Loving Those in Failing Health

Trey Garner July 24, 2016 1 Timothy 5:4-8

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43.5 million adults provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the preceding 12 months.

Three quarters of those providing unpaid care are doing so for an adult.

On average, the age of caregivers is 49. 

Nearly half are caring for a parent or the parent of their spouse.

1 in 10 is providing care for their own spouse.

1 Timothy 5:4 - If any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.

1 Timothy 5:8 - If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

“Believers are commanded ‘to make some return to their parents.’ They owe a debt to those who brought them into the world, clothed them, fed them, housed them, supported them, and loved and nurtured them. This, Paul writes, ‘is acceptable in the sight of God.’ No one can ever question what God requires in this area. For believers to fail to measure up to that standard is inexcusable. They are under greater condemnation [than those that don’t know Christ] because they have the commandment of God to love, and the power of God to enable them to do so.” The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, p. 198, 202.

5 truths to help us love someone in failing health

I. Focus on what’s good (v. 1-2)

  • The encouragement they have in Christ
  • The consoling love they share
  • The spiritual fellowship they enjoy
  • The affection and compassion they share

II. Find joy in His purpose

Philippians 2:2 - …make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 

1 Peter 1:8 - …greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…

III. Humble yourself

A. Reject self-centeredness

Philippians 2:3 - Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…

B. Place superior value on the concerns of others

Philippians 2:3 - …with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 

IV. Develop the mind of Christ

Philippians 2:5 - Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…

A. Refuse to demand your own rights

Philippians 2:6-7 - …although He existed in the form of God, [Christ] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant... 

B. Be obedient to your heavenly Father's will

Philippians 2:8 - Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

John 6:38 - “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Matthew 26:39 - “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

V. Keep your eyes on eternity

Philippians 2:9 - God highly exalted Him…

A. Eternal rewards

James 4:10 - Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Matthew 25:40 - Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.

B. The glory of Christ

Philippians 2:9-11 - [God] bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

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Trey Garner: Well I realize that most you probably know me but I'd like to introduce myself to those of you who don't, I'm Trey Garner. I am our worship service pastor at our 8 o'clock service. I am also the pastor of our children's ministries here at Faith East and I've been serving in that capacity for the past 11 years now and it's an absolute delight for me to be able to open up the scriptures with you this morning. I want to begin ... and you know what I've done, that clicker right down there is going to be a great help to me but it's no help if it stays down there. Thank you Pastor Folden, what a man. Thank you. I want to begin this morning by sharing some statistics with you.

A 2015 study of the AARP Public Policy Institute found that at estimated 43.5 million adults provided unpaid childcare to an adult or a child in the preceding 12 months of that study. That is roughly one seventh of the US population that is serving as unpaid caregivers. About three quarters of those providing unpaid care are doing so for an adult over the age of 50. That's typically a family member they're caring for. On average ... and this really surprised, on average the age of caregivers is 49 years of age. Now that is just nine years older than the average age of our church members. Nearly half are caring for a parent or the parent of a spouse but one in ten is providing care for their own spouse.

Now I know many in our church family have played or are currently playing the role of caregiver for a loved one in either a full-time or a part-time capacity. Several members of my family have taken on this role over the years but even if you haven't been in a situation like that I think these statistics would indicate that there's a high probability that at some point in the future, and it may not be long, that you will face the prospect of becoming a caregiver of someone close to you. This morning we're talking about loving those in failing health and as we discuss this important subject I'd like to ask you to turn in your bibles to Philippians Chapter 2. If you're using the bible under the chair in front of you, you'll find Philippians Chapter 2 in the back section of that bible on page 154.

Once you find Philippians Chapter 2 I'm going to ask you to hold your place there. We'll be discussing that passage in a few minutes. This study is part of a series of messages that we've been discussing this summer called loving the world under your roof. Scripture calls us to make an impact on the lives of people both in our community and around the world. We recognize that it can be challenging and perhaps even hypocritical to love others unless we're first seeking to live out a meaningful love for the people in our own homes. I know lot of you recognize the responsibility that you have to care for family members that can't care for themselves. You may have even taken steps to prepare for that day but I know that for some of you this whole discussion may strike fear in your hearts.

