After we have an adequate contact with the Lord, allow Him to shine on us and expose us, and consecrate ourselves to Him, we need to pick up a burden to care for people and be genuinely interested in them to minister life to them.
In order for us to minister life to others for the increase of Christ in the church, we first need to have an adequate contact with the Lord by simply spending time with Him, listening to Him in His dealing with us, so that we may have His timely word to speak and sustain the weary ones (see Isa. 50:4-5).
We need to come to the Lord again and again throughout the day to listen to Him, receive from Him, and let Him shine on us. When the Lord has a way to shine on us, we are dealt with Him under His light; the result will be that we will be fresh and tender branches in the vine who bear fruit by abiding in the Lord all the time.
In the Lord’s light we are exposed to see who we are; our disposition is not at all flexible in caring for people, so the Lord exposes us, touches our disposition, and infuses Himself with His feeling, desires, and intentions into our being.
After we have spent time with the Lord to enjoy Him, listen to His word, and be shined on by Him, we need to go on and pick up a burden to care for people and be genuinely interested in them.
Picking up a Burden to Care for People: Spending and being Utterly Spent on Others
The result of our contacting the Lord and having His shining is that we pick up a burden before the Lord to care for people; we care for unbelievers, young believers, new believers, and weaker believers. We need to care for all kinds of people; we should care for others as nursing mothers and exhorting fathers (1 Thes. 2:7, 11).
When we preach the gospel by ministering life, we are fishers of men, and when we shepherd others by ministering life, we are feeders of lambs (Matt. 4:19; John 21:15).
Paul was a good pattern in caring for others; he saved and cared for the Thessalonians not only by his word but even more by his living, and he imparted to them not just the gospel but also his own soul with his living. Paul considered himself as a nursing mother cherishing and nourishing the Thessalonians, and as an exhorting father caring for them.
The way we should care for others is as parents do: through the gospel we beget spiritual children, and once they are born, we should care for them, cherish them in the Lord’s humanity and nourish them with His divinity, so that they may grow in life to reach maturity and become functioning members of the Body of Christ.
We all can pick up a burden to care for others; the teenagers can pick up a burden to care for the children, the students can pick up a burden to care for the younger ones, and the older saints can care for the younger saints.
No one may appoint us or assign us to do this, but we need to go to the Lord, the Head of the Body, have a thorough dealing with Him, and pick up a burden to care for people.
According to the divine economy of the Bible, if we desire to receive, we need to give. If we water others, we ourselves will be watered, and if we desire to grow in life, we need to help others to grow (Prov. 11:25). When we help others to grow in life, we ourselves will have the growth. The way to receive is to give, and the more we give, the more we receive (Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35)….We should not say that we can do nothing and are not useful. Rather, we need to say, “Satan, get away from me. I can do something, I have something, and I am useful in the Lord’s hand.”…When we say we have something, we add to what we have. Therefore, we should endeavor to water others and care for them. (Witness Lee, The Normal Way of Fruit-bearing and Shepherding for the Building Up of the Church, pp. 38-42)
We may think that we need someone to care for us, but as long as we love the Lord, enjoy Him, contact Him, and let Him shine on us daily, we can pick up a burden to care for people, and we will be cared for by the Lord by caring for others in the Lord.
The way for us to receive more of the Lord’s life supply and His shepherding is to care for others. As soon as we begin to care for others, we will receive the care; as soon as we flow out, life will flow in.
If we water others, we ourselves will be watered, and if we desire to grow in life, we need to help others to grow in life (Prov. 11:25; John 7:37-39). The way to receive is to give; the more we give, the more we receive.
If we turn our prayer from merely ourselves, our family, our situation, and our condition, to pray for others, we will receive what we desire. When Job prayed for his friends, God restored him (Job 42:10). When Abraham prayed for Abimelech to have children – and his wife gave birth, Sarah also had Isaac, the promised son (Gen. 20:17; 21:1-2).
Praying for others doesn’t depend on our condition; we may not be in a good condition, but if we pray for others rather than praying for ourselves, the Lord will cause us to go on with Him and grow in life.
When we pick up a burden to care for others we need to spend by sacrificing what we have, and be spent – by sacrificing ourselves – on their behalf; we need to spend and be utterly spent for others, and they will go on with the Lord – and we will also progress in the faith (see 2 Cor. 12:14-15; 1 John 3:16-18).
For the sake of being fruitful and for the ministry of life, we must deal with our disposition; our disposition – the depth of our self – is a great hindrance in caring for others, and it needs to be dealt with in order to be soft, bendable, flexible, and applicable to any situation.
