Acts 9:36 NIV
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.
Yesterday, my senior pastor, Pastor Allen, told a story in his message that really challenged me. To be blunt, I was convicted.
He was once helping a friend move. They were moving furniture out of a 2nd story apartment into my his truck. To save time, they decided that rather than walk a couch down the stairs, one friend would hand it over the rail to the other. My pastor was at the bottom. The friend successfully lowered the couch to Pastor Allen. The couch was extremely heavy and he was having trouble carrying the couch over to the truck. Then, out of nowhere, a man pipes up, “Hey, do you need some help?” Of course he did! Pastor Allen was angered that rather than just taking the initiative and coming to help, the man merely asked from a distance. Was it not obvious he needed help? If the man really wanted to help, he would have ran over to Pastor and helped. This isn’t rocket science. One man per one couch is not good math, at least not when it comes to your physical body. Due to this frustration, Pastor Allen responded, “No, its’ fine, I got it.” He could have told the guy he needed help, but he was too angered that the man noticed the obvious need and did not take the initiative to offer aid without asking. The man, probably feeling pretty good about himself, went on his way without lifting a finger.
This got me thinking. It’s one thing to offer help, it’s another thing to actually do so. Sometimes we ask people if they need help because inside, we are hoping they turn the offer down. The asking gives us a potential escape. Most of the time, a person will tell you that he has everything under control. He probably doesn’t. Matter of fact, he may desperately need help and be overwhelmed, stretched too thin, and depressed.
Secretly, we hope people turn us down. I have done this. I know that I need to offer aid but I am hoping with every ounce of my being that the individual denies the offer. If I am honest, I do not want to help. I do not want to be incovenienced. I want to get on with my business, half the time lying to myself about the importance of my own daily agenda. All this time, something psychologically twisted is happening. I know the person needs help, so if I do not at least offer, I will feel guilty. After all, knowing the right thing to do is, most of the time, pretty simple. However, I also do not want to be incovenienced. In other words, I really do not want to help. So what do I do? Employ a strategy. Make sure I do something so that I do not have to feel guilty, but at the same time, do not do too much or I will be incovenienced. Solution? Simple! Ask if they need help. This way, she will probably, as a “good” American, turn me down (we reek with a spirit of individualism and independence), thus not inconveniencing me. Also, because I offered, I do not have to feel guilty all day. The best of both worlds, right? Guilty feelings eradicated and all my time still preserved for myself.
So what does God want me, as one of his sons, to do from now on? Just do it. Walk over and help with the couch. If they want to cuss at you and talk bad about your momma, fine. But chances are, the person being helped with feel extremely blessed because you did not fake a selfish heart with a pretend question. So, today, this week, next week, next month, don’t play the ‘help’ game. Dive into people’s small daily affairs and help. And when they ask why, you might have the chance to tell them that you love helping because that is how Jesus lived his life. And who knows what conversation that might spring. All things are spiritual. How sad that some of us are simply too “spiritual” for this. Jesus wasn’t, but somehow we are. Get up from the table. Lay aside whatever prideful or apathetic garments you may be wearing, and pick up the rag (John 13). Quit trying to get out of helping people by asking. It sounds good. The question may placate your nagging conscience. But you know what was in your heart. God knows. So, quit asking and start helping. Only then are we going see Jesus in the dirt of the day.