In which Jesus sometimes walked away…

by Craig on May 6, 2011

Yesterday was a two sentence parable to point to a larger truth. It was the second two sentence parable James has included in his letter we call the “book” of James.

“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (James 2:15,16)

The words, “keep warm, and eat well”

θερμαίνεσθε καὶ χορτάζεσθε

(pronounced, thermainestheh kai kortadzestheh – don’t forget to sound Greek when pronouncing the words)

In the Greek the words are in the imperative, they carry a nuance of meaning in this context making them kind of a “wish” prayer. They aren’t a heartfelt expression but more like a dismissive and automatic, “Well….OK…see ya later.” It’s a little snooty. It’s a “have a nice day.” without any caring to what kind of day the person may have.

My original response to this was that I should never walk away from a person in need – without helping. But James is practical. He knew that only Jesus, his brother could meet every need.

As always, I learn so much from reading my comments. It’s an unexpected joy of blogging. If you write book or preach a sermon, you do all the talking. You gain nothing more than what you, yourself have learned.

But blogging – I get to share what I’ve learned – then learn more when you all share back.

It’s a game of catch.

James, from every report of his character and every detail of this letter, is revealed as a practical guy.

Dawn, you commented, “Sometimes people go from one soft heart to another with their hands out. Sure they need money, they squandered the last money that was given to them. Giving them more money will not meet their need. What do they REALLY need, what will really help them move along in a positive way?”

Amen!

In the time of James the streets of Jerusalem were a friendly place for beggars, and sick people who couldn’t work. The culture was close knit and lead to an understanding of their situation and people readily gave “alms to the poor”.

But the Roman Empire, where this letter was addressed – those streets – they were the last place you wanted to be if you had “nothing to wear and no food for the day”. You were more likely to be killed because you were blocking an alleyway than be given a helping hand.

James lived in one culture – he wrote for another – and then there is ours.

And Dawn, you are so right – and James, I think would agree.

I know that Jesus healed so many. I know he helped many. I thought he just kind of helped every. single. broken. person he saw. I think now, though, that he didn’t heal everyone.

And some he taught how to fish.

He was raised by the same Joseph and Mary that James was – he would have shared the practicality of a Carpenter and a peasant girl. The oldest in a family is generally the more responsible and practical. So if James was practical – I think Jesus would have been even more so.

I think Our Lord passed by some – on purpose.

I think that the demands of the perfect Law of Freedom that James writes of, the Law of Love laid down by his brother, mean more than just doling out help to everyone we meet.

It means caring enough,

to know a person well enough,

to know what help they really need,

to deal with the situation they are dealt,

or get out of a that situation.

I think this needs a little more thought.

I’ll be hanging on this a day or two more…

God Bless

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa May 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

Love this, Craig! I have been passed by a few times, and was highly offended…offended enough to go to the cross and find my need was much different and much greater than what I had believed. And so, a crisis of faith that launches me into the deep — sink or swim, the ultimate goal is in becoming more like Him, no, more of Him. To be. As He is in this world. Compared to the glory that is being formed in us, the temporary suffering and need grows strangely dim.

If you want to dig deeper, check out the two times Jesus sent out his disciples, one where He said, “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.” and another when He said, ““But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. ”

I think this has something to do with what you are saying. The first time, Jesus wanted nothing (material needs) to get in the way of the disciples and those they ministered to of seeing and knowing and releasing the power of God.

Love and blessings to you in the beautiful name of Jesus!

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Craig May 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm

All good thoughts Melissa – all good thoughts. And hmmmm. There is a difference. I think I’m thinking more of how Pilate asked “what is the truth”and Jesus didn’t answer. There must be some hidden context there. I always heart when I see you in my comment area. I hope all is well. You know I heart your words. God bless. !!

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Dawn May 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Dear Craig,

Over here in Deep Into Scripture you use Greek and talk about the parts of speech the words are and sometimes tell us how to say the words. You discuss culture (my own personal favorite) and context. What a goldmine here for Bible scholars! That you would heart my comment of yesterday blesses me. It’s an honor to have my words amongst yours.

