Saturday, December 02, 2006


Heart: Caring
No, It is not Valentine’s Day. The subject of this blog is the value of Caring, the fifth of six values promoted by The Character Counts foundation.


Caring occurs at many levels and in many different ways. Because of this, it is hard to define in a succinct sentence. For the purpose of this discussion, I shall restrict myself to “caring for people,” although we also should care for animals, our environment, and property. I have highlighted the word in RED because Red is the colour ascribed to it by the Character Counts! Foundation.



What springs to mind when I think of CARING is the relationship between a parent and a child. Either the parent cares for the child, in terms of the child’s physical and emotional needs, or later in life, the child is caring for his or her parent in a similar way. It is widely accepted and expected that a parent should take care of his her child, provide food, shelter and clothing and then beyond an atmosphere in which the child can develop intellectually, physically and emotionally. A parent provides security for the child and a parent does his or her best to shield their child from harm.


Not wanting to undermine or diminish the familial obligation to care, it does stretch beyond that.


If we look in the Bible, we can see many examples of caring:


Pharaoh’s Daughter & Moses.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.


Then his sister [Miriam] asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”


“Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”- Exodus 2:5-10


Shobi, Makir and Barzillai bring needed supplies to David and his men during the revolt of Absolom;

When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.” – 2 Samuel 17:27-29


These are just two examples, in the Old Testament that speak of people who showed compassion, and as a result took practical steps to help. Clearly, God used these people, in circumstances that God’s people found themselves. Clearly Pharaoh’s daughter was not Jewish. As I will point out in the next blogs,


Caring should be not be reserved for our own families, or even our own racial, ethnic or cultural group, but should be extended to everyone.


 Pharaoh’s daughter did not focus on the fact that Moses was a Jew, though the text makes it clear that she knew he was one of the Hebrew babies, but what she focused on was that there was a baby in need. Yes the Lord moved in her heart and so orchestrated the situation to bring about his desired result, just as he may call on you to be caring to fellow human being who needs your help.


I had not previously read this story of Shobi, Makir and Barzillai.


The son of Nahash. Nahash, king of the Ammonites was no friend of the Jewish people. It is not clear here if the word “son” is literally implied, or meaning descendent of Nahash but the point to note in this context is that Shobi was not Jewish. Interesting background on Nahash can be found in 1Sam. 11 and 12:12


Son of Ammiel. He was Jewish. He lived in the land of Lo Debar (meaning pastureless). Makir cared for Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan from the time he was a child of 5 years old into adulthood. It would be reasonable to assume that Makir took on the role of foster father of Mephibosheth when he was brought to him. Some years later, David called for Mephibosheth, and to honour his covenant with Mephibosheth’s father and David’s very close friend, Jonathan, David took steps to ensure that Mephibosheth was provided for the rest of his life. You can read it in 2 Samuel 9:1-13 . Looking at the timeline, we can safely assume that Makir was by this an old man.


Described as a Gileadite , Barzillai was of the half tribe of Mannasseh. Gilead, the place, was east of the Jordan River. Could it be that Barzillai was regarded as a bit of an “outsider?” We read more about Barzillai in 1 Sam 19 where the account of David’s return to the palace. We learn from that passage that Barzillai was an old man, 80 years old.


Two or possibly three old men, one of them not Jewish, came to the aid of David and his men. They brought much needed supplies to them. Sometimes, we are tempted to make excuses as to why we are not in a position to help or care, but these three men serve as an example of how they served despite their age, or their social status. They may not have been able to become fighters alongside David, but their role of bringing food to David and his men, was as essential as the role of those on the frontline. We should not waste time bemoaning the fact that we can’t help in some “BIG” way, but see what we CAN do and know that our contribution is important too.


Caring, is I think a value in life that demands more of us than the other values we’ve been discussing. If you love someone, caring comes as a natural outflow of that love.


John 13:34 – [Jesus said,] “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


1 Corinthians 12:25b-26 “..., but that its parts [parts of the Body – the Church] should have equal concern for one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.


1 Corinthians 13:3-4 “If I give all I possess to the poor….but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind, …”

In other words Caring without love is a waste of time, but love is caring.


Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


James 2 – The whole chapter has relevance, but I highlight just verses 15 to 17: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you say to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith, by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead”


1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift he has received  to serve others, faithfully administering God’s Grace in its various forms.


1 John 4: 19-21 “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must love his brother. (I need to point out that Peter was not speaking merely about blood-relative, but anyone and everyone.)


The quintessential text about caring is the story of the Good Samaritan. We will examine the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the next blog.


Coming Soon, to a computer screen near you!

The Good Samaritan


1 comment:

Darius from Ecuador said...

Hi there John, my South African brother in Christ!

I have to say that you keep a very interesting and educational blog here. I personally have benefited so much from your teachings as well as my mom. She doesn´t speak English at all so I translate all to her in Spanish. She also thinks you´re a guy who makes the teachings applicable and challenging and also friendly to understand....!

I haven´t read your last blog yet, I will..., BUT I did read your March 20, 2007 on Pesach - Passover. I shared that with my sister and mom. They really loved it!

Keep it up, John! (Juan or Juanito in Spanish)

Dario from Ecuador!