For some of you the idea of becoming a caregiver for a family member like your mother or your father or dare I say it your mother-in-law or your father-in-law. The idea of that is [inaudible 00:03:33] to you. You want to avoid that like you want to avoid flesh-eating bacteria, like you want to avoid Voldemort, and yes I will say his name. If that's where you're living I think the Lord may want to do some work on your heart because as you look at The New Testament you find several passages that address the issue of caring for those that can't care for themselves. Passage like 1st Timothy Chapter 5 verse 4 which says, "If widow has children or grandchildren they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents. For this is acceptable in the sight of God."

In this letter to Timothy the Apostle Paul says pretty plainly I believe that children and even grandchildren have a responsibility to care for their parents and their grandparents when they can no longer care for themselves. Paul even underlines this point a few versus later when he says in verse 8, "If anyone does not provide for how own especially those of his household he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Now Paul isn't saying that a follower of Christ who fails to provide appropriate care for a family member will lose his salvation. Rather he's saying that such an individual is rejecting the call to compassionate love that is at the very heart of the Christian Faith and is acting worse than an unbeliever since even the pagans recognize their duty to care for their loved ones.

In his commentary on the book of 1st Timothy, John MacArthur says, "Believers are commanded to make some return to their parents. They owe a debt to those who brought them into the world, clothed them, fed them, housed them, supported them and loved and nurtured them." This Paul writes is acceptable in the sight of God. No one can ever question what God requires in this area. For believers to fail to measure up to that standard is inexcusable. They are under greater condemnation than those that don't know Christ because they have the commandment of God to love and the power of God to enable them to do so. All the parents in the room said their children Amen, right?

The bottom line is this, for any that didn't understand or for any that didn't want to believe that they had this responsibility I think these versus make clear that every believer has the duty to care for the members of his or her own family that cannot care for themselves. Let's just hold here for a moment. Let's say that I've just described to you that you have a parent, a grandparent, a spouse or another close family members who's unable to care for him or herself and whose needs are not being addressed. You've been resistant to your responsibility in this area, what should you do? Well I want to encourage you to repent. I believe that you need to confess to the Lord that you now understand that your attitudes and your actions have not pleased Him and you need to seek His forgiveness.

Then I'd encourage you to go to your family member and potentially any other family members that have been forced to pick up the slack left by you and to confess the same to them, to seek their forgiveness. Then you need to make a plan and begin taking steps to assume your responsibilities in this area. What if you're just coming to terms with this responsibility but the opportunity has passed you by? Your loved one is no longer with us. Well I want you to know that grace for you as well. You too can confess your sin to the Lord and seek His forgiveness. The blood of Christ is sufficient to cover ever sin. Now I understand that most of us we already understand this and we're prepared to assume the responsibility to care for our loved ones when they aren't able to care for themselves.

For many what we've said this far it falls into the category of tell me something I didn't know. Instead of exploring more reasons why we should care for our loved ones I want to focus the balance of our time on some of the practical how to's. What kind of mindset do we need to have and how should that mindset impact our actions? To get the kind of direction that we need we're going to turn to the scriptures. To put flesh and blood on the biblical principles that we're going to be studying I think it would be helpful to hear from someone who's walking this road right now. Who is seeking to live out the scriptures and caring for his loved one. This time I want to invite Dr. Bob Smith to join me.

Dr. Smith and his wife Leona have played a significant role in our church for the past four decades. That's a significant track record of faithfulness. Back in 1977 the Smiths moved to Lafayette at the request of our former senior pastor Bill Goode to help him establish Faith Biblical Counselling Ministries. Doc served as one of the ministries original counselors and trainers. Leona initially served as the ministry's temporary secretary, a temporary position which she held for 22 years. Doc and Leona been an integral part of the counselling and training that we offer. In addition to that Doc has served as a teacher in our Adult Bible Fellowship and Faith Community Institute Ministries, as a deacon of our church and for many years as the chairman of our deacons.

