Day 13 – The Critical Difference between Being Responsible for Others and Responsive to Them

Mark 3:1–6  

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Consider This

The Holy Spirit always brings life. Always. When the Holy Spirit inhabits a person, the person becomes a force for goodness and life. We see this in perfection through the life of Jesus.

What does it look like when the Holy Spirit fills our spirit? Jesus reveals this to us in complete perfection. No matter where Jesus goes, the Holy Spirit constantly alerts him to human need. In today’s text, Jesus enters the synagogue and immediately notices the man with the withered hand. In fact, everywhere he goes he notices people in need.

Children have a hard time looking away from people in need. The older we get, though, the easier it is to block them out. Why? Because we feel burdened by the needs of others. And herein lies the problem. We make the mistake of thinking we are responsible for other people, and because we can’t carry that burden, we protect ourselves from them. The easiest way to do this is to simply stop noticing them.

What if we stopped feeling responsible for other people in need and began to approach them with the simple question of how the Holy Spirit might want to be responsive to their need through us? Sometimes, it’s as simple as seeing them as a fellow broken human being and not just a human need.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to helping other people, I feel extremely limited in my capacity. In becoming a human being, God, who has no limitations, severely limited himself. Jesus was fully God and yet he was a single person and thereby accordingly limited. He could only be in one place in one time and he could only engage with a limited number of people each day. As a single human being he could not be present to the entire human race, but he could be profoundly responsive to the people he was with—and he was.

It gets better. A single person on an ordinary Friday is lifted up on a single cross and buried in a single tomb and is raised from the dead and ascends into heaven. He sent the Holy Spirit and as a result of this singular event, an unlimited number of people can receive the gift of salvation and eternal life.

Something happens when we become profoundly present to another person in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Human limitations become transcended by divine Presence. The power of this not only blesses the recipient but also the giver, and beyond that, the blessing extends to everyone who ever hears about it. Think about the impact these stories about Jesus are having on us two thousand years later.

People regularly write me and tell me stories along these lines about a person from their present or who has long since passed who was responsive to them in a very human way that had a divine impact. Every time these stories are told, it’s like the miracle happens all over again.

The guy with the withered hand? He had no idea what would come of that day.

The Prayer

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

The Questions

What would it mean for you to be less responsible for other people and more responsive to them?