My right forearm has been giving me a bit of trouble the past couple of days.
Ever since two lymph nodes were removed from under my right arm two years ago, my right forearm becomes tender during warm weather months. It doesn’t happen on every warm weather day. It occurs most often when I am more active with my arm. Whenever I do significant arm exercises at the gym, more typing than usual, cutting up vegetables, or housework that requires heavy lifting, these are the times I feel my arm telling me that something isn’t quite right.
The forearm area begins to tingle and feels denser. It almost pulsates. It’s one of my “Remember, Heather? You had cancer,” type of moments.
So, I sit myself down. Or rather, John sits me down. I ice my arm with a frozen package of peas and take it easy for a while. In time, my arm stops tingling and everything seems to be in order again.
It’s something I need to do. I value my right arm. I need to take care of it. In fact, I’d be pretty lost without it. I am very right-hand dominant.
This past week, I’ve been pondering my attitudes, my expressions, and my actions in terms of how I love and serve people – not only here in southern Africa, but people in the States, and people I don’t even know.
How do I express the love of Christ to people and does it show?
Today, in my word study of rejoice, I was led to these words from Paul to the Corinthian Church:
But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need.
But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. New King James Version, 1 Corinthians 12: 20-26
These words resonated with me as I contemplated the difficulties I’ve been having with my arm lately. There is no way I would ever say to it, “I have no need of you.” I’m doing what I can to nurture it and keep it functioning.
My tummy fat, though?
There is no definitive need for it. I look upon it with disdain; even though it came and decided to stay put after the births of my three sons.
So, here we go. Are you ready? Here are two significant questions I take from Paul’s words:
- Who in this world do I care for and nurture because of the love and value I have for them?
And, okay, big intake of breath,
2. Who in this world may I look upon in disdain, jealousy, or judgment and as a result fail to engage with them?
Now, Paul was directing his letter to a church audience who was struggling with getting along with one another for one reason or another. A schism had been forged. This letter’s purpose was to encourage this body of believers to value and esteem everyone – not just because of what they could or could not do, but because of who they were in Christ. Paul emphasized that every member of the body of Christ held a specific form, purpose, and function. Even today, we sometimes allow ourselves to place more value on a person or work in the name of Christ and discredit the value and work of another. Even though, it all counts towards the Kingdom of Christ. We often place more honor towards what some one does than for who some one is.
And if the person represents something that we don’t necessarily value, condone or appreciate? Well, what do we do then?
Are we silent?
Are we vocal?
I think we fall into two different camps. We either keep our disdain quiet or we voice it – sometimes quite loudly.
Honestly, when have I ever talked about my ‘tummy fat?’
I don’t. I keep it to myself.
But I have definite thoughts about it. And those thoughts affect me.
So whether I am silent or not, my attitudes and thoughts overflow into my actions.
So, I ask myself again, “How well do I love people – no matter who they are and no matter what they do or do not do – in my sphere of influence?”
Because they are just as valuable – even more so – than my right forearm.
It is my contention, that if we really understood how connected and dependent upon each other we are – like I am upon my right forearm – we’d make more of an effort to show greater compassion and equal concern for whatever if going on in the life of the body of Christ. We would seek to know and understand each other better.
If the right arm tingled, the body of Christ would know about it and respond. We would reach out and care for the needs that we see and hear about and not just expect some one else to do something. We would suffer with those who suffer. We would mourn with those who mourn. We would rejoice with those who rejoice. We would love with those who love.
Jesus demonstrated this kind of love. He didn’t focus upon what some one did or did not do. His attention centered upon who they were and what they most needed – life in Him and life in His body. He chose to love those who others may have disregarded or looked upon with disdain.
His example on earth shows me the way. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” New International Version, John 13:34-35
The love of Christ can bridge every schism, mend every fracture, and heal every tingling forearm in the body of Christ. We have an opportunity to live a life that loves and esteems others with equal concern.
It is my desire to live this way inwards and outwards as a part of the body of Christ. And when my arm tingles? It will serve as a reminder to love and nurture those that my God brings my way.
After all, think of all the positive things that my tingling arm can do!
My arm can support.
My arm can build.
My arm can strengthen.
My arm can lift.
My arm can embrace.
My arm can be used to show the love of Christ as I type these words to you today. And that’s what my purpose is after all! I desire to encourage the hearts of others and unite them in love so that they may know the love of Christ.
Yes, my arm is tingling again. What does that mean to me now?
It’s time to love.