He authored multiple books on medicine, counselling and church ministry. He's also been a frequent speaker at regional, national and international conferences. After retiring from medicine in 1996 doc was able to devote himself more fully to the practice of counselling and to the training of other counselors. In fact, several years ago doc mentioned to me that that's what he believed God wanted him to do and that's how he intended to spend his remaining years but in 2011 something changed. Doc began to pull out of a number of speaking opportunities. He ended his involvement in our Monday counseling ministry. He stopped supervising individuals in the counselling certification process and he gradually passed off his teaching responsibilities in our various training ministries.

The reason doc did that was because he began to notice certain changes in his wife. I'd like to have doc talk about that right now. Doc I really appreciate your willingness to share your story with us. We've already done this three times now so this is our fourth time doing this. Now I'd like to ask you if you wouldn't mind filling this group in on some of the details of Leona's condition so that they have a better understanding of your situation.

Dr. Bob Smith: In retrospect there were a number of evidences that Leona was having problems but I was too busy focusing on her responsibilities for her part of our marriage. As a result, I missed those warnings until she experienced a number of events that revealed she was really having a physical problem. She was not remembering activities that she really enjoyed doing for us. She was repeating little things she had already done and forgetting other things that needed to be done. She was having real memory difficulties. She had some significant heart problems which were the source of what was happening to her brain and produced her memory problems. Our daughter Esther recommended a book called The 36 Hour Day which details the changes that occur in people experiencing dementia.

It was a very helpful book. Alzheimer's is one form of dementia and at first I didn't know if that's what Leona had but as I evaluated her changes I became concerned she might forget who she is and where she is. I realized she needed constant supervision and I determined to make certain someone was with her at all times. As time has progressed it's become obvious to me that her condition has not progressed as Alzheimer's but it's actually a non-Alzheimer's dementia.

Trey Garner: Doc when you say that Leona needed someone to be with her around the clock at that time you were carrying a significant ministry load and choosing to step out of many of those responsibilities and to reorient your ministry that had to be a difficult choice for you. Can you tell us how you made that decision?

Dr. Bob Smith: It was really not that difficult. Over 60 years ago I promised Leona I would be with her in sickness and in health, in good days and bad days and for better or for worse. Either I meant that at a time of great emotional excitement or I lied. Ephesians 5:25 teaches, "I am to love her as Christ loves the church" and the vivid description of Christ love in Philippians 2:6-9 was very challenging to me. If I'm going to love her as Christ loves the church, I must keep my wedding vows to her and I had to change my lifestyle to provide that care for her. I provide that personally or if I need to be gone I request help from others. Although it's a biblical duty I really consider it a privilege more than a duty.

Also this puts ministry to her above all other ministries. Her problem was a 24 hour a day problem so to have the time I needed to minister to her it was necessary for me to discontinue anything that took my time away from her. This I discussed with each ministry leader and they agreed with the appropriate changes I needed to make.

Trey Garner: Doc I know that you would say that loving someone whose health is failing that's not always an easy thing to do. You've told me that Leona is actually very sweet but there are others for a lot of people caring for family members that can be a very challenging thing to do. It's hard enough to behave in ways that please the Lord when everything is going your way, when you're seeking to care for someone who's not feeling well, who may be making poor decisions, who may be taking their frustrations over their physical conditions out on you. When you're caring for someone like that pleasing the Lord can require incredible discipline. To get the kind of direction that we need I want to ask us to look at the passage that we're directing our attention to this morning, Philippians 2 and we're going to begin in verse 1.

Here's what the Apostle Paul said to the believers at Philippi. He said, "Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, and there is, if there is any consolation of love, and there is, if there is any fellowship of the spirit. If any affection and compassion and there is then make my joy complete by being of the same mind. Maintaining the same love, united in spirit intent on one purpose. What is that purpose? Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus who although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself.

Taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men being found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. For this reason also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth and very tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Don't you love that passage? One of my absolute favorite passages in all of scripture, not necessarily because it's an easy passage to live out, it's not, but because of the incredible truths that it communicates.

Based on this passage I believe that we can find five truths to help us love someone in failing health. First principle is this. We need to focus on what's good.

