I often drive in the city where a bright yellow caution sign on a six-foot pole catches my eye. It’s by the small side street where the School for the Blind stands. Once in a while I spot an instructor assisting a student with a visual impairment in navigating his or her way around the community. That scene reminds me of my heavenly Father who, like the instructor, guides me through His Word which navigates my life. In the midst of my journey, I find him guiding me to care for family and friends in time of need. Sometimes I wonder if there are other areas of need I have yet to discover. Am I willing to take that extra step to search for the weakest in my community or church family and intervene? How can I cultivate a heart that is sensitive to the weakest in my midst? John 15:3-4 tells us about abiding in Christ as He abides in us. A fruit tree cannot bear fruit in and of itself unless it abides in the vine.
The metaphor of Christ as the vine and His disciples as the branches is relational. My relationship with the Lord is an outgrowth of my heart’s desire to know and perform His will in my life. The more I read and meditate on His Word, the more of His Word nourishes my heart through the power of the Holy Spirit. The working of the Spirit may also cause some pruning to take place in areas of my life as a means of producing a more usable servant. It is predominantly through the Scriptures, however, that the Lord engineers this process. His words are “breathed out by God and are profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15). When the Word penetrates the mind and heart, it influences behavior. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that God’s Word is living and active. Therefore, the living and active Word can functionally prepare my heart as I walk in obedience to it. Obedience, then, is the reflection or hallmark of a heart that is being effectively cultivated for His use. As a result, His commands become the object of my delight.
Jesus taught us another aspect of how we may approach the weakest among us when He helped us redefine who is our neighbor. This was illustrated in His parable of the Good Samaritan. I tend to think of my neighbor as one who dwells in my community. For them, I may pick up their turned over bins blown by the wind on trash day, or deliver their mail left at my doorstep, or shovel the snow on their part of the sidewalk during those wintry afternoons.
I have learned, however, that my neighbor is not just one who resides in my immediate community. My neighbor may also be a weak or fallen saint in the body of Christ. My neighbor may be a spiritually debilitated teen who needs me to walk with her a mile or two. My neighbor may be the family with a child or adult with special needs who can use my support. Or my neighbor may be a visitor looking for peace to whom I can introduce the good news of Jesus Christ. In the parable, Jesus instructed us to love “…your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27b), as He gave the example of the Samaritan compassionately coming to the aid of a Jewish victim of assault and robbery.
Ultimately, I am cultivating a heart for the weakest among us when I am in submission to the will of God. As my Shepherd, He “… makes me lie down in green pastures, … leads me beside still waters, …restores my soul and leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:2.3). His guidance in paths of righteousness causes my soul to flourish. As I continue to walk in His Word, it prepares my heart to serve.
The weakest among us should not need a bright yellow caution sign to inform me that I am entering pathways where they may linger. My persistent feasting on His Word nourishes and grows my heart through the power of the Holy Spirit. At that moment when those in need cross my path, my Father will have equipped me to reflect His compassion and care for them.