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.

Share

Being Servants

When I was a much younger man, thinking of servants conjured up a picture of someone like a butler or a maid; someone who is in the employ of a rich family. As I grew older, I realized there is a broad range of people whose occupations could fall under the heading of servant. We talk about public servants such as elected officials, those who work in governments or law enforcement or fire fighters. Simply put, we think of people who serve other people.

When we look in the scriptures, we see many examples of servants. The greatest example of a servant is Jesus Himself. He states in Matthew 20:28 that he “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (NASB). He came to serve the will of His father and in the process served all mankind by humbling Himself and sacrificing His life to buy our freedom from sin.

If one thinks himself to be above the role of a servant, he has much to learn about what it means to be humble. In Matthew 20, the verses preceding Jesus’ declaration that He came to serve speak to what it takes to truly be a humble servant like Him. He states in verses 26-27, “…but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave” (NASB).

A true servant of God not only has to submit to God’s wishes, he must put the interests of others ahead of his own. This is a very difficult concept for man to grasp. I confess this is hard for me to put into practice. Sadly, we are ‘me first’ beings. In Philippians 2:2-11, it tells us to adopt the mind of Christ, the ultimate servant.  God’s children will be united in Him if we are of the same mind, the same love, united in spirit and intent on one purpose. How? “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (NASB).

Through the years, I have been acquainted with a number of people I am confident tried to pattern their lives after Jesus and the words of Philippians 2. Some have been elders, deacons, preachers, class teachers and some have done none of these things in serving God and others. They have been servants nevertheless. They have been people who served God and silently served other Christians without being noticed and not wanting to be noticed. I have known women of various congregations who have done the work required of ‘widows indeed.’

I look around in the Franklin congregation and see many who are servants whether it is common knowledge or behind the scenes. They are people who are intent on serving God and their fellow saints.

I have observed examples of this attitude in a couple and their children who will be leaving this congregation shortly and moving. Mark and Kim Jones have faithfully served God and the saints at Franklin for a number of years. Mark has served as a deacon and Kim has worked diligently on the young people’s class curriculum in addition to many other works of service. They will be sorely missed. When servants like them have to leave a congregation, a big hole is left to fill. The Jones family is leaving us with an example of service like that mentioned of the children of Israel in Nehemiah 4:6 “…for the people had a mind to work” (NASB). Do we have a mind to work? Let’s all work the works God has given us to do.

–Ron Adams 

Share

Trouble Feeling Like a Christian? Get Out and Serve Someone

Our relief trip got postponed a week. But it was great. Checkout the report, complete with pictures in the events thread under Hurricane Ike Relief Trip.

Today, I just want to share something I learned last week. I don’t think I have ever felt more like a Christian than I did last week. Now don’t get me wrong. I know feeling like a Christian doesn’t make me one. I know that being of service doesn’t earn salvation or make me a Christian. I know all of that. However, I can’t shake this lesson. 

I have preached full time for nearly 14 years. I have held dozens of meetings and preached to crowds in the hundreds. I have been involved in wonderfully fulfilling small group studies. I have taught hundreds of Bible classes. I have taught numerous one on one studies and baptized dozens of people. I have written five books and produced one dvd. Yet, for all of this, I felt most like a Christian last week crawling around on my hands and knees, pulling nails, cutting insulation and hanging sheetrock.

That especially came home to me on Friday as we had just completed working on our final house and the brother who was the son of the homeowner offered the prayer for the meal. As he began to cry giving thanks not just for the meal but for our help, I felt like I had really been serving the Lord.

Have you ever felt disconnected from God? Have you ever felt like you just weren’t all there as a Christian? I believe you can find the answer right here. If you want to draw near to God, don’t wallow in self-pity in your home. Go find someone to serve. 

Doesn’t this just make sense? Jesus said, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” (Matthew 20:28, ESV). How better to feel connected to Jesus than to go out and act like Him.

Maybe it won’t work like this for you. But this is a lesson I’ll never forget for me.

May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him. More importantly, may you richly bless God.