I. Focus on what’s good (v. 1-2)

Now we've already said that's not necessarily an easy thing to do and it wasn't easy for the Philippian believers to whom Paul was writing. The Philippians they were desperately poor; like Paul they were being persecuted for their faith in Christ. They were also being attacked by false teachers and on top of everything else a feud between two prominent women in the congregation threatened to shatter the unity of the church. Even though they were facing all of these different obstacles Paul redirects their thinking.

He tells them that they need to focus on the encouragement they have in Christ, the consoling love that they share both from Christ as well as from one another. The spiritual fellowship that they enjoy, the affection and compassion they share again both from Christ and one another. In the midst of their difficulties Paul reminds them of the incredible ways in which they've been blessed. Doc I'd like to ask you can you just talk to us ... Pick that up before we move on. I just wanted to just ask you to talk to us about some of the ways that you have been blessed as you have tried to focus ... Pardon me. What are some of the ways that you have tried to focus on the blessings that you have received as you've cared for Leona?

Dr. Bob Smith: At the top of the list is the blessing of knowing that we have an eternal home in heaven. I know that both of us will spend our forever years with our savior. We will carry a godly relationship with us to heaven and that's a blessing we anticipate. Nearly all of this I see my sinfulness more clearly and I'm so blessed with his mercy and grace. My sinfulness, my wickedness deserves his wrath but his mercy because of Christ's death and the resurrection for my sins replaces his wrath. Another blessing is the knowledge of his complete control of our lives. When I get to fussing about some of these things I read Genesis 1:1 which is at the top of my prayer list. It reads, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Since he could and did do all that He's in complete control of all that happens to me." The bible repeatedly teaches that God is good and all He does is good so even though something may not seem good to me such as the changes in my wife He knows that it's good for me. It'll help me to become more like the one who sacrificed so much for me. It's a real blessing to look beyond the immediate difficulties to His purpose for those difficulties. It doesn't make me feel better in them but it gives real purpose for them. Even though God has allowed Leona to lose parts of her brain essential to recent memory He's preserved her kindness and gratitude. She frequently expresses her love for me as well as her gratitude for my part in her life.

She's very pleasant to live with and is not demanding. In fact, there are times when I have to work to learn of her needs. He has preserved her physical body to be able to do things for herself. She can dress herself, she can feed herself, she can walk with assistance, until recently could walk around our house with her cane. I am thankful for what he has preserved in her.

Trey Garner: I want to point something out. As doc was talking I hope you noticed that focusing on what's good that is a deliberate choice. That requires effort but it's effort that will dramatically impact the way that you view a situation. Not only does God want us to focus on what's good but He also wants us to find joy in his purpose.

II. Find joy in His purpose

In verse 2 Paul says, "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit intent on one purpose." As we read on we learn that the purpose to which Paul and God had called these Philippians as well as all Christians is that we would faithfully follow Christ emulating his character. You say, "Pastor I can get my arms around that purpose but you don't know my loved one.

You don't know how hard they are to deal with." Or even more challenging, my loved one isn't a follower of Christ. She isn't interested in handling her condition in a way that pleases the Lord or he doesn't care about treating others as God wants him to. Now you're right, it can be really challenging to help someone who doesn't always respond well to circumstances or to you. We need to remember that our ability to please God and moreover, our ability to find joy in pleasing God that does not depend on the way that we're treated by others. The Apostle Peter talked about this in 1st Peter Chapter 1. He was writing to people who were experiencing all kinds of trials and difficulties.

He tells them that as they choose to honor God in the midst of their trials they get to see what he calls the proof of their faith. Evidence that their faith is genuine. Peter says that proof is more precious than gold because it demonstrates that your relationship with Jesus is the real deal. It's that relationship with Christ that causes you to rejoice, to greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. Now doesn't that sound good. Greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. Now the kind of joy that Peter describes that is not dependent on your circumstances. It's not dependent on your loved one's health or the way that they respond to you because it's rooted in something that can never be taken away from you.

