My shoulders and back were sore, partly from shoveling snow in the driveway. My wife walked by. I asked her if she could rub my shoulders. She began to rub my shoulders, slowly, and firmly. Then she started rubbing my shoulders faster and lighter. That's when I said, "Oh no, I know what that means." Rubbing my shoulders faster and lighter meant that she was getting ready to quit and give me what they call the "dismissal pat." My wife gave me a short-term back rub when I was hoping for a long-term back rub.
Recently, I heard that a lot of the money donated to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti had not been distributed. At first, that really bothered me. A newscaster explained the reason. He said that many of the organizations didn't distribute all of the money because they needed to be prepared to help over a long period of time, not just at first. It will be way too easy for many of us to forget about those earthquake victims. It will take many years for them to rebuild. Most likely we will go back to our every-day business and forget about them.
Caring in the short term is easy. Caring over the long term is more difficult. When it comes to ministry, are we short term or long term? Many of us will get involved in special events, or even go out to witness from time to time. What about caring for a person or a family, who is going through a long spell of difficult circumstances? Are we willing to stick it out and help them over a long period of time? We like the short term help better. It is easier, and takes the edge off of our guilt without costing us too much.
Many churches have a heart for outreach. We must remember that people really don't "care" about how much we "know," until they "know how much we care." They don't want us to care about them just long enough to get rid of our guilt feelings. They want to know if we really care over the long term.
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him (1 John 3:16-19 NKJV).