Growing up I had an older cousin, not to be named here, who was a bully.
You know the kind of person, who uses their power or strength to intimidate those younger or weaker. My grandmother lived in a very old house and on one occasion, both my cousin and I stayed over. All night long I was told of zombie-like people that lived in the scary Michigan basement. I offered to give him anything I had in exchange for him to shut up, but to no avail!
God's Word points us to act when someone is being marginalized. The 41st Psalm, verse one says, "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble." The word "regard" conveys a two-fold application.
First of all, we should give thought to the suffering of another. We should consider their circumstances and this contemplation naturally leads to deeper concern. Put their shoes on. How would you feel if you were in their predicament? Would you desire intervention? How could you truly be helpful?
Secondly, let this developed concern lead you to act. Sad feelings do not mean much if they do not lead to actions that change a situation. Having regard for the weak comes from God's heart about justice. God is all about fairness and he desires that we leverage our lives to bring about what is right and harmonious in our world.
Similarly, Thomas Jefferson once said, "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." Independence came to the United States because our Founding Fathers decided to resist intimidating powers. Our forefathers faced cruel and oppressive government rule, and they decided to leverage their lives for freedom from tyranny. Many of them paid a great price, some the ultimate price, in the pursuit of freedom. They took a risk for an ideal greater than themselves. And what was the result? The outcome for their sacrifice is a nation that has been blessed by God. The Psalmist says, "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble." You and I have benefited from their courage to act.
How are you living in a way that shows regard for the weak or the fragile in our community? I have given this more thought lately and it is amazing how many people could benefit from some care. Many need to have a sense that someone cares. Do you have the courage to do something?
But who are the weak in our community? We may think more traditionally when a thought like this is presented, like those who live at a homeless shelter or who are taking part in the various soup kitchens around our area. And we should not minimize those we should show regard for, but there are many more, some of whom are maybe inconspicuous to us.
Let me give just one example. Think of the student who may have a very difficult family life and may struggle with their studies. A young person like this may just need someone to listen to them read once a week or may need to be tutored academically, but equally importantly just needs an adult positively enforcing that they have great value. I want to challenge you to consider those around you who are struggling and discern how you should help them.
During the Revolutionary War people served side by side. What if we brought a revolution of sorts to our community? I have in mind an uprising where each of us has regard for the weak among us. This would bring about a great change. It would take courage and an abandonment of the status quo, but this type of regard would please God and together we would all enjoy God's blessing together.
Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 10 a.m. Sundays in the cafeteria building of North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and 10 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter @NormByers.