When you see or know of someone who needs help, do you feel bad for them, and then go about your day? Or do you allow your schedule to be disrupted? I always think of two stories when I’m faced with that scenario. First I think of the Good Samaritan who disrupted his day to render aid while everyone else passed by. The other is in Matthew 25 when Jesus was telling the people about judgement day. He separated people into two groups. One group visited the sick, clothed the naked and ministered to prisoners, the others did not. He said that when we help the least, we’re helping Him. I can’t help but wonder what His response will be to me if I say I was too busy, too distracted or too apathetic to help someone in need. Who knows if God changes our path or someone else’s some days so that He can express His love through our help.
Here are some Bible verses on helping others.
1. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Acts of the Apostles 20:35 NLT
2. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.
Titus 3:14 ESV
3. Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 GNT
4. If you think you are somebody too important to stoop down to help another (when really you are not), you are living in deception.
Galatians 6:3 TPT
5. Do not forget to do good and to help one another, because these are the sacrifices that please God.
I was talking with someone recently about how incomes have fluctuated during the pandemic. Some people’s income increased and many’s decreased. They were saying how theirs decreased, but they wanted to maintain their giving level through their season of having less money. They were following a Biblical principle of giving. No matter how much or how little we have, we are to give to God and others. I cant help but think of the widow’s mites. We don’t get to see the blessing side of her story, just the obedience side. I believe God opened the windows of Heaven and blessed her because she continued to give and bless others no matter how little she had.
Here are some Bible verses on blessing others through giving.
1. Do not neglect to do good, to contribute [to the needy of the church as an expression of fellowship], for such sacrifices are always pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16 AMP
2. The generous man [is a source of blessing and] shall be prosperous and enriched, And he who waters will himself be watered [reaping the generosity he has sown].
Proverbs 11:25 AMP
3. For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, “You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor in your land.”
Deuteronomy 15:11 AMP
4. When you are generous to the poor, you are enriched with blessings in return.
Proverbs 22:9 TPT
5. Take advantage of every opportunity to be a blessing to others, especially to our brothers and sisters in the family of faith!
It wasn’t that long ago that there were national headlines that read, “Philadelphia Subway Riders Witness Rape, But Did Nothing.” There is some dispute over those headlines, but there were a number of people there who were so busy on their phones that they didn’t even notice it happening right by them. Someone needed help, and no one ingervened. It reminds me of a TV show I’ve watched called “What Would You Do?” They have hidden cameras and have actors playing out different scenarios where someone needs help. Most people don’t get involved because it’s none of their business. The ones that do help, tell the reporter that they had to do something because no one else was.
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. A person had been beaten up and robbed on a busy road. People may have witnessed it, but did nothing. The next part is just as shocking. A priest sees the man lying there naked and beaten up, looks at him and walks by on the other side. Then a person who worked in the Temple came by, saw him and walked away. The least likely person to help walked by, saw him, had compassion on him and helped him. Jesus asked the crowd who acted neighborly towards the injured man. When they told Him the Samaritan was, He told them to go act the same way towards people.
Proverbs 3:27 says, “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person” (MSG). In order to help others, we need to be aware of our surroundings and the people around us. We are God’s hands in a broken world. So many people that you know are in need of help one way or another. We can’t hide behind the excuse that we don’t know how to help them or we don’t have enough. If the boy that had the five loaves and two fish had looked at what he had compared to the crowd, he would have thought the same thing. However, when he was willing to help, Jesus took what He had and made it more than enough. Give what you can (listening ear, money, a room, etc.), and let God do the rest.
When I talk to leaders, I often have a conversation with them about the difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling because you have been there yourself. Sympathy is acknowledging what someone else is feeling even though you haven’t experienced it yourself. They are slightly different, however Empathy can be much stronger because you can have a deeper emotional connection. Just because you haven’t experienced it yourself though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express sympathy. In both cases, you’re working to share the emotional load of another person.
Galatians 6:2-3 says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important” (NLT). This commandment is given to all of us to help one another in whatever burden someone else is carrying. I’ve seen many believers back away from a situation because they couldn’t empathize with that person. The load of their situation was crushing them, but no one came to their aid. This where sympathy comes in. It can express itself by simply sitting with that person. Your physical presence tells them they’re not alone thereby taking some of their burden off of them.
Each of us have our own problems, but we are better and stronger when we carry them together. From the beginning God said it was not good for us to be alone. He built us for connection and to help each other. If you look around today, you will see someone in your path who is struggling to carry a heavy burden. Whether you can empathize or sympathize with them, it’s important to let them know they’re seen and they’re not alone. If you think back to a time when you were burdened down, you will remember how desperate you were for some acknowledgment that would give you hope and strength. Today, you have that opportunity to be that for someone else. Don’t miss that opportunity, and in doing so, you will fulfill the law of Christ in loving your neighbor.