Mainly your relationship with Christ. When your joy is rooted in something that can't be taken from you I tell you what that frees you up in all kinds of ways, frees you up to serve your loved one in ways that you wouldn't be able to otherwise. Then regardless of how they respond you can have joy not because you pleased them, that was never your purpose to begin with, your purpose was to honor Christ. When you serve them you fulfill that purpose and that's where you find your joy. Let me give you something else to think about. If your family member isn't a follower of Christ, your willingness to serve them could be the very thing that God uses to draw them to Himself.

Doc I'm going to let you speak to this. How have you experienced joy in fulfilling God's purpose for your situation?

Dr. Bob Smith: My goal with Leona is to make her life as pleasant and comfortable as possible as long as she lives. I want to make certain she knows I love her in ways she can recognize. I wish I'd worked on this prior to her physical changes. One of the goals of a loving husband is to learn about his wife. In the counselling ministry we have 50 questions a husband can use for this. I used those questions but now I wish I's used them more effectively like taking notes of her responses and keeping them handy. Now when I want to do things for her that are pleasant I have trouble remembering but I try to get her thing I do remember she likes. For example, when she wants a dish of ice-cream I know what is her favorite ice-cream. She has very few requests but I try to plan ahead as best I can to provide them.

Trey Garner: Man I hope you picked up on something that doc said. He said, "I want to make certain that she knows I love her in ways that she can recognize." Now that is an important goal if you're ever in a situation like doc's but I would suggest to you that that is an equally important goal at any stage in your marriage and all the wives said Amen, right? I would encourage you husbands in the room to adopt that goal, particularly as it relates your wife's favorite flavor of ice-cream. My wife's favorite flavor of ice-cream is Heath Bar but I learned this past week that that's only when it comes from Dairy Queen. When it comes from a store her favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip. She brought that up last night so that helped me.

All right, let's move on to the next point here. Paul encourages us to focus on what's good, to find joy in God's purpose but also he encourages us to humble ourselves and that happens as you reject self-centeredness.

III. Humble yourself

Philippians Chapter 2 verse 3 says, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit." Now let's talk about what that means. Rejecting selfishness that means that we refuse to pursue our personal interests at the expense of others and rejecting empty conceit means that we refuse to pursue glory at the expense of God's glory. Now I don't know about you but when I hear that I get frustrated with the Apostle Paul because that's one of those easy to say but hard to do kind of instructions.

Paul helps us out by providing some additional instruction to help us understand how to do this. If we're going to humble ourselves, we have to learn to place superior value on the concerns of others. That's a really important phrase. We have to place superior value on the concerns of others. Philippians 2:3 says, "With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others." Please note this, Paul teaches that humility begins in the mind. Begins in the mind. It's a matter of choosing what you're going to value and how you're going to think about the concerns of your family member.

Doc I want to ask you; how do you live this out? What kinds of things do you do to make Leona's concerns more important than your own concerns?

Dr. Bob Smith: God gives me many opportunities to practice on this and to work on this. At the end of the day when I am tired and I'm hurting, Leona may fail to do what she needs to do. At that time, it's easy for me to react as though she's being selfish herself. I need to remember her failure to do certain things is not deliberate but it's because of the result of her memory failure. I ask for God's grace to meet her needs and not focus on me. Again, God is merciful, God is gracious to me and helps me do what I need to do. It's very difficult because over the years I've become very skilled in throwing pity parties for myself and hoping Leona will attend. If I do that I start seeing my needs as more important than hers, so, to avoid throwing pity parties, I work hard at being thankful.

I regularly thank the Lord for the opportunity He has given me to serve Leona. The more I serve her the more I'm serving Him. In the previous years of our marriage I did not serve her as God wanted me to so now He's given me the opportunity to work on making up for lost time. I had been too focused on holding her responsible for her part of our marriage rather than showing her Christ-like love. I thank Him for the privilege of correcting that failure. I thank Him for her companionship which we really are enjoying. I thank Him for her desire to be with me and enjoyment of being with me. I thank Him for her love and for her gratefulness expressed toward me. I enjoy hearing her pray, many times she does remember to ask that we honor him in what we do.