A little over a decade ago, I was changed by a book entitled Bold Love by Dan Allender. My whole idea of charity/love was revolutionized as I went back and read my Bible in light of the personal paradigm shift I had after reading that book. It has been awhile since I read it. I think I will pick it up again.

I pray today has been a bit brighter for you, that the “sleep thing” has eased off a bit. I can’t even imagine how much deeper this would be if you were well. ….perhaps that is why?…
God blesses you,
Dawn

PS I am the first child. Does that surprise you, ha!
PSS Tell Laska the dogs have uncovered their noses.

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Craig May 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Dawn – it’s not for Bible scholars over here – just regular people – I learn – I share – I learn from you guys – we all know stuff – your wisdom awesome – you don’t need to know Greek to be a wise Christian. You are a wise Christian!! Today is brighter – thank you – yesterday was dark – I think I’ve been prayed for. I’m not the first child btw – that surprise you??!! :) And the dog’s faces are safe – for now – God Bless!!

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Cora May 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm

The great thing about blogging is that it’s like going to a good Bible Study where we are allowed to raise our hands and make comments and the teacher answers back. Even better than a Bible study, we get to hit the pause button and freeze everything for a while and chew on what’s been said and THEN raise our hands and comment. Too often, the “real deal” thing is over and everyone is on their way home before I have formulated my comments. Here, I get to chew all day and come back. I’m with Dawn here. I love the Greek words, the verb tenses, the deeper meanings, etc. I also love the cultural input. And I love the fact that I can go to all these commenter’s blogs and get to know them personally and read of where they are coming from, etc. So it’s all “a good thing.”

And when I read Melissa’s comment, that opened up a whole new avenue of thinking for me, too.
I thought, didn’t Jesus meet (or at least address) BOTH needs in most, if not all, of His encounters with individuals? (I didn’t go back to check this for sure, so I may be wrong here). Example: He drew water at the well but also addressed her sin. It seems to me that there was always more than just a handout or a healing. Am I just seeing it that way because of the vantage point of knowing more than they did then, knowing He was God’s Son, Diety in the flesh, that He died and rose again, etc., and that this is God’s Word. And if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times — missionaries will tell you that you cannot reach a heart for Christ if the stomach is hurting from starvation. So where is the balance for us who cannot read hearts like God can and a hand stretches out for help and in a moment I have to make a decision as to whether I will put something in it or not. (And the “have a nice day” “see ya later” attitude just can’t be on the scale, if you ask me). So here I am rambling my thoughts. I loved this post today, Craig. So many angles, so much light streaming in, but all focused on the law of love. My prayer for all of us is that we are all walking so close with the Savior that we will hear the still small voice of what we are to do in the moment and just do it.

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Cora May 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I love it here, too. Better than a “real life” Bible study. As Dawn said, we get the Greek stuff, how to pronounce the words, the meanings, the verb tenses, and even the historical, cultural stuff. We are allowed to raise our hands and ask questions and/or comment. But better than the real life stuff, we get to hit the pause button and think about it all before raising our hands. And we get to go to each other’s blogs and get to know each other and where we are all coming from. Usually, if I go to a Bible study, everyone is packing up and on their way out the door before I’ve chewed on something long enough to make a comment. And so it is today. I’ve chewed on this for a while and have some questions.

First, am I wrong in understanding that Christ Himself ministered to both the obvious need AND the “REAL” need of the persons or groups he healed, gave to, or fed, etc.? Example: the woman at the well — He drew water AND addressed her adultry problem. I can remember all the missionaries who would tell us that you cannot minister to the soul until you first feed a starving stomach or deal with the physical problems. Somewhere, somehow, how do we find the balance and how do we know in that instantaneous moment when someone puts their hand out what their “real” need would be. Are soup kitchens and food pantries a wrong approach?

