Help, Helping

"Wicked will outlive ya" - quote from Marc 'Twin Towers Top Man'
“Wicked will outlive ya” – quote from Marc ‘Twin Towers Top Man’

To help others we must get involved:

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus.  He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. – NIV Genesis 14:14-16

When Abram learned that Lot was a prisoner, he immediately tried to rescue his nephew. It is easier and safer not to become involved.  But with Lot in serious trouble, Abram acted at once.  Sometimes we must get involved in a messy or painful situation in order to help others.  We should be willing to act immediately when others need our help.

(These incidents portray two of Abram’s characteristics: (1) He had courage that came from God. Facing a powerful foe, he attacked.  (2) He was prepared.  He had taken time to train him men for a potential conflict.  We never know when we will be called upon to complete difficult tasks.  Like Abram, we should prepare for those times and take courage from God when they come.)

Nothing too hard for God’s help:

Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” – NIV Genesis 18:14

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” The obvious answer is, “Of course not!”  This question reveals much about God.  Make it a habit to insert your specific needs into the question.  “Is this day in my life too hard for the LORD?”  “Is this habit I’m trying to break too hard for him?”  “Is the communication problem I’m having too hard for him?”  Asking the question this way reminds you that God is personally involved in your life and nudges you to ask for his power to help you.

Are you willing to let God help you?

Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well.  He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. – NIV Exodus 4:14

God finally agreed to let Aaron speak for Moses. Moses’ feelings of inadequacy were so strong that he could not trust even God’s ability to help him.  Moses had to deal with his deep sense of inadequacy many times.  When we face difficult or frightening situations, we must be willing to let God help us.

God’s laws designed to help, not restrain us:

“ ‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you.  Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.  –  NIV Leviticus 20:22-23

God gave many rules to his people but not without reason.  He did not withhold good from them; he only prohibited those acts that would bring them to ruin.  All of us understand God’s physical laws of nature.  For example, jumping off a ten-storey building means death because of the law of gravity.  But some of us don’t understand how God’s spiritual laws work.  God forbids us to do certain things because he wants to keep us from self-destruction.  Next time, you are drawn to a forbidden physical or emotional pleasure, remind yourself that its consequences might be suffering and separation from the God who is trying to help you.

Not all who offer spiritual help are sincere:

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods.  So Israel joined in worshipping the Baal of Peor.  And the LORD’s anger burned against them.  –  NIV Numbers 25:1-3

This combination of sexual sin and idolatry, it turns out, was Balaam’s idea (see 31:16; Revelation 2:14), the same Balaam who had just blessed Israel and who appeared to be on their side. It is easy to see how the Israelites were misled, for Balaam seemed to say and do all the right things – at least for a while (22-24).  Not until Balaam had inflicted great damage on them did the Israelites realise that he was greedy, used sorcery, and was deeply involved in pagan religious practices.  We must be careful to weigh both the words and the deeds of those who claim to offer spiritual help.

Help those who help you:

Then they came up to him and said, “We would like to build pens here for our livestock and cities for our women and children. But we are ready to arm ourselves and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place.  Meanwhile our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land.  We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance.  We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan.”  –  NIV Numbers 32:16-19

The land on the east side of the Jordan River had been conquered. The hard work was done by all of the tribes together.  But the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh did not stop after their land was cleared.  They promised to keep working with the others until everyone’s land was conquered.  After others have helped you, do you make excuses to escape helping them?  Finish the whole job, even those parts that may not benefit you directly.

God’s help often comes gradually:

Do not be terrified by them, for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little.  You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.  But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed.  He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven.  No-one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them.  –  NIV Deuteronomy 7:21-24

Moses told the Israelites that God would destroy Israel’s enemies, but not all at once. God had the power to destroy those nations instantly, but he chose to do it in stages.  In the same way and with the same power, God could miraculously and instantaneously change your life.  Usually, however, he chooses to help you gradually, teaching you one lesson at a time.  Rather than expecting instant spiritual maturity and solutions to all your problems, slow down and work one step at a time, trusting God to make up the difference between where you should be and where you are now.  You’ll soon look back and see that a miraculous transformation has occurred.

God helps us when we least expect it:

So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks.  He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”  –  NIV 1 Kings 17:10ff

In a nation that was required by law to care for its prophets, it is ironic that God turned to ravens (unclean birds) and a widow (a foreigner from Jezebel’s home territory) to care for Elijah. God has help where we least expect it.  He provides for us in ways that go beyond our narrow definitions or expectations.  No matter how bitter our trials or how seemingly hopeless our situation, we should look for God’s caring touch.  We may find his providence in some strange places!

Don’t be afraid to ask others for:

I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?”  And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.  –  NIV Nehemiah 2:7-8

After his prayer, Nehemiah asked the king for permission to go to Judah. As soon as he got a positive answer, he began asking for additional help.  Sometimes when we have needs, we hesitate to ask the right people for help because we are afraid to approach them.  Not Nehemiah!  He went directly to the person who could help him the most.  Don’t be reluctant to ask those who are most able to help.  They may be more interested and approachable than you think.  God’s answers to prayer may come as a result of our asking others.

Why do you want God’s help without being willing to repent:

This is the word of the LORD to Jeremiah concerning the drought –  NIV Jeremiah 14:1ff

Drought was a judgment with devastating consequences. As usual, when their backs were to the wall, the people cried out to God.  But God rejected their plea because they did not repent; they merely wanted his rescue.  Not even Jeremiah’s prayers would help.  Their only hope was to turn to God.

