"When Jesus saw THEIR faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart son; your sins are forgiven'"
My daughter is only 2. Some of the difficulties of being only 2 is that she walks veeerrrryyyyy slowly. Even when she is motoring along at a decent pace, it never lasts long, because there are too many distractions. We took a family walk on the beach yesterday and about 1 minute in I realized that she was going to have to get carried if we were going to get anywhere.
For what felt like a long long long walk, we journeyed over the beautiful white sands. My wife claims we didn't walk that far, but she didn't have a 30 pound toddler squirming on her shoulders. To make matters worse, that precocious little girl did not appropriately align her weight with my shoulders, she leaned hard against my head, putting all the strain on my neck. This morning, I have a sore neck.
It was worth it!
She can't get very far on her own. If we had just kept walking at a pace we were comfortable with, we would have lost her about 2 minutes into the walk. We would have reached our destination, but it wouldn't be the same without my little princess. Though it wasn't "easy", I wouldn't give up her being with me for anything. Not to mention, that the reason she leaned so hard on my head was because she kept giving it hugs!
Jesus took notice of THEIR faith. There was only one man in this story who was a paralytic, but Jesus recognized the faith of the men who carried their friend. We actually do not hear any sort of commendation from Jesus to these faithful friends, He gets right to the work of forgiving and healing.
We so often treat faith as an individualistic experience. We walk alone. We grow alone. We minister alone.
Even if there is someone else in the room.
I believe this little snapshot of friendship gives us a real convicting challenge. Are we willing to carry those in our lives to a place where they can experience saving faith? No one journeys towards Christ alone in a closet secretly. It is most often through the loving encouragement and fellowship of those who are currently "stronger" that leads us to healing.
A couple of examples of people you should be willing to "carry":
1) The hurting friend. Something is going on in their life that causes them to just crumple to the floor. Are you wrapping your arms around them and being the friend they need to get through "this".
2) The backsliding friend. Are you willing to speak truth into their life? To help them get on track with truth and life? The friend in sin often knows it. They just get lost in it. Do you love them enough to enter into their experience and walk them back?
3) The unbelieving friend. You can lead a horse to water.......It is true that you can't make anyone, through your power, come to Christ, but you can love them so deeply and selflessly that they see Christ's truth come near because you have "carried" them to Him through your love for them.
Who are you willing to "carry"?
How about yourself? Do you know that you need to be carried towards Jesus more than you care to admit? You cannot just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get yourself there. So often our own weaknesses and sins get our feet stuck...paralyzed...somewhere. Who are you letting into your life to carry you when you can't pick up your feet?