It’s so great that we get to read each other’s comments. Melissa’s comment above was so good and brought out things I would have never thought of. The same with Dawn. If only we could have been the actual sisters and brothers of Jesus just as James was. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to walk beside him. Is not that the key to the whole thing, though? Walking so close to Him, and listening to His Spirit so that we just KNOW who, when, and where we minister and just do it. I couldn’t just say “have a nice day!” But as I’ve learned these past few weeks, I think I’ve done just that with my distancing myself totally from the whole issue. If you stay far enough away, you don’t even have to say THAT!

This has been the greatest discussion for me. Thank you for going into it all, Craig.

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Craig May 6, 2011 at 7:17 pm

To think we can have the full insight that Our Lord had – and I don’t think it was miraculous – I think he was just a really good people person – he watched – he observed – he understood people. I’m sure the Spirit prompted him at times but mostly I think he was just a darn good human! It’s easier for missionaries to see need I think when they’re surrounded by it. In real life I think to take the time to know someone – with me – if someone was able to sit me down in myearly 20’s – or even earlier and guide me – well that would have been good. I think, to think small circles, and get to know the needs and what help could be best – that’s love. I think the big things have their place – and even government – but one to one – small groups helping small groups – smaller – more personal – if we’re going to imitate Our Lord – I think that’s how he did it.

And remember – about James – he didn’t become a believer until either very late in the earthly ministry – and likely after Our Lord was crucified. But I think looking back – he knew it was a privileged position. So much – so many angles – and I’m only on the subject because James is – I only divulged what I did yesterday because it fit with James – he gets all the cresdit. But thank you Cora – and God Bless. Gee – put your comment and my response together it’s a post :)

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Michelle May 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm

It’s hard to know when to give, and when to stop. Especially in relationships.

I have a friend, whom it is 90% give, 10% receive. But I am there because God said, “You need to be Jesus to this person” over 13 years ago. I may never see this person come to know God, but I know that I need to be faithful in showing Christ’s love and grace. Especially the grace. And especially at this time as she now has cancer.
I will admit, though, that when the opportunity came to move to an island (yes, an island) where my husband works, we jumped at it. Something to do with the fact that nearly every time I turned around she was in my kitchen, literally. (We were next-door neighbours.) But I still saw her regularly as I worked on the mainland (the island literally has a 300m bridge from the mainland, with security at the gate – defence force), and God granted us the space to refresh the relationship.
And there are times when we have to walk away, in order to allow the person to ‘grow’.

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Craig May 7, 2011 at 6:23 am

I had one just like that – I tried for longer than the 13 years – doing acts of Love for for someone who smashed every. single. one. They just cut ties – in anger – not meaning the words – probably inwardly regretting them – it would not be the first time. But I have not re-connected – so I think there does come a time – to, as Jesus told his disciples “wipe the dust from your feet” – forgive but walk away. Knowing that time can be hard though – I get it Michelle. I do. God Bless.

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Dawn May 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Dear Craig,

I’m just going to post this for all those in your Bible Study group here. The comments are incredibly edifying. I seem to be growing at light speed. My thoughts about things you say in response to Craig’s posts enlarge my perspective so much. And then, there’s the friendships, too – the best. Thanks to one and all.

Colossians 2:2 “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ 3 in whom is hidden all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom.”

Doesn’t this make you want to shout!? It does me.
Dawn

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Craig May 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I so agree with you Dawn – the stuff down here in the comment section – that’s what makes things so special. I heart the comment section – what a great invention. Thank you Dawn. God bless.

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Debra May 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Today I have seen in the spirit realm those clouds you spoke of in Deep into Love, in which the Knight has faith that the girl lacks. For me, those clouds weren’t removed, but God allowed me, through my own eyes of faith, to see beyond them. Which brings me back to here, Deep into Scripture.
The subject here is what I’ve struggled with for some time now. How much to help those who either won’t help themselves, or have become “takers” instead of givers. As I prayed over these matters I felt the Lord’s leading to come straight over here. Now I know why.
I’ve tried to teach this friend to fish. And yet she continues to call and call for help over a certain matter. Sometimes I answer the phone and sometimes I don’t. What to do? I ask you to pray that God will give me clear discernment, as I really want to please Him above all else. Never would I turn someone away who really needs me.
Thank you for this timely message, dear Craig.