I thank Him for giving me health so that I can take care of her. I thank Him for his care of us and provisions for us. I thank Him for the many kind things others do for us. My list of thanksgiving is long because God has done so much for us. To make certain I do not neglect thanksgiving part of my weekly memory verse review includes a list of versus that encourage thanksgiving. The more time I spend in thanksgiving the less time I have to organize my pity parties. God has used her needs to produce significant changes in my life. In reflecting on them I have realized He wanted me out of these ministries. Although His reasons have been a quandary of mine and have not been clearly made known to me the most important is to have time to minister to my wife.

While it's true I've had to step away from other outside ministries to care for Leona I view this as a ministry upgrade. In the bible I do not see God downgrading a person's ministry unless as a result of personal failure or sin. Any changes He makes are always upgrades. It may seem like Paul's imprisonment was a downgrade but it was all part of God upgrading his ministry. The result was that Paul was able to communicate the gospel to the emperor's elite personal guard. That was a ministry he likely could not have had had he gone as he desired to go as a preacher and not as a prisoner. Paul states in Philippians 1:13 that, "It has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and all the rest that my imprisonment is in Christ."

One thing I can learn from Paul's gratitude is that God used what was very unpleasant to him to spread the gospel. That gives me hope that God will use Leona and my ministry to her to do the same.

Trey Garner: Amen. That's a really helpful perspective there because when we humble ourselves, when we view ourselves as servants that God can use in whatever way He chooses that opens our eyes to all kinds of potential opportunities that we wouldn't see otherwise. Paul challenges us to focus on what's good, to find joy in his purpose, to humble ourselves but also to develop the mind of Christ.

IV. Develop the mind of Christ

Philippians 2:5 says, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." In the midst of providing care for another person we tend to focus our attention on the way the recipient of our care responds but we dare not forget that God wants to use the situation to do a work in our own lives as well.

I think this may be one of the biggest missteps of caregivers. I've certainly seen it in myself as a parent, I've seen it in some of our children's ministry servants. Doc I would ask, what are some of the important things that you think a person needs to do to develop the mind of Christ when they're caring for a family member?

Dr. Bob Smith: Philippians 2:5 is a very important verse to me. God wants me to think like Jesus thought. He wants me to use Christ-like logic to approach life in place of my sin-cursed human logic. The way I do this it through regular intake of the bible by reading and memorization. Everyday my mind is bombarded with anti-God philosophies in almost everything I encounter in life. To counteract that I must spend some time every day putting into that same mind pro-God philosophy. I do this through bible reading and memorization. Even if I frequently do not remember specifics of what I've read that morning the day was started by simply exposing my mind to the pure word of God.

Then the memorization helps me to have it available throughout the day and night that follows. That makes my communication with Him in prayer more significant. I've listened to Him before I talk Him and ask Him to listen to me. Jesus frequently stated the way to show love for Him is to keep his word. If it's not readily available to my thinking it will be difficult for me to keep it and to show my love for Him so my daily input of His word into my life is really necessary.

Trey Garner: I want to pull the curtain back on the preparation that doc and I did for this message. During our preparation doc mentioned to me that people over the years have come to him and talked to him about how much they appreciate his wisdom. I'm one of those people. I count myself among them. Doc said that that's a bit confounding to him because he says any of the wisdom that he has received that that wisdom comes directly from the word of God. It's not something that he's cooked up on his own. The hours that he has spent studying the scriptures and the hours that he has spent memorizing the scriptures that's what has enabled him to receive any good wisdom that he may possess.

I would say this, if any of us would look at doc and say he's wise and yet he still regards it as vital to his care for his wife that he be taking in the scriptures on a regular basis. Then how much more vital would it be for us who may not be quite as far along as doc is to be taking the scriptures in for ourselves? It's absolutely vital if we're going to develop the mind of Christ. Paul teaches that if we're going to develop this kind of mindset we have to refuse to demand our own rights. Philippians 2:6-7 says that, "Although He existed in the form of God Christ did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but He emptied himself taking the form of a bondservant."

