A final way we praise the church without being boastful is to celebrate our compassion for one another. Perhaps you have heard believers say, “I don’t know what people do when they don’t have a church family to help them in a time of need.” The truth is people do survive without the Lord’s church as long as they have family members and friends who care about them. Sometimes those who reach out to them know Christ, and are able to pour His grace into their circumstances.
Yet, there is a difference. When we are in Christ, and walk with His people, grace flows both ways. As we show the Lord’s grace, those who are suffering reflect it as the Holy Spirit works in them and around them.
Not long ago I met with an elderly widow who had recently lost her husband of many years. She was grieving, but had also found peace in the mercy of God as He continued to work through His Word, His people and His Holy Spirit. When I finished my meeting I wept, but not for the reasons you might think. Of course, I shared in the widow’s sorrow and it hurt me to hear her talk about how lonely she was after years of marriage. But at the same time I rejoiced in her testimony when she told me how God had comforted her and supplied all of her needs.
When we are facing a trial, and hold to the Lord, He shows us aspects of His character we would never learn under normal circumstances. In the church we are able to share our spiritual walk with one another, and as a result we gain a wider perspective of God’s grace. We should never boast in our concern for each other, because even those who don’t know Christ help one another in times of need. But we should celebrate what we learn about God in the process of caring. The Holy Spirit inhabits the Bride of Christ, and as a result even the smallest test becomes an important part of the journey.