In which Our Lord decides NOT to help… (pt2)

by Craig on May 9, 2011

It began with these verses a few days ago.

“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)

I took it to mean that I should help everybody – if I was able.

But I was wrong.

Your comments made me ponder further.

Thank you.

So I wrote a follow up post entitled “In which sometimes Jesus walked away…” (here)

source

That’s a bold statement. It needs back up.

So I talked to Our Lord about it…

(btw – In the following I’ve substituted “you” – for “him” and “he” when the Scripture referred to Jesus. At the time, I was quoting Scripture to Our Lord – about Our Lord – so – I don’t think he minded.)

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Lord, when you went to Nazareth – and, “They rose up, drove you of the town, and led you to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl you down headlong. But you passed through the midst of them and went away.” (Luke 4:1-30)

You never again set foot in Nazareth. Obviously not because of the danger; Jerusalem would prove to be far more treacherous. But maybe because staying there would have been of no use for them? So you walked away?

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And when you sent out the disciples you told them to walk away sometimes too. There is no help more important than hearing the gospel – and you told them, “Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’” (Luke 13: 10,11)

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And you said, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (MT 7:6) Is it that some people will use our help against us, or won’t use the help, or won’t appreciate it – or maybe it’s the wrong kind of help?

Discernment – I think you ask us to discern. No?

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Then, are there times when we have helped repeatedly, then need to stop helping?

“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to you, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” You said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet…” (MT 12:39)

It’s not as if you hadn’t given them plenty of signs – but in the lot of straws – this would be the last one – then no more.

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And I think of this, “Pilate said to you, “What is truth?” When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in him.” (JN 18:38)

There is no record of an answer.

I suspect you would have given him one if he really wanted to know.

But “when he said thishe left.

It implies that he didn’t even wait for an answer.

If a request for help is insincere should we ignore it?

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Pilate needed help, as did the Scribes, as did whole towns like Nazareth, as do swine who trample on pearls – and then turn.

So two things hit me.

I should be discerning with my help – because You were.

And…

since we all eventually need some sort of help,

I should remain the kind of person that is worthy of it.

No insincerity, or being unappreciative, or misusing help offered, or ever, ever turning against someone with a sincerely helpful heart.

I think I have my answers.

So I ask you guys,

because I heart what you have to say.

What do you think?

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Bristol May 9, 2011 at 10:50 am

What a great conversation with so many valuable thoughts!! I want to add one thought here (but it’s really a response to the whole conversation on previous posts as well).

I don’t want to go too “social justice-y” on everyone, but I do want to mention that there can be a systemic or communal character to need, also. I really love a lot of the feedback on what it’s like to meet an individual’s needs on a personal, relationship level — as well as the converse of sometimes needing to walk away. I also think one of the tough questions for me is how to see the bigger picture, how to live my life in a way that doesn’t contribute to systemic need (whether its poverty, hunger, loneliness, etc.) The actions of our lives are ripples into the world, right? So even beyond an individual level, we can ask what kind of family, community, or global dynamics put this brother/sister in need in the first place. How do we interact with those bigger webs of need?

Love your thoughts on discernment and responding to need, Craig. Thanks for thinking through these tough issues with such integrity!

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Craig May 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I know there are reasons – “social justice-y” kind of reasons. But I do think love works best the closer we are to whatever love might fix. To be the kind of person that loves like this – that’s the thing – to see needs – know people well enough to know what might work best. The church seems like the best place for this. No? But churches are made up of imperfect people. Broken world – pthththhhhtppphththpphhhh.

God bless you Bristol.

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A. May 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

Churches….I have been both tremendously blessed and hurt in/by churches. can’t live with ’em; can’t live without ’em.

