One of the biggest hallmarks of the Savior’s ministry on Earth was His capacity to love and serve all those around Him. Many of the stories we read about Him involve physically healing the sick. But what is interesting to note is that He did not just heal the bodies of these people, but their spirits as well.
In Mark 2:1-12, it describes the time when a man with palsy was brought to Christ by several friends. There was such a crowd around the house where Christ was teaching that the man’s friends carried him up to the roof, pulled up the tiles, and lowered him down to make sure he could reach Christ. They desperately wanted healing for their friend.
But the first thing Jesus said to this man with palsy was that his sins were forgiven him. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus’s priority with this man was to forgive him and heal his spirit, not his body? Though He did heal the man’s body as well, I think there’s an important lesson here – spiritual need is just as important to take care of as physical and temporal need. We may know this, but do we remember it?
Spiritual Needs That Must Be Met
When Alma the Elder escaped from King Noah and began teaching other people, it didn’t take long for all of them to want baptism. When Alma taught those people about baptism, he said that these were the responsibilities of those who were baptized:
8… ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.Mosiah 18:8-9
These are spiritual needs – comforting those who need comfort, mourning with those that mourn, bearing each other’s burdens – which we have covenanted with God to care for. As members of this church, we know that we are all children of God. That makes us family, and that means that we have a responsibility to each other, both in and out of the church, to love and serve both temporally and spiritually.
This is why, within the church, we have wards and stakes, ministering, and so on – so we can find the needs of others and address them.
Elder Holland has stated,
I also know that although I may not be my brother’s keeper, I am my brother’s brother, and “because I have been given much I too must give.”Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Are We Not All Beggars?”, October 2014
Now the question that comes to mind is, What can we do to help those who are spiritually in need? We can’t forgive sins the way Christ did to the man with palsy. But we know from Mosiah 18 that we have a responsibility to care for those spiritually in need.
How to Care for the Spiritually Needy
Let’s consider some other people who played a role in Mark 2. The man with palsy did not come to Christ by himself He couldn’t. Instead, there were four other men who willingly carried him to Jesus, because they knew that Jesus could heal their friend.
The faith of the friends played a major role in the healing of the man with palsy. They physically helped their friend to Christ, and we can do the same thing, spiritually, with our friends now. Helping people to Christ is the best way we can love them. And while we cannot forgive the sins of our friends and associates, we can forgive them for sinning and for hurting us. We can look past the differences in our lives and see each other as beloved children of God.
The love of Christ heals in a way that nothing else can. His love is what heals us spiritually. And often His love works through us to reach others, to lift them, and to bring them back to Him.
We all know people who need this love. It might even be us. I challenge you to find someone you can share the love of Christ with. I promise that doing so will heal them and heal you.
“How many of us are sleeping when those around us are hurting and are in need? How many of us give our testimonies of the Lord, but then do not listen, as in 1 Jn. 4:20, “For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?””Elder Robert D. Hales, “Lessons from the Atonement That Help Us to Endure to the End,” October 1985
That kind of love is the practice of our religion. It begins with a love of God that is first in our lives and culminates in the Christ-like love of those around us. It’s seeing people who feel invisible, reaching out even when it feels uncomfortable, and accepting each other as God’s children even when we are different.
How has the love of another helped you find strength and hope in Christ? How have you been able to lift others with Christ-like love? What can you do this week to love and care for those in need?
4 thoughts on “Caring for the Spiritually Needy”