When Jesus came to earth to dwell among us He refused to hold on to His own divine rights and prerogatives. Now He never ceased to be God but for a time He voluntarily gave up the honor, the glory, the privilege that rightly belonged to Him so that He might do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Doc I want to ask for your input in this question as well. What are some ways that we can follow Christ's example? Refusing to demand our own rights in the way that we care for our loved ones?

Dr. Bob Smith: If I'm going to grow in Christ-like love for my wife I need to love her like He loves me. It's so amazing to me that no matter how much I fail He continues to pour out His love on me. I see His love as completely dependent on Him and none on me, I consider His love to be unilateral. He gives 100% even though He receives 0%. His love is not based on what I do but who He is so my love for my wife must be the same. I must give 100% no matter how much I receive from her. From my sin-cursed frame of reference this is not fair or even easy but my reference must change so that thinking as He does as we're ... So I'm thinking as He does as we're instructed in Philippians 2:5.

It helps me to remember that ministering to her is literally ministering to Christ so giving 100% in the face of receiving zero may not please me but it certainly pleases God. Besides this what I receive from my Leona is far from 0%. There are many expressions of love from her for which I am very grateful.

Trey Garner: This passage also teaches that if we're going to develop the mind of Christ we have to be obedient to our heavenly father's will. Philippians 2:8 says that, "Being found in appearance as a man Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on a cross." John Chapter 6 Jesus said, "For I've come down from heaven not to do my own will but to do the will of Him who sent me." The primary reason why Christ was willing to come to earth, why He was willing to go to the cross, why He was willing to die for the sins of people like us was because that was the will of His father. That's why on the night before his crucifixion Jesus cried out, "My father if it is possible let this cup pass from me yet not as I will but as you will."

If given the option, we probably wouldn't choose to become caregivers for those in our families that can't care for themselves just as they wouldn't choose to need the care. God in His sovereign plan uses these situations to accomplish His will in our lives, to help us become more like his son. Doc can you give us some insight on what we need to do to submit ourselves to the will of the father in situations like this.

Dr. Bob Smith: It's God's will for me to think like Christ and to make my goal that of pleasing God more than myself even when it's difficult. Leona has been a very easy person to love and serve and I thank God for her lack of hostility towards me. I know that some individuals take care of loved ones that are hostile toward them and when we haven't been treated well our tendency is to think, "I deserve better than that." That kind of thinking rejects God's sovereignty over the situation. That's when we need to submit ourselves to His plan. I have advised such persons to use that hostility as a means to grow and blessing the loved one. When the loved one is hostile respond in love as Christ does to us. More hostility to you means more love from you. More hostility to you means more blessings from you.

The curse of sin which produces our self-centeredness makes this very difficult. The natural tendency is to defend rather than to respond according to 1st Peter 2:23 which says, "And while being reviled He did not revile in return, while suffering He uttered not threats but kept trusting himself to Him who judges righteously." The more you respond to hostile with blessing the more Christ-like you've become. Your job is not to stop the hostility but to respond like Christ. You know you can do this even though you cannot stop the hostility. This is real Philippians 2:6-9 love.

Trey Garner: Paul challenges us to focus on what's good, to find joy in his purpose, to humble ourselves, to develop the mind of Christ and finally to keep your eyes on eternity.

V. Keep your eyes on eternity

Paul tells us that because Christ humbled Himself, because He was obedient to the father that God highly exalted Him. You said, "We that's great Pastor Trey but what does that have to do with me and my care for my loved one?" Well just as Jesus was rewarded for his humble service God promises eternal rewards to us for the service that we would offer in His name. James Chapter 4 verse 10 says, "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you." In Matthew Chapter 25 Jesus talks about the coming judgement and He refers to a king who is rewarding his subjects for the service that they offered him.

He lists all of these different things that these people did for him and the subjects are like, "Hey king that's great and all but we don't remember doing any of that stuff for you." The king responds by saying, "Truly I say to you to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine even the least of them you did it to me." When we stand before our kind I believe scripture teaches that God will honor those who humbly serve their loved ones. Now these versus speak about eternal rewards but that doesn't mean that God won't also reward you in the here and now for your service to your family member. Doc can you tell us what are some do the ways in which you've seen God reward you in the time that you've been caring for Leona?

