by Margaret D. Mitchell
In this scripture, the Greek word for “support” is diakonos, which means to serve and to minister. Here, the women served the needs of Jesus and His disciples as attendants, according to their possessions. Diakonos is operational, which inherently implies contribution and actually doing the work. Think food, finances, influence, acts of kindness, conversation—whatever was required that they could give and do, they did and likely so with zeal. In the previous verse (2), we see that these women were healed and delivered. They, therefore, became bondservants of Jesus out of their grateful hearts.
This kind of support has purpose. It is foundational. It is an element of Kingdom-building. It fosters security, relationship and far-reaching effects. It boosts confidence and helps us feel connected. It is a gift of the heart poured out in practical ways that we can receive and give.
Recently, the Lord gave me a series of face-to-face engagements to simply sit with women and share in the pure joy of mutual stories, the kind of casual conversation that women used to share a whole lot during quilting bees and community service and sometimes still do. These common thread nuggets allow us to feel supported and supportive and help us feel connected in a relaxing, non-agenda way. Such times of restful connections are important, as they allow us to lift our heads from our usual focused work and share and receive fresh insight and inspiration.
Just a few days ago, I took time away from my laptop to sit with two women at an Operation Christmas Child distribution center. The function in which we served involved the simple task of preparing large coloring book pages and small boxes of crayons for others to stuff into donated Christmas shoeboxes for needy children. A friend sat next to me, and a lady I had never met sat across from me. Both were delightful. As we served one another with supplies, as we shared stories of our childhood Christmases, our family traditions and simple pleasures, a joy emerged as well as a bonding and a refreshing.
About a month ago, I sat next to a lady on an airplane who owned a quilting shop. I have never quilted anything in my life, but I was fascinated to hear about her business—her merchandise, her classes, her retreats and especially the camaraderie that exists among her loyal customers. She pulled out a project she was working to finish as a Christmas gift; and to my surprise, it wasn’t a quilting project at all; it was a crochet project. Since my mother taught me to crochet under a big shade tree in our yard when I was ten-years-old, her project especially warmed my heart. It caused me to reminisce, and I felt a sweet peace waft over me. As we shared about crochet design, the comparison of crocheting to knitting, quilt design and the fact that her mother-in-law taught her to quilt when she was a young adult, I knew that I was enriched by this fellowship encounter. I knew that I was not alone in one of my interests, and I appreciated the mental break from my intense ministry work.
God knows just what we need and when we need it. And He is faithful to order our steps to facilitate even the sweet, small elements that are dear to our heart.
All of us can use our God-given gifts, talents and resources to serve one another and to help build God’s Kingdom on earth. We don’t have to have a gift of helps or administration. A simple kind word, a choice of extending mercy and compassion, a shared testimony, a simple text—these are all seeds of support that will return a harvest.
In the Christian movie, Love Comes Softly, the big impact of supporting others by serving them what we have is illustrated. The main female character, Marty Claridge,turns to her new husband, Clark, to try to understand how what little she has to offer can prove pivotal in her relationship with her new stepdaughter and in her own life.
In Luke 8:3, we hear of women who were changed forever by one touch from Jesus; and, as a result, they provided support to Him and His disciples. In this way, freedom became personal and cyclical to them.
How is the Holy Spirit setting you up to support others? In what ways have you seen the cycle of support made personal in your life? What ripple effect has it had? Do you value the role of support?
When we are forgiven for much, we cannot help but love much. May the love of God flow out of us during this Christmas season and beyond. May it become a lifestyle.
Pray: Lord, open my eyes, my mind and my heart to receive Your fresh perspective in my daily life. Help me to be a support to others in the ways in which You have called and assigned me, according to what You have given me. When I need to lift my head from my focus, my tasks at hand, enable me to come willingly to receive and share, according to your purposes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ. This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, Enduring Grace. All rights reserved.