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Craig May 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Debra I just finished praying for exactly what you wrote. It’s my honor to pray. I heart praying for you – thank you . Helping isn’t always easy, sometimes it’s best to just give – then get out of the way – sometimes best to come alongside and coach. I know Our Lord did both. Discernment – I’ll pray that prayer for me too. God bless you Debra.

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Debbie May 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I’m here days later . . .so get the benefit of all the comments. :) Thanks everyone! And Craig, thank you for explaining a little more about those needs and us taking the time to make relationships so we know what the need is. I understand that we can’t do that with every single person around us with needs. I don’t get to do it nearly as much as most people do! eeekkk. So . . .can see where that is where the discernment comes in and trusting Him to give us what we need to give others, be it time, ears to listen, grace, food, shelter. Maybe just to care. To really care.
God bless you and your awesome bible study!

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Craig May 8, 2011 at 6:32 am

It is so true Deb, I;m learning that a post is never really finished until I learn from everyone in the comment sections. The old me – the unconnected – lone solitary Christian me – the one who thought I needed the Bible and God and me and that’s all me – the one who had it way wrong. That one probably wouldn’t even read the comments. Change is good – well good change is good. Thank you Deb – thank you. God Bless.

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Hillcrest Cottage May 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

I think we are living in a time in Christian-ville where it is cool and trendy to slap a $20 in beggar’s hand… not really caring for the beggar… caring more for myself and how it will make ME feel and how it will make ME look to others and how I can elevate ME above others in conversations… yadda yadda.

I believe strongly that… if I truly cared for said beggar, I would probably NOT give him a $20 for his next hit of crack. I would, instead, support the local mission who probably knows his name and his story and what is truly best for him. Oh wow… not as cool and trendy to do THAT… doesn’t make a hipster story that makes everyone else feel guilty and less-er than me.

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Craig May 8, 2011 at 10:50 am

I have to agree. I heart your attitude. Ther closer we get to the person in need, the more we know what will help them. We are supposed to be helpers to one another – but to “slap a $20 in beggar’s hand” as you put it may not be help at all – it might actually hurt. It’s all love. Love knows first – then helps – or as you suggest – it goes to people who know – and helps them help others. Amen and thank you. And God Bless!!

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Jan Messali May 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Wonderful conversations going on here. I must admit that the idea that sometimes people are supposed to go through hardships in order to grow, and that I’m not supposed to try to solve each problem for everyone around me, is fairly new to me. I’m learning to ask God IF and HOW He wants me to help others.

Thanks for the nice comment on my Salad Nicoise recipe, Craig. :) My husband’s family is from France. This is one of the recipes from his childhood that he really enjoys. Hope you enjoy it too.

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Craig May 9, 2011 at 11:59 am

Jan, I heart the conversations I have here to – I have really wise readers. And I do think if Jesus chose not always to help – well – he’s our best example – OF EVERYTHING :) I finished up the thoughts on this today. I’m looking forward to the conversation again. You sound like a problem solver – see problem – fix problem – Our Lord hearts that I’m certain. The salad is NOM. Thank you. And God bless you.

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A. May 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

Though late, I am glad I got to read here today. I, too, learn so much both from your post and from those who comment here. I am learning, too, that discernment is required in the face of need. it helps to have been on both sides of the equation: helper and helpee. i wish everyone could have both experiences. however, that doesn’t make me an expert! :) it does add insight, though, and trememdous empathy and some understanding.

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Layla Payton June 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Craig, what a VERY thought provoking post! I have enjoyed reading the comments, as well. I too will be allowing this some extra time and thought. I may even turn it into this week’s study topic. :)

~Blessings~
Layla

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Craig June 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Layla, it is a different way to look at things. I’ve never once heard it taught that Our Lord turned away from someone in need. But sometimes he did – sometimes he did. Thank you Layla – and if you branch off in thought from here – I want to know what you write – so please come back here and leave a comment telling me the post is up – or, you have my e-mail – e-mail me – because I don’t want to miss it. God bless you and keep you Layla!

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