As Christians, we serve a wonderful and caring God who is seeking to give us all that we need to adequately navigate the lives we seek to live in service to him. He is described in 2 Corinthians 1:3 as the God of comfort, and such he certainly seeks to be; both through his Word and his promises. However, there is another reason mentioned for his giving of comfort. It is so that we might also be able to comfort others as we have been comforted. This, of course, raises the immediate question: “Who needs our comfort?” An understanding of the answer to this question is pivotal to our ability to adequately fulfill our mandate as comforters.
There are many categories which could be considered: the first one which comes to mind for many people is the needy. This is certainly one of the reasons for God’s giving of the commandments concerning the need “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (Jam. 1:27). We are commanded to see to the physical needs of our brethren, but also to those outside the body of Christ. Paul wrote, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:9-10). Therefore, it is obvious that God intended for us to use our ability to comfort others in such a way as to help those who are physically in need.
A second category belongs to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The time of grief is one in which the one grieving desperately needs the comfort of loved ones. It is not an easy time to endure, but one which all who walk the face of this earth will encounter at some point. However, the apostle Paul wrote that we are to comfort one another with his words concerning the dead (1 The. 4:18). He states that those individuals who die in a right relationship with God have nothing to fear, but at the second coming they will meet Christ in the air just as those who are alive (1 The. 4:13-17). However, such comfort can only be given if one is a child of God.
A third category of those who should be assisted with comfort are repentant sinners. It is sometimes amazing to see how people respond to those who repent of past transgressions. Some will say “he didn’t mean it,” or “she’ll be right back at it shortly.” There is nothing given by way of encouragement or comfort, only skepticism and criticism. However, Jesus stated that there should be rejoicing when the penitent return. All three of the parables in Luke 15 deal with the nature of finding something which was lost. When a lost and erring member of the body of Christ returns, that one should not be met with skepticism, but encouragement and comfort in the decision which they have made. Peter stated that God “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Therefore, we must be ones who seek to comfort those who are weak, but seeking to do right so that they might be better equipped to stand against the wiles of the devil.
There are many different types of comfort, and all of them have their place. There is verbal comfort which we can provide through the words we use to comfort others in time of need. There is physical comfort. Whether it is the bringing of food, a hug, or something else, there is comfort to be gained from the caring concern of others. There is also spiritual comfort which God makes available to us through His Word. This comfort is as important as any other because it tells us how God feels concerning each situation man encounters.
May we ever strive to be the types of comforters we need to be. Men and women like Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37; 11:22-24) who are willing to give, not only of their physical means, but of their spiritual lives as well to the betterment of others.