Paul was such a person: his way of ministering life was by becoming all things to all men so that he might save some. He could contact any kind of person: religious people, sinners, gentiles, Jews, worldly people, etc.
We may be able to contact some people effectively but not others because our disposition is not dealt with and we are not flexible enough.
The Lord Jesus could contact many kinds of people such as prostitutes, tax collectors, notorious sinners, and common people; they all felt comfortable around Him. He was holy, yet any sinner could sit with Him.
We need to have more of the humanity of Jesus infused into us, and we need to have our disposition dealt with so that we may care for people according to Christ, not according to our disposition.
Lord Jesus, may we be those who pick up a burden to care for people as nursing mothers and exhorting fathers to be fishers of men and feeders of lambs, as You have told us. Lord, give us Your heart in caring for man. May we learn to water others so that we also may be watered, and may we help others to grow in life so that we may grow in life. Lord, may our prayer turn from merely focusing on ourselves to focusing on others so that they may grow in life. May we be like the Apostle Paul to spend what we have and be spent in what we are on behalf of people so that life may be ministered to them!
Learning to be Genuinely Interested in People by Bearing them before God in Prayer
According to our fallen disposition, most of us are not genuinely interested in people; we may ask others, How are you doing? but we may not really be interested to hear how others are doing…People know when our interest in them is genuine or not, and people respond when we take a genuine interest in them, but they do not appreciate when they are “our project”, our assignment.
In the church life we don’t want to “assign people” to others to care for them; we need to go before the Lord, deal with Him, let Him shine on us, and pick up a burden to care for people, asking the Lord to give us a genuine interest for them.
How can we have such a genuine interest in people? It is only the Lord Jesus who has a genuine concern and interest for men, for we are the apple of His eye. We need to spend much time with the Lord, be infused with Him, and allow Him to minister Himself to us; then, we can pray,
Lord, give me Your heart for men. You know I’m interested mainly in myself; give me Your heart and concern for people.
Such a prayer He wants to answer, for it is He who is genuinely interested in any kind of person (John 4:3-14; 31-34).
In the Old Testament the high priest had the breastplate and the shoulder pieces inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; whenever he went into the presence of God, he was bearing the people of Israel on his shoulders and on his heart (see Exo. 28:9-12, 15-21, 29).
Many in the church need our shoulders to bear them and our breast to embrace them in love (Rom. 12:15). We need to bear the saints on our shoulders and embrace them in love as we go in the Lord’s presence; when we pray, we need to have a list of saints and mention them before the Lord.
When they fall, we should weep, and when they rise up, we should be joyful. When we meet the saints we have been praying for, we will bear them in love and minister life to them.
Our focus in the church life shouldn’t be merely outward service but ministering life by caring for others. It’s not ushering, arranging chairs, arranging for home meetings, or doing clerical work that is the focus of our church life; these are the means or channels for us to take care of people and minister life to them.
The Lord cares for us in love; He has inscribed us, engraved us, in the palm of His hands, and He cannot forget us; He always lives to intercede for us. We need to have His heart infused into us and His concern for men will be our concern for them.
The problem with us is that we either don’t care for them or we care for them in a natural way, selectively and according to our preference and mood. We need to come to the Lord as our high priest and bear the names of the saints before Him, and when we meet others we need to be genuinely interested in them and minister life to them.
Lord Jesus, we want to learn to be genuinely interested in people. Give us Your heart for people. Infuse us with Your concern for men. May the saints be inscribed in our heart, and may those around us be engraved on our hands. Lord, may we be those who offer our shoulders to the saints to bear them and our breast to embrace them in love. May Your loving, caring, and shepherding heart be duplicated in us, and may we have a genuine interest in men so that we may minister life to them according to the need.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Mark R. for this week, and portions from The Normal Way of Fruit-bearing and Shepherding for the Building Up of the Church, ch. 3-4 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Increase of Christ for the Building up of the Church (2016 Memorial day Weekend Conference), week 3 / msg. 3, The Increase of Christ Being for the Increase of the Church by Ministering Life to Others according to the Law of Increase.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Hymns on this topic:
# We must ever preach the gospel, / Cherishing and nourishing; / Loving them as our dear children, / As our priestly offering. (Song on caring for men)
# But I, I will most gladly spend / And be utterly spent on behalf of your souls. / But I, I will most gladly spend / And be utterly spent on behalf of your souls. / If I love you more abundantly, more abundantly, / Am I loved less? / If I love you more abundantly, more abundantly, / But let it be so! (Scripture song)
# When I look back, what grief and shame / That I’ve brought none to trust Thy name, / Thy word I’ve locked within. / Oh, may the Lord anointing give / And richly through my being live, / That I may speak of Him. (Hymns #471)
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