When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Neh. 1:4)
OVER THE COURSE of this week, we have read the stories of great biblical leaders carrying the burdens of the people they were leading. We read of Paul’s heartache that his fellow Jews were rejecting the very source of true righteousness. Moses lay prostrate before the Lord for the very lives of his people. Ezra, overcome with emotion by the devastation of the beloved city of Jerusalem, wept bitterly before the Lord and called the people to repentance. Likewise, Nehemiah, desperately desiring the security and stability of the city of Jerusalem, had enough courage to go before a king to request the freedom to go and rebuild the walls around the city.
If one is not careful, the spiritual life can become self-centered. While it is proper and good to care for one’s own spiritual development, it is also important to realize that a main command of the spiritual life is to begin to put the needs of others before one’s own. A major characteristic of the mature Christian that is often not stressed is the characteristic of empathy. Paul, Ezra, and Nehemiah understood the dire situations of the people of Israel, and their hearts broke for them. They also took action, either through fervent prayer or physically meeting the needs.
The question for us is, how can we carry the burdens of others this upcoming week?
Bravely carry the burdens of others with empathy and grace.
Mark Moore is the spiritual formation pastor at Faith Legacy Church in Sacramento, California, and an auxiliary professor at William Jessup University.
© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.