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Debbie May 10, 2011 at 1:18 am

I like what you and He discussed and how that conversation went down . . .and all the scripture. That helps me lots. :) I’m going to try to put this into a situation that I was in recently. And I felt bad, wondered if I should’ve given. Would that have showed them Jesus more? Now, with your help and God’s, I know that it was okay not to. That talking to them and being kind and not annoyed, that was more what they needed. ( Aub and I got surrounded by little kids at Chuck E. Cheese and they wanted her tokens. You can laugh, go ahead. haha! I need to toughen up some . . .it bothered me to not hand them over.)
God bless you, Craig. as you keep sharing Him with us!

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Craig May 10, 2011 at 11:11 am

Good for you – a little tough is sometimes what’s needed. This is what I mean – throwing out random help – I don’t see Our Lord doing it – knowing someone, meeting them at the point of honest need, seeing it through – I see that. I think you did just fine. God Bless you Deb.

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A. May 10, 2011 at 11:11 am

Debbie, I am reading my way through here late, but no-it isn’t funny…I, too, get bent by even the simplest challenges…like chucky cheese tokens. your heart shows all over the place with this one!

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Michelle May 10, 2011 at 5:19 am

So two things hit me.
I should be discerning with my help – because You were.
And…
since we all eventually need some sort of help,
I should remain the kind of person that is worthy of it.

For me, I think you’ve nailed it with that there statement. :)

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Craig May 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

Michelle, now that you’ve chimed in – I feel I can say I got it. I thought I got it. Now I know. Thank you. God bless you!!

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A. May 10, 2011 at 11:17 am

So, thinking about all your recent posts….yes-help, even to the point of sacrifice, sometimes, and discernment, that is needed too so we can find the tire that is flat and not just put air in any tire.

worthy of help….well, in some ways, none of us are completely worthy and Jesus offered us His help even when we didn’t deserve it? I try not to think of a person’s ‘worthiness’ but tend to think, instead, of ‘timeliness’…is this the time to help; is this how I should help, am I the one that should help here or is there another?,etc.

I am not an expert, and so I am glad to learn here, Craig, from your ‘bible study’ friends and you! (And from your love kitty!!!!)

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Dawn May 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Dear Craig,

Your post was so well done that we are all “getting it,” even you!!!! Thanks, Michelle, for the synopsis and A. I am still laughing while typing…”so we can find the tire that is flat and not just put air in any tire.” Where do you get this stuff? Fabulous. I’ll laughed every time I pump up my bike tires.

My humble thanks to everyone,
Dawn

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Craig May 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm

It is a group effort here. No? I make a post – I over reach in my conclusion (help everybody) – You make me think – I do more posts and clearly flush out the subject – I find answers – then I know I get it because Michelle tells me I get it – and you tell me I get it – and A. throws in a metaphor. My year of “connect” is turning out unexpectedly well. Thank you Dawn.

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Christina May 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Two of my fav. books on the subject: Crazy Love and When Helping Hurts(this one by a Covenant College prof.)
As one who has worked in the social work and counseling field, it is a tough issue. Never an easy answer. But those 2 books have helped me a lot in answering some of those questions.
Love reading your posts on James!

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Craig May 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Read Crazy Love – hearted it – we could use some good old fashioned religion – not “old fashioned religion” – but OLD first century Christian fashioned religion. No.? Believe – love up – love around. And which prof Christina ? (remember Seminary was a wile ago) And James – I heart me some James. And I heart that you read me. Thank you – God bless.

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Dawn May 10, 2011 at 7:50 pm

You know, Craig, connecting is a very “female” approach. I know you know this, but I just have to rub it in a little ’cause you’re such a good sport! The dogs are all sleeping at my feet. It’s a quiet evening here in Small Town.

God bless and I’ll “see” you sometime after the blue of morning,
Dawn

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Craig May 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I’m very secure in my masculinity – but have a very strong feminine side Dawn, heart chick flicks, crying (at movies – not so much life), I’m a cat person, and I’m hearting connecting. Still don’t understand shoes though…

God bless you Dawn.

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