Why Jesus is qualified to help us:

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. –  NIV Matthew 1:18

Why is the virgin birth important to the Christian faith? Jesus Christ, God’s Son, had to be free from the sinful nature passed on to all other human beings by Adam.  Because Jesus was born of a woman, he was a human being; but as the Son of God, Jesus was born without any trace of human sin.  Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.

Because Jesus lived as a man, we know that he fully understands our experiences and struggles (Hebrews 4:15, 16). Because he is God, he has the power and authority to deliver us from sin (Colossians 2:13-15).  We can tell Jesus all our thoughts, feelings, and needs.  He has been where we are now, and he has the ability to help.

Jesus can help when no one else can:

When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.”  But they laughed at him.  After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.  News of this spread through all that region.  – NIV Matthew 9:23-26        

The synagogue ruler didn’t come to Jesus until his daughter was dead – it was too late for anyone else to help. But Jesus simply went to the girl and raised her!  In our lives, Christ can make a difference when it seems too late for anyone else to help.  He can bring healing to broken relationships, release from addiction, and forgiveness and healing to emotional scars.  If your situation looks hopeless, remember that Christ can do the impossible.

Do your convictions keep you from helping people?

…and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  –  NIV Matthew 12:10-12

The Pharisees placed their laws above human need. They were so concerned about Jesus breaking one of their rules that they did not care about the man’s shrivelled hand.  What is your attitude towards others?  If your convictions don’t allow you to help certain people, your convictions may not be in tune with God’s word.  Don’t allow dogma to blind you to human need.

Helping others is a priority:

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites” Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?  Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”  –  NIV Luke 13:15-16

The Pharisees hid behind their own set of laws to avoid love’s obligations. We too can use the letter of the law to rationalise away our obligation to care for others (for example, through tithing regularly and then refusing to help a needy neighbour).  But people’s needs are more important than rules and regulations.  Take time to help others, even if doing so might compromise your public image.

Always comes to those with faith:

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. –  NIV Luke 18:35

Beggars often waited along the roads near cities, because that was where they were able to contact the most people. Usually disabled in some way, beggars were unable to earn a living.  Medical help was not available for their problems, and people tended to ignore their obligation to care for the needy (Leviticus 25:35-38).  Thus beggars had little hope of escaping their degrading way of life.  But this blind beggar took hope in the Messiah.  He shamelessly cried out for Jesus’ attention, and Jesus said that his faith allowed him to see.  No matter how desperate your situation may seem, if you call out to Jesus in faith, he will help you.

Contrasted with hurting others:

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. –  NIV John 8:9

When Jesus said that only someone who had not sinned should throw the first stone, the leaders slipped quietly away, from oldest to youngest. Evidently, the older men were more aware of their sins than the younger.  Age and experience often temper youthful self-righteousness.  But whatever your age, take an honest look at your life.  Recognise your sinful nature, and look for ways to help others rather than hurt them.

From Jesus’ extraordinary resources:

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” – NIV John 11:3

As their brother grew very sick, Mary and Martha turned to Jesus for help. They believed in his ability to help because they had seen his miracles.  We too know of Jesus’ miracles, both from Scripture and through changed lives we have seen.  When we need extraordinary help, Jesus offers extraordinary resources.  We should not hesitate to ask him for assistance.

A good way to demonstrate love:

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” –  NIV John 13:35

Love is more than simply warm feelings; it is an attitude that reveals itself in action. How can we love others as Jesus loves us?  By helping when it’s not convenient, by giving when it hurts, by devoting energy to others’ welfare rather than our own, by absorbing hurts from others without complaining or fighting back.  This kind of loving is hard to do.  That is why people notice when you do it and know you are empowered by a supernatural source.  The Bible has another beautiful description of love in 1 Corinthians 13.

Sharing is a form of helping others:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. –  NIV Acts 2:44

Recognising the other believers as brothers and sisters in the family of God, the Christians in Jerusalem shared all they had so that all could benefit from God’s gifts. It is tempting – especially if we have material wealth – to cut ourselves off from one another, each taking care of his or her own interests, each providing for and enjoying his or her own little piece of the world.  But as part of God’s spiritual family, it is our responsibility to help one another in every way possible.  God’s family works best when its members work together.

Giving it to new believers:

They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.  “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.  –  NIV Acts 14:21-22

Paul and Barnabas returned to visit the believers in all the cities where they had recently been threatened and physically attacked.  These men knew the dangers they faced, yet they believed that they had a responsibility to encourage the new believers.  No matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable the task may seem, we must always support new believers who need our help and encouragement.  It was not convenient or comfortable for Jesus to go to the cross for us!

Helping others vs. judging them:

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.  –  NIV 1 Corinthians 4:5

It is tempting to judge fellow Christians, evaluating whether or not they are good followers of Christ. But only God knows a person’s heart, and he is the only one with the right to judge.  Paul’s warning to the Corinthians should also warn us.  We are to confront those who are sinning (see 5:12, 13), but we must not judge who is a better servant for Christ.  When you judge someone, you invariably consider yourself better – and that is arrogant.

We should help others:

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sing, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  –  NIV Galatians 6:1-3

No Christian should ever think that he or she is totally independent and doesn’t need help from others, and no-one should feel excused from the task of helping others. The body of Christ – the church – functions only when the members work together for the common good.  Do you know someone who needs help?  Is there a Christian brother or sister who needs correction or encouragement?  Humbly and gently reach out to that person (John 13:34, 35).

 

©Kingsway International 1973.

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