Dr. Bob Smith: The first reward I've received is the knowledge that I have please my creator and savior. We all like to please those who are important to us, we enjoy knowing that we will hear you are the light to me thank you for what you have done. When I know that I have pleased God that's a great help to me and since I'm such a feeling-oriented person I do not always feel like doing what I should. That's okay because what I feel is less important than what He says. I thank Him for the opportunity to please Him through my ministry to my wife. I want to love her like He would if He were her husband. Another great reward is the expression of love from our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends.

These all go to great lengths to help us and God is delighted with them. God is also delighted in our dependence on Him. He uses losses to help us grow in that dependence. My dependence on God means I need to depend one people and it's amazing to see how many have graciously provided that help. Experiencing their love for us is very rewarding. I want to give a good account at the Judgement Seat of Christ, but I don't think about the price or reward as much as pleasing Him because of what He has done for me. The best way I can thank Him for salvation and the blessings He gives is by doing what pleases Him. Even if I get no reward in this life I will have still acted thankfully for the overflowing blessings He has given me.

My obedience is very small to the point of minimal compared to His Blessings. His sacrifice, appeasing the wrath of God toward me because of my sin is a huge blessing. I deserve hell but God paid the price for my sin so that I will not go there so I have great reason for obeying him in thanksgiving for what He has done for me and is going.

Trey Garner: Now doc said a couple of things throughout the course of this message that may sound a bit confounding. On the one hand he's talked about the care that he has provided for his wife and I think we would all say if we're ever in a situation like that we want to have the kind of mindset that doc has had. He's also talked about how he deserves the wrath of God, how he deserves to go to hell and you say, "How do you put those two concepts together?" Well it's because doc recognizes that his care for Leona and the mindset that he's been able to bring to that would be impossible without a relationship with God. Same would be true for us.

If you're listening to all of this and you think, "Boy this will be really hard to do" you're right it will be really hard to do but you cannot do it unless you have the power of God working in and through you. If you're here today and you're not sure you have a relationship with God, if you're here today and you're not like 100% convinced that you're on your way to heaven did you know you can be convinced of that today? You can make sure that you're on your way to heaven today. I will tell you that doc and I along with any of our other pastors would be delighted more than anything else if God used a message on loving someone in your family who's in failing health to draw you into a relationship with God.

To draw you into faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as your only hope of heaven. If you're here today and you haven't done that but you'd like to or you have questions about that we would love to talk with you. Come and see me or Pastor Folden after the service here, we'd love to talk with you about that. Of if you say, "I'd rather do that during the week" give us a call, send us an email. We'll clear our schedules to be able to talk to you about that. Of course the ultimate end for which we should be striving is the glory of Christ. Philippians 2:9-11 says that, "God bestowed on Jesus the name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are heaven and on earth and under the earth.

That every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." As we strive to follow the example of Christ in caring for our loved ones Jesus receives the glory for that. That should be the goal of every Christian, to magnify the name of Jesus. Doc I want to thank you for your transparency, your willingness to share all of this with us over the course of these past five services that we've done together now. I think it'd be appropriate for us to go before the Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father thank you so much for the privilege of studying your scriptures together. Thank you for giving us clear principles to understand one, that we have a responsibility to care for our loved ones but also how we should carry out that responsibility.

Thank you for the example of Doc Smith and the way he's cared for his wife. I pray that you'd continue to strengthen and encourage him as he cares for her and Lord for those in our church family that are currently walking this road along with doc I pray for your strength for them. I pray that you would help them as well as those of us who may be preparing for that day to cling to you and to trust in you as we seek to emulate the character in Christ. We pray this in the marvelous name of Jesus, Amen.

Trey Garner

B.F.A. - Musical Theatre, Texas State University
M.F.A. - Acting, Purdue University
M.Min. - Grace Theological Seminary

Pastor Trey Garner joined our staff in 2001. He and his wife Deb were married that year, and they have two children. Trey oversees our Children’s Ministries, which serves infants, toddlers, and K-5th grade students. He also provides pastoral care for our 8:00 a.m. worship service.

Read Trey Garner's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Garner to Faith Church.