It was a lovely lunch with a new friend. We spent the time sharing the deepest things in our lives. How is that possible the first time you sit down with someone? Same experiences? Maybe, but considering our age difference – we grew up in different times – probably not. Kindred spirits? Possibly.
A lady from the table next to ours leaned over and commented, “You two appear to be wonderful ladies. I couldn’t help but hear that you are sharing very personal experiences and that you are both listening and caring for one another. It’s a beautiful thing to see.” We shared that we had met through Bible study. She went on to say that she has been through lots of personal illness and trials with her son, yet none of her Christian friends want to hear about her problems.
This troubled me. What does it mean to “bear one another’s burdens?” Years ago I ran across a verse that I believe is the crux of biblical counseling, a plan of action for dealing with others:
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. -I Thessalonians 5:14
Not an easy formula, but helpful when you aren’t sure how to respond.
- Admonish the unruly
- Encourage the fainthearted
- Help the weak
- Be patient with everyone
Whenever you have been in a place of weakness, have you ever been admonished? Or been fainthearted and instead of receiving an encouraging word, you were either told how you’ve caused your own difficulties, or maybe someone wants to come in and clean your house. Now that wouldn’t be so bad, but all you really needed was some understanding. Or, worse yet, you have witnessed an unruly person being helped and encouraged by others to continue in his/her lifestyle. (I think the term is codependency) You know what I mean, a teenager who needs to be told about his bad behavior, possibly have the car keys withheld, something, and the parent continues to support his unruliness – He’s just a kid! Or holding the addict accountable, is this weakness or unruliness? Discern the situation and get him the help, or admonishment, he needs.
In my experience I have either received the admonishment when I needed encouragement, or I gave help when a kick in the rear would have been more beneficial. Identifying the root of the problem takes time. I think that’s why the scripture then says, be patient with everyone. Another way of saying it, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Patience with everyone won’t allow for quick words, or judgments. Hearing someone’s heart takes time. Dealing with others’ hurts takes a listening ear.
That’s why the lunch was so lovely. We spent three hours together and went away feeling we had both been loved. We heard one another’s hearts. Kindred spirits? If you mean the Holy Spirit, then Yes!
If there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. –Philippians 2:1-4