"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6. 2
I woke up yesterday and realised that we are into Christian Aid Week and I had failed to make any mention of it in church on Sunday! Yet this is the annual opportunity to remind ourselves of the outrage which we should never forget: that in a world of plenty many do not have enough.
It is said that one should put one's own house in order before criticising others. We are quick to blame God when things go wrong, yet he has made us in his image and given us stewardship of creation. Until we learn how to care for, and share, this generous inheritance we have so right to question the Lord's integrity.
How we deploy our own resources reveals the state of our hearts. So what does the proportion of time, money and energy we are prepared to put aside during this Christian Aid week say about our compassion for people who are struggling, especially those who inhabit difficult and dangerous situations? We will probably never meet them but, in many cases, we are related through the water of Baptism which, in the family of faith, is thicker than water.
Tithing (giving away a tenth of one's income) is a controversial issue in the church. While it is true that we are no longer under legal obligation to make this sacrifice, that doesn't mean we shouldn't give. Rather it means that we are free to give as much as we like! Many baulk at giving away 10%; it seems so much. Well, look at it another way: would you be satisfied to live on 10% of what you currently give away?
Another significant feature of this day in particular, which has not eluded my awareness, is that it is International Nurses Day. Nurses are enjoying a high profile during the current emergency. They already had our hearts (everybody loves nurses); now they have our respect. Our respect and affection for nurses says something encouraging about society - in terms of what we cherish.
In his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul defines the instinct to care as "the law of Christ". There is irony in this because, in the same letter, he rails against legalism (observing rules for their own sake). The difference lies in where our hearts are: in our own comfort or in compassion for others? Let International Nurses Day and Christian Aid Week bring out the best in us. Then pray that God would nurture that "best", so that we shall grow ever closer into the likeness of our Saviour and Lord.