Whenever my wife and I meet new people, there eventually comes a time when they will ask us a variation of the same question,
“What can we do for you?”
“What can we practically do for you?”
(or my favorite…)
“What do you guys need?
I can not accurately count how many times we’ve been ask those questions. While I fully understand the intention, I have struggled to boil it down to quick-and-easy bullet points. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I always said what we need is friendship.
And as true as that still is today, but now I have a more sufficient and efficient answer, and it came after I read 2 Samuel 9.
We need generosity, hospitality, and you to love the entire family.
Generosity (Time, Talent, Treasure)
The first way to be kind to a disabled friend, family member, or acquaintance is to be generous. Generosity is not all that complicated, you know it when you see it or participate in it. Generosity is not a natural thing though, it requires giving/using and sacrifice of your time, talent, and/or treasure.
Quick defining of terms: Time – how we spend our time Talent – what gifts and skills you have Treasure – what resources (financial, possession, etc) you have been given by God
The first thing King David does for Mephibosheth is that he gives generously through restoration of Saul and Jonathan’s land (2 Samuel 9:7). This was a significant financial gift, which he did not have to do. Instead of being commanded to give this land to Mephibosheth, David freely gave it to him with no strings attached.
Disabled people today, just like back then, have a serious difficulties surviving finically. King David gave generously of his treasure (land). So, the first way you can be kind to the disabled is to be generous with your schedule (time), your gifts and skills (talent), and your resources (treasure).
If you’re the kind of person who wants to do something more tangible, “practical”, David also demonstrates something you can do.
The second way to show kindness to the disabled to be hospitable. Showing hospitality can be complex and possibly confusing, but this not complicated either. Hospitality is an act of obedience in response to the salvation we’ve been given, and it involves the pursuit of loving people practically (Romans 12:13b).
David’s kindness to Mephibosheth was demonstrated through hospitality, and, if you really think about it, the hospitality he demonstrated would have been lavish to the world around them. King David welcomed Mephibosheth to eat at his table, unheard of in those days, for the rest of his life (2 Samuel 9: 10-11).
The disabled community feels unwelcome and unloved by a majority of society, so being hospitable will make a huge statement. Inviting someone disabled to your table and into your life demonstrates lavish love that can only flow from the love of God to you.
And, there is one last thing you might be overlooking when considering how to be kind to the disabled community.
Love the Family
The most overlooked and neglected way to be kind to someone disabled is to love their family well. A family member is most often the caretaker or the entire family pitches in to take care/meet the needs of the disabled individual. The family unit often becomes burnt out and lonely. Be kind to the entire family!
One key detail that you find out later in this story is that Mephibosheth has a son, Mica (2 Samuel 9:12-13). Mica is not mentioned until the end of the story, but David does not overlook or neglect Mica. It does not say this directly but custom was that the care and provision would also include family members.
This means that Mica was also provided for and taken care of directly by David and his father’s new servants.
My wife has taken fantastic care of me since I became chronically ill and disabled, and she is often overlooked. My needs are physical, so it’s easy to spot. Her needs are not always as visible and that causes her to get overlooked in the process of trying to serve me.
I’ll say this one time: If you try to be kind to me but you neglect my wife and/or daughter, you’re actually causing me more pain.
I wouldn’t be giving you any good news if I left Jesus, being fully God and fully man, out of this. King David did do well with Mephibosheth, but Jesus is better.
Jesus is better because he is generous. We were dead in our sins, unable to save ourselves from judgment, rebelling against him, and hating God. But God was merciful and gracious by l9iving sinlessly, died on the cross in our place, and rose from the grave to save his children. He gives faith to his children and frees them to live a life pleasing to God (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Jesus is better because he is hospitable. A tax collector, usually reviled by the Jewish leaders, name Matthew is called to follow Jesus. Jesus is then eating at Matthew’s table with other outcasts, and that’s when the Pharisees asked why he would eat with sinners. Lovingly, Jesus responds by saying he came down to Earth for the “sick” and “sinners” (Matthew 9:9-13). Reader, you and I are both sinners: Jesus is talking about us.
Jesus is better because he is he loves the family. Even though we are sinners by nature, Jesus came to secure and love the family of God. The Father chose us, Jesus died to secure us, and the Holy Spirit came to give us life in Christ. God did this to adopt us into his family, lavishing us with grace, all to praise him. He loves the family. If you have believed in Christ alone for salvation, Jesus died to make you family. An eternal and loving family.
Don’t be like David because he isn’t perfect; he isn’t God.
Through Christ’s generosity, hospitality, and love for the family, Christians are now being sanctified (made more like Jesus) to mirror him to your disabled friends and family.
Do you want to know what you can do for me/my family?
Believe in Jesus.
Love him with your heart, soul, and mind. And also love you neighbor.