One of my dearest friends called yesterday afternoon to say how thankful he is for our relationship. Within ten minutes of that call an email arrived from a colleague expressing heartfelt gratitude for helping her with a recent teaching opportunity. Earlier in the day we were served by a small group of beloved saints who offered their time and talent in our behalf. What did each person have in common? They cared enough to express their love in tangible and intangible ways. Their care-full-ness was and remains a gift I will treasure deeply and with all my heart. Like the card company who coined the phrase, they too “cared enough to send the very best.” Their very best was their caring selves.
A caring heart is affectionate, helpful, and sympathetic toward someone or something that’s important to be concerned about. Those who serve in a caring profession express their care tangibly and attentively toward another, as a nurse, social worker, counselor, and/or physician might do. They “take care” to follow up on words with actions which embody and fulfill their care-giving. Likewise as believers, when invited to cast our cares upon God, we are urged to bring our worries, concerns, anxieties or fears to the One who desires to attend to them lovingly in our behalf. Whether by God or one of His emissaries, a caring heart is always a balm for our souls and is to be received as if they are the very arms and voice of God. Who among us doesn’t have such a need each day?
Nestled within The Great Commandment (Matthew 22: 37: loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength) and The Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19,20: as we go, making disciples of all nations) is what some would describe as The Great Compassion. It’s found in Matthew 25: 35, 36, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
In Jesus’ understanding of a caring heart the hungry are fed, the thirsty are given drink, the stranger is welcomed, the needy are clothed, the sick are attended, and the imprisoned are visited. Thus His admonition in Matthew 25: 40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” A caring heart not only serves those within our reach, but more importantly to those who are less likely to be on our radar screen…the least, the lost, and the left behind. Those who care enough to serve the impoverished are known as sheep by the Good Shepherd, but to those who ignore the needy are separated out as goats who are destined to eternal punishment.
In the gospels we read many stories of loving and caring hearts being expressed toward those in need. One of the most vivid is when a paralytic is being carried by his friends on a mat to lay him before Jesus to be healed. But when they noticed the crowd with Jesus was too large to enter the house, the stretcher bearers hoisted him up onto the roof and then proceeded to lower him on his mat through the roof tiles and into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus (Luke 5: 17-20). Their heroism of helpfulness came forth from their helpful and caring hearts. When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” and in that moment the presence and power of the Lord was offered to the paralytic, the faith of his friends were strengthened, and “everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today’” (Luke 5: 26).
Blessed is the one who has a caring heart, and then acts upon it empathetically toward another. It’s one thing to consider a caring action and another thing altogether to act upon such an intuition. A caring heart both feels for a person or a principle, and then puts feet to those emotive responses with words and actions in support of another. Who around you or within your reach is in need of your caring heart? How will you express your care-full-ness today?