Accepting Healthy Help from Our Brethren

We have a tendency to live in extremes. We sometimes have a hard time walking down a middle path. For instance, some of us who have had trouble with our eating, have lived as if what we ate didn’t matter. We didn’t worry about any of the consequences. Then the New Year rolls around and we decide to drop a few pounds. We put ourselves on such a strict and controlling diet that we never get to enjoy anything. Usually, that doesn’t work and end up going right back to eating like it doesn’t matter. Some of us have spent money like it grows on trees, never balancing the checkbook, running up credit card debt, getting in to trouble. Then the New Year rolls around and we decide to get that money stuff under control. We opt for the plan Dave Ramsey ridicules deciding to hide in a cave collecting lint and only come out on coupon Thursdays. That usually doesn’t work out too well for us and we go back to spending money like water. We go back and forth from extremes that are unhealthy for us and have a hard time settling on that middle ground that is healthy and helpful.

One area where Christians have a tendency to walk in extremes is in the area of accepting help from brethren. Instead of walking down the middle road of accepting healthy help from brethren, most of us live in extremes. At one extreme, we act like we can’t take care of ourselves and the brethren owe us help for everything. We become shameless in our pleas for help. At the other extreme, we act like we never need help. We’ve always got everything under control. We become ashamed to ask for help. Both of these extremes are wrong. Neither is healthy.

Look at the balanced approach Paul presents in II Corinthians 8:13-15 as he talked about the Christians in Corinth helping out their brethren in Judea. “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.’”

Needs arise for everyone at some time. They may be large needs involving lots of money. They may be small needs merely involving help with a meal or getting a ride somewhere. Needs arise for everyone. There is no shame in having needs. There is no shame in asking and receiving help.

Sometimes we’ll be the person needing some help. Sometimes we’ll be the person able to give the help. God set it up this way so that we could each be a blessing to each other in varying times. We should not think we are less than worthy because we’re the ones asking for help at this time. Neither should we puff up with arrogance because on this occasion we’re the ones able to offer help.

We should avoid the two extremes. Some have an entitlement mindset. If someone has something that they don’t, they are entitled to it. They become shameless in asking for help and never take personal responsibility for where they are and overcoming their own problems. They become a leech on the church and their brethren. That is wrong. Others, however, have an ashamed mindset. They are afraid to be an inconvenience to people. They are embarrassed to admit they need help or made a mistake. They feel like they just aren’t worthy to receive any help. So they never ask and they refuse help freely offered even when they could use it. If they are prevailed upon to receive help, they feel guilty and ashamed as if they’ve done something wrong by getting help. That is also wrong.

Let’s not walk in the extremes. Let’s walk in the balance that Paul talked about. We shouldn’t be leeches. At the same time, there is no shame in receiving help. Who knows but at another time we’ll be the ones giving someone a ride, fixing a meal, offering some money.

By the way, though I’ve talked about a financial need, these same principles apply in every walk of life—emotionally, physically, materially, mentally, and spiritually. Walk with a healthy balance. Avoid the extremes.


I Can’t Fix Them, I Should Just Work on Me

I’m so excited about our upcoming meeting with Terry Francis on October 11-14. Here’s a taste of what brother Francis will bring us. Thanks for the guest post, Terry.

I Can’t Fix Them, I Should Just Work On Me

The Bob the Builder song is recognizable to many: “Bob the builder, can he fix it? Bob the builder, yes he can!” Peyton used to watch “Bob the Builder.” Today, kids watch “Handy Manny.” Both shows promote the same idea. With their assortment of animated tools, Bob and Manny can fix anything that is broken. While they complete the repair or construction project at hand, they also fix other people in the process.

Sometimes we suffer from the “Bob the Builder” syndrome. Insert your name to understand this problem: “_____________ the builder, can he fix it? ______________ the builder, yes he can!” Many suffer from this problem. We go through life attempting to fix every problem there is. We attempt to fix our mate, our kids, our friends, our brethren, etc.

If you suffer from “Bob the Builder” syndrome here is my advice: STOP! We have to stop trying to fix other people. All who suffer from “Bob the Builder” syndrome must realize we are incapable of fixing others. One can teach his brethren how to avoid sinful behavior, but he can’t fix them by making them stop their behavior. Each person must fix himself. A father can teach his children about the value of hard work and dedication, but he can’t make them practice those values. Each of his children must make their own choices. A husband can lead in a godly way but he can’t force his wife to practice godly submission. She must make that choice. Often people feel compelled to fix other people in these areas because it is a reflection of their character. It isn’t. The behavior of other people does not define you.

It is interesting to note that in 1 Peter 3, Peter tells wives who have unbelieving husbands how to win them over. Peter didn’t say, “Fix him by preaching to him every morning and evening about the value of following God and going to heaven.” In contrast Peter said, “…be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1). Peter’s instruction was to encourage the unbelieving husband by being the best person they could be—not by fixing him.

One reason so many pretend to be “Bob the Builder” is it provides a good distraction. As long as one is fixing others around him, he can avoid fixing himself. Jesus spoke of the judging brother who sought to remove a speck from his brother’s eye instead of removing the log from his own (Matthew 7:3–5). The mistakes of others provide a distraction from being accountable. Fixing others is easier—and coincidentally more fun—than honestly evaluating and correcting one’s own mistakes. It’s similar to the neighborhood barber whose hair is shaggy and un-kept. He’s simply too busy fixing other people to take care of himself.

Start your recovery from “Bob the Builder” syndrome today. Focus on fixing yourself instead of others. That doesn’t mean you stop teaching and instructing those you love. It simply means you teach and allow them the freedom to choose how they respond. They may decide not to listen. If that is their choice, we must choose our own response. As parents, that may involve discipline. As brethren, it can also involve discipline when the church is involved. We must allow others to choose their own path—to fix their own life.

Isn’t that how God treats us? He could have fixed us against our own will. Instead, He simply gave us the Gospel and allows us to choose to fix our own lives. None of us will be held accountable for fixing anyone else—we are all accountable for fixing our own life. Stop fixing others and start fixing yourself today!