After speaking at a high school chapel service, a young girl came up to me and asked how she could know what her calling was. I told her to find her holy discontentment and start there. She still seemed a little confused, so I asked her to think about things that break her heart when she sees them. Then I gave her some advice I heard Andy Stanley give: Do for one what you wish you could do for many. Sometimes we look at an entire problem, feel inadequate and give up. You may not be able to eradicate hunger in the world by yourself, but you can feed one person. Start there. Do for one what you wish you could do for many. When you prove you can be faithful helping one, God will empower you to help many. It all starts with one.
I can’t help but think of King David wanting to show kindness to Saul’s family. When he found out Jonathan had a son that was still alive, he had him brought in. Historically, when a new family took over the throne, they wiped out the bloodline of the previous ruling family. Jonathan’s son thought that was what was going to happen to him when the king summoned him. However, David placed himself in this young man’s shoes and decided to show him kindness. If the roles had been switched, he would have appreciated kindness to his grandson. He then did for one what he wanted to do for any in Saul’s line; he gave him a seat at the king’s table and restored his family’s property.
I know you probably grew up reciting the Golden Rule and were taught to treat others the way you want to be treated, but what if you used it as a measuring stick for fulfilling your calling? I love the perspective that The Message gives it in Matthew 7:12. It says, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” When you have found your holy discontentment, do for one what you wish people would do for you if you were in that situation. Quit making the excuse that the problem is too great, you don’t have the resources to make a difference or that you’re not ready. Find one person in that situation and do what you can. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but you have to start. Put yourself in their shoes, think of what you would like for someone to do for you, take the initiative and do it.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand busy work. I hate being given a task just for the sake of having something to do. I see it as a waste of time rather than a time filler. Nothing truly productive comes from it. I’d rather save my energy, brain power and time doing nothing rather than doing meaningless tasks. Whether it’s at work, home or wherever, we’ve all been given busy work since we were kids.
Sometimes doing things for God feels like busy work. I can’t see the purpose behind doing what He’s asked, so it feels like busy work. Whether it’s busy work or not, I obey because it’s God who is asking. Many times it’s simply to go somewhere, pick someone up, say something to someone, serve at an event or something like it. When I don’t get to see the impact or reason, it can feel like busy work to me.
I was discussing this with one of my pastor friends recently. Then I recalled a couple of events that I could barely remember doing, but the people I helped acted as if I had saved their life. The “busy work” on my part had a significant meaning to the person God was directing it toward. It was a great reminder that often what we do for God may feel like busy work at times to us, but to others, it’s life changing stuff.
Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:58, “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless” (GNT). If you’re feeling like God has given you a lot of busy work lately, take heart. Nothing you do for Him is useless. It’s not a waste of your time, talents or resources. Often you’re changing lives without even knowing it. God doesn’t give out busy work to keep us occupied. He gives us work that we’re to stay busy at because eternity is at stake.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Several years ago I got a group of people together online who were going through difficult times. My plan was to meet with them each day for 30 days to provide them with encouragement from God’s Word as I shared the struggle I had made it through. I think we were about a week into it when one of the participants messaged me and said, “We get it that you made it through. What we need to know is how you made it through.” It was an aha moment for me as a writer, but as I went to answer her, I realized I hadn’t stopped to consider the steps I had taken to survive. The group quickly fizzled out because I didn’t have that answer. I wanted to help them, but just because I had walked where they were walking didn’t help them much. It gave them hope that they could survive, but still left them without a roadmap out.
There are several books of the Bible that share with us the struggles that David went through. He waited nearly 15 years from the time he was anointed king to becoming king, he ran from Saul, faced a coup from his son, sinned against God and so much more. His life was not perfect and he went through a lot. Reading about those things is inspiring, but it’s the Psalms that draw us in because they are the roadmap. They share how he survived those trials and consequences. He writes out where he put his hope, how he trusted God and that he needed a new heart. They speak to us more than the stories because as we go through difficulties, we need practical information of how to get through things.
2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God” (GNT). If you’ve made it through troubled times, think about how you made it through so you can help those who will go through something similar later. If you’re going through hard times now, keep a journal. It may be the key that helps someone else later. Your trials are not without purpose. Yes, they help purify you and strengthen you, but they’re also so that you can help someone else later. God helps us through difficult times, but there are practical things you’re doing or have done that other will need to know. Don’t get stuck without an answer like I was. Be prepared to help with a roadmap when the time comes.
Several years ago, I was in a meeting with my boss, his boss and a regional president along with the other managers in my district. It was the start of a new quarter and we had to come in, defend our numbers from the past quarter and project what we were going to produce next quarter. The big boss was known for how hard on people she was. The guy right before me, got to his slide about next quarter’s numbers and she stopped him. She asked, “What are you doing to get these numbers?” He said, “What we’re going to do is,” and she interrupted him. “I didn’t ask what you were going to do. I asked what you were doing.” He started the same way again. She interrupted again and said, “If you were going to get these results, you wouldn’t be waiting to do anything. You’d be doing it now.” She told him to sit down, looked at me and said, “Let’s jump to this slide on yours and talk about what you’re doing today.”
As hard as that meeting was, I learned a valuable truth. We talk about tomorrow a lot and the things we’re going to do, but the truth is that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. How can we put off doing something worthwhile that will be impactful to a time period we’re not guaranteed? James wanted to know this too. In James 4, he talked about taking advantage of the moment you’re given: today. In verse 17 he penned some tough words like that president in the meeting. He wrote, “So if you know of an opportunity to do the right thing today, yet you refrain from doing it, you’re guilty of sin” (TPT). Ouch. To not take advantage of an opportunity to do the right thing right now is sin.
My middle initial is “P”. People always ask what it stands for. I like to tell them, “Procrastinator!” James doesn’t leave us any room for procrastination though. Every one of us are presented with opportunities to help people and to make a difference, but we second guess ourselves and procrastinate. Procrastination leads to excuses on why you didn’t accomplish something. I don’t want to stand before God one day with a list of excuses why I didn’t do something when given the opportunity. It’s time that you and I start taking advantage of the opportunities God gives us to make a difference each day. It may not have the global impact we want or get the attention of others that we crave, but it will get results for the person or people you help and will be noticed by God.
Throughout the last couple of millennia, Christianity has thrived in times of pandemics and plagues. While the world is full of fear from an unseen enemy, Christians have peace in knowing death is not the end. They know the words Jesus spoke, “Do not let your heart be troubled…Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…Love your neighbor as yourself.” They have then put those words into practice. There are stories of places where the plagues were killing everyone, but it was the Christians who tended to the sick without fear. They used times of global fear to show the love of Christ and to explain the hope of salvation while hearts were open to understanding and learning about God.
I believe today is no different. We should be on the frontlines of bringing hope and peace. We should be encouraging people rather than living in fear. These windows of opportunity only open so often and close as quickly as they open. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “If anyone asks about the hope living in you, always be ready to explain your faith” (TPT). It’s times like these that we should be helping, encouraging and sharing our faith. When we put others first, especially in crisis, they want to know why we are doing what we are doing. That’s when we share the hope we have. That’s when we tell them our lives are not our own.
Hebrews 10:24 says, “Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.” What creative things have you seen people doing for others lately? I’ve seen churches make masks to donate, care for widows, buy groceries for people out of work, offer drive through pantries and more. What can you do to bring hope and show compassion as an expression of God’s love? What has God put in your heart to do? Share it with others and encourage them to help you do it. This is our time to make a difference. This is our time to show others the peace they can have even in a crisis. Look for creative ways to encourage people being affected by this pandemic, and then go do it. You don’t need permission, you just need passion.
One of most accurate memes I’ve seen during this quarantine is, “Check on your extroverted friends. We’re not ok!” With everyone working and staying at home, people are looking for ways to connect. One way is to do a Facebook live video. In face so many are doing it now that Facebook has had to shift its resources and focus to improving that feature because of the use it’s getting. I also saw a Hallmark commercial where they are giving three free cards to everyone who requests them on their website. They’re wanting people to stay connected and to send encouraging words to someone else during this time. There is a unique opportunity right now to speak life into other people like never before.
If you watch the news, it’s hard to find hope of this ending anytime soon. The no school and stay home orders keep getting extended. Unemployment is rising every day as businesses struggle to adapt and fear keeps consumers home and from buying. Hope is what people are hungry for. In fact, I read an article yesterday from Pew research that said over 50% of people have now prayed for Coronavirus to end. People who haven’t talked to God in years or who have doubted His existence are now reaching out. The need for good news and hope is great. Have you prayed to ask God how He can use you to meet that need?
Don’t panic. Most of what God asks us to do are small steps of faith. It could be a Facebook live video, commenting on a post, sending an email (or card) or posting a prayer. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Nothing is more appealing than speaking beautiful, life-giving words. For they release sweetness to our souls and inner healing to our spirits” (TPT). You have the ability to bring healing right now. You have the ability to speak beautiful, life giving words. All it takes is for you to seek God on how He wants to use you during this time. You can do it because the same Spirit that dwelled in Christ, dwells in you. You are empowered to make a difference right now and to release sweetness to souls. You can make a difference today through the words you use.