by Matt Schroeder
I recently had a conversation with a brother who told me about how he spent his entire quiet time with the Lord in prayer for a brother God laid on his heart. He told me how he was quite burdened for the things his friend was walking through, and wanted to be able to encourage and lift him up, however God would use him. So, he spent the whole time reading Scripture and praying for his friend.
What struck me about what my friend did was that he went home and spent time before the Lord seeking wisdom, understanding, compassion, and love for his friend. He certainly gave his encouragement and wisdom to the brother in the moment of their conversation, but he also went home to sit before the Lord about it. I think we can often jump to dishing out wisdom, thoughts, encouragement, and advice without ever sitting before the Lord and seeking His voice. Now, we certainly have many things that enable us to be able to give on-the-spot words for the situation, namely, God’s Spirit who lives within us (John 16:13); and His Word being stored in us. So, I truly believe we can and should encourage and comfort our friends in the moment of conversation. I also think there can be tremendous value in sitting before the Lord in silence seeking His voice on matters.
Now, I don’t know if you are like me, but the biggest obstacles that keep me from walking in a practice such as this would be selfishness and laziness. It is convicting on a personal level, because it makes me start to realize I don’t spend much time in general sitting before the Lord seeking His voice on things. So, if I don’t do it for myself, then it’s going to be hard for me to do it for another person. But past that, it requires time; it requires sacrificing time I would have spent doing something else now being spent on another person. And I think it also requires a great deal of love for the person.
It reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote speaking to the issue of humility:
Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, swarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seems a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
I’m learning more and more how true humility is not about self-deprecation or putting myself down. Rather, it’s about my ability to let go of myself and grab onto loving Jesus and other people. It’s not about thinking less of myself; it’s thinking about myself less. And if I’m thinking about myself less, then I’m free to think about others more.
So, practical steps. I would encourage you to take some time to think about someone in your life who you love and cherish. Maybe your spouse, child, co-worker, brother, mother, or roommate. And spend time in silence before God asking Him, “God, what are you concerned about for (person) ?” Ask Him, “what struggles have they walked through recently that I can be an encouragement to?” And I encourage you to not try to think of them yourself or assume you already know the answer. Rather, try to clear your heart and mind to truly hear from the Lord.
May we increasingly be a people who seek to love others and love Jesus!