|Volume 23 Number 6 June 2021
As Christians, we serve a wonderful and caring God who seeks to give us all that we need to adequately navigate lives in service to Him. He is described in 2 Corinthians 1:3 as the God of comfort, and such He certainly is – both through His Word and His promises. However, there is another reason mentioned why He is the God of comfort. It is so that we might also be able to comfort others as we have been comforted. This, of course, raises the immediate question, “Who needs our comfort?” An understanding of the answer to this question is pivotal to our ability to adequately fulfill our mandate as comforters.
There are many categories that could be considered. The first one that comes to mind for many people is responding to the physically needy. This is certainly one of the reasons God gave commandments concerning the need “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27). We are commanded to see to the physical needs of our brethren, as well as to those outside the body of Christ. Paul wrote, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10). Therefore, it is obvious that God intended for us to use our ability to comfort others who are physically needy.
A second category needing comfort are those who grieve the loss of a loved one. The time of grief is one in which the one grieving desperately needs the comfort. It is not an easy time to endure, but everyone will encounter grief at some point. However, the apostle Paul wrote that we are to comfort one another with his words concerning the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:18). He states that those individuals who die in a right relationship with God have nothing to fear, but at the second coming they will meet Christ in the air just as those who are alive (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Yet, such comfort will only be forthcoming to the children of God.
A third category of those who should be assisted with comfort are penitent sinners. It is sometimes amazing to see how people respond to those who repent of past transgressions. Some will say “He didn’t mean it” or “She’ll be right back at it shortly.” In such, there is no encouragement or comfort, only skepticism and criticism. However, Jesus stated that there should be rejoicing when the penitent return. All three of the parables in Luke 15 deal with the nature of finding something that was lost. When a lost and erring member of the body of Christ returns, he or she should not be met with skepticism but rather with encouragement and comfort for the decision they made. Peter stated that God “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, we must be ones who seek to comfort those who are weak but seeking to do right; thereby, they might be better equipped to stand against the wiles of the devil.
There are many different types of comfort, and all of them have their place. There is verbal comfort that we can provide through words as we comfort others. There is physical comfort, whether by bringing of food, a hug or something else; caring concern for others comforts them. There is also spiritual comfort, which God makes available to us through His Word. This comfort is as important as any other because it tells us how God views each situation man encounters.
May we ever strive to be the type of comforters we need to be. We need to be men and women who possess the demeanor of Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37; 11:22-24), who are willing to give not only of our physical means but spiritually for the betterment of others.
What Can Men Do Against Reckless Hate?
There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), so the times in which we live are nothing that haven’t been seen before. In particular, the polarizing that has happened over the last decade, which evolves into hatred and violence, is not new. In fact, it can be successfully argued that hatred and violence against those who are not like us is one of Satan’s oldest tools. Still the question lingers: “What can we do against such hate?” “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ ‘But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven’” (Matthew 5:43-45). On another occasion, a scribe heard an interchange between Sadducees and Jesus, and recognized that our Lord had answered them well. The scribe asked Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all? Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31). If more of us will play the part of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), then we can begin to make great changes.