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When to Care and When Not to As Christians

Aaron D'Anthony Brown

Contributing Author
Updated Oct 25, 2023
When to Care and When Not to As Christians

There is always a time to care, but there are also times when, even as believers, we should not care. Let’s explore that balance and figure out what caring and not caring should look like in our lives.

When should we care, and when should we not? As a Christian, this question can feel delicate and confusing at times. The Bible tells us over and over again to express care for those around us. We see commandments to love, to share the Gospel, and even to admonish other believers. But what exactly does the Bible say about people who don’t want to be cared for or people who want to continue making the same mistakes no matter how much you want to help?

There’s a certain older lady I know who’s Christian and has a transgender coworker. The coworker leans on her perceived identity and demands that others affirm her. Entitlement has led her to be ignored and ostracized at work. No one wants conflict or to offend. Despite the behaviors, the older lady wanted to show love to this coworker, realizing by just the transgender status alone that the woman was hurting deep within her soul. Despite having a desire to help, the coworker ended up getting the older woman in trouble with HR - an issue of misgendering, I was told.

While the lady told me she didn’t care what the coworker did, the fact that she shared with me unsolicited told me that she was hurt. I would be, too. You show love to someone who obviously lacks in that department, and then they turn around and stab you in the back. They put you and your job in jeopardy. Do you continue to show how much you care, or do you stop altogether?

We all encounter this question in one way or another. That could come in the form of helping someone overcome addiction whilst seeing and doubting their desire to be clean or trying to encourage someone who is bent on being cynical no matter what positive things occur.

When should we care, and when should we not?

Among other passages, the Bible has a couple of verses that can help us find clarity on the topic.

“Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness or you’ll be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his foolishness or he’ll become wise in his own eyes.” (Proverbs 26:4-5)

Based on these two verses and a general understanding of the Bible and how Jesus operated, we can conclude two things. First, we should always care about other people. At least in the general sense, imitating God’s love for them. We should have some concern about their health, their salvation, and general well-being. Secondly, we should not always care about such issues as offending someone, not when our motivations are in the right place.

Finding the balance requires some tact. There is always a time to care, but there are also times when we should not care. Let’s explore that balance and figure out what caring and not caring should look like in our lives.

Understand Why You Care

In order to properly serve the people in your life, you will benefit them and yourself by understanding your motivations. Ask yourself why you care (or don’t). Scripture says that we love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). God made us all in His image and planned our lives before a single one began (Psalm 139:16). When we see God as being the author of other people’s lives, not just our own, we tend to see them in a different light. We don’t want to leave them to our sins because, like God, we care.

If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t care about anyone who doesn’t affect your life, then you’re not seeing them as God does. That’s wrong.

God is not asking us to get emotionally invested in everyone we come across. That’s impossible. But we can show everyone we come across God’s love by acknowledging their humanity and wanting what’s best for them, even if we are not involved in that process.

Do You Care More Than They Do?

One justifiable reason to not care, or to care less, is when you want what’s best for a person more than they want it for themselves. Whatever the circumstances, do you care more about the situation or the relationship than they do? That’s a valuable question when deciding whether or not to take a step back.

There’s a guy I’ve tried supporting on a number of occasions. He’s an elderly man who has not been able to find (or hold) a job in five years. Aside from listening to his anecdotes, I’ve bought him groceries, assisted him with applying for jobs, and especially tried to encourage him to change his perspective. His heart remains hardened, and his cynicism is as strong as ever. He insists that life is against him. Yet, he spends hours during the day not applying to jobs, but reading the newspaper.

How can someone so destitute waste so much time?

Caring more than the other person doesn’t necessarily mean we should not care at all, but we should draw a line somewhere so that we don’t overexert ourselves.

Set Boundaries

Caring requires boundaries. While we are called to love as God loves, we are not called to love them in a way that ruins us. Nor are we called to love everyone deeply. This is where you have to seek God for discernment. He wants us to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). A difficult relationship or circumstance is no excuse to give up and stop caring. However, we need to know what is a healthy and realistic amount of difficulty. We should not default to our own understanding or the supposed wisdom of others either. God and His infinite wisdom. Caring too much can, at worst, jeopardize our faith and health. Care too little, and we are not representing Christ for that person. The bottom line is that you should care about the other person; the question is how much and how will that care be shown.

To Offend or Not Offend

Offending people does not make you un-Christian. Read Scripture enough, and you will see that Jesus offended plenty of people. That’s why they wanted Him dead. Being Christian in modern America is enough reason to offend someone nowadays. That being said, there are plenty of occasions where offending is not only justified but good. If someone is being rude and they are unaware, tell them. That may hurt their feelings, but we benefit from being corrected. The same applies to how we discipline children or how we call out anyone for behavior that is problematic. Offending people is good, so long as your motivations are coming from a good place. Do you offend because you are trying to help the other person grow or for some other reason?

Pray for the Person

We can’t always take a hands-on approach to caring for people. There’s only so much bandwidth any of us possesses and only so many places we can throw our energy in a day. However, when we are hands-off with a person, we can always show our care through prayer. We aren’t always able to help people change, especially when we don’t know them well. On the contrary, God does know them well, and He is acutely aware of where they can grow and how they should go about doing so. Take your cares to Him. 

Conclusion

We should care about people. Jesus did. Scripture tells us to. But we shouldn’t care too much to the point of idolization, nor too little to the point of not adhering to our faith. There’s definitely a balance to strike, but all in all, certain things we care about or not, but we should always care about people.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Sanja Radin 


aaron brown profile pic bioAaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”