Leaning on each other: it’s what we do
It is what we do.
It may even be what we do best.
We lean on each other.
As we walk right into Thanksgiving and what some seek as a razzle dazzle Christmas that follows, we realize some of our relationships are good and some of our relationships are, well, complicated. To this, I offer this four-part column series on how we can help others be thankful this month.
In the past two weeks, I have shared we can listen and learn from each other. When we listen and learn to intentionally hear and then understand someone, then the one heard and understood is blessed, thankful.
This may sound obvious, even simple. What is neither obvious nor simple is a phrase found in Galatians 6. Here Paul, the author of Galatians, mentions “the law of Christ (6:2b).”
Scholars offer different insights into what, exactly, is this law of Christ. What most biblical experts agree on is “the law of Christ” likely refers to the two commandments Christ Jesus shares: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Matthew 23:37 which repeats Deuteronomy 6:5)” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:21 which echoes Leviticus 19:18.”
Paul argues that the law given to Moses at Sinai does not speak specifically to those who believe in Christ (Galatians 2: 15-21, 3:10-14, 3:23-26, 4:4-5 and 4:21:5-6). Paul then appeals to the Galatians. He advises his listeners to hold to a Christ-like mindset by walking in the Spirit (5:16, and chapter 16), and being led by the Spirit (5:18).
A way to walk in the Spirit and be led by the Spirit is to lean on each other. When we lean on each other, we listen and we learn. When we listen, learn and lean on each other, misunderstandings are overcome. Connections that may have been shaky are solid. Joy that seemed so far away is suddenly close and shareable.
In an October 2014 online article titled, “When You Don’t Understand, Lean on Jesus,” Ernest Angley speaks to leaning on Jesus, particularly when it comes to listening and to learning. Angley doesn’t say this outright but suggests the best listener we can learn from is Jesus Himself.
Angley shares peacekeeping wisdom, yet I respectfully disagree with him when he writes, “You can bring troubles upon yourself when you are not justified in the eyes of God. When you accuse God or blame Him for things, you will not get His help; and He will back away.”
I cannot imagine God backing away. The God I know and experience firsthand never backs away. Ever. Backing away, turning a shoulder, or keeping distant or silent is not what God does. In fact, this is the opposite of what God does. God pursues. God persists.
And God is also patient.
I do agree with Angely when in the article he adds we can also get into trouble when we do not use God’s wisdom. Angley sites James 1:5, “‘If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking (NLT).”
God’s wisdom comes from His Word. His wisdom and compassion also come when we listen to, learn from and lean on each other.
God’s Word also directs us. Scripture can even challenge us to move from places of despair to soft landings of comfort. How? We can lean on each other.
Lean on someone. Go ahead. Give them your weight. Expect the same weight—or even more weight—back.
No one is alone when it comes to gray days or melancholy moments. We can all blanket, cover, ignore, or simply move as if this is fine, or somehow okay.
But something far better to do is to lean on someone. In turn, let someone lean on you.
And for this you will both be thankful.