We're the only people coming so why don't we go ahead and get this thing over with!"

No one cried but this was the saddest funeral service I ever performed. Hers was a sad life. There would be no one who would remember her. There was no one to grieve. She lived a life void of others. It was never how she was intended to live. It was an empty life. There were no accomplishments to read. There were no deeds of kindness to recount. There was no one who stood to tell how his life was better because of this woman.

We were created to be social. We were created to be spiritual. We were created for fellowship with God and others. Yet, I know people who merely come to church without joining a small group. They are trying to sail their ship alone. They just won't be able to do so adequately. They may wander from port to port but they will always know there is something missing.

The love that God wants us to share with each other is meant to be personal. It takes a personal relationship with others to have this love. You have to get to know people to ask them to help you. You have to get to know people to have meaningful conversations. You have to get to know people to correct them or have them correct you.

We need each other. Make sure you have a small group of spiritual individuals whom you love and love you.  God intended our lives to be full of others.

1 John 3:14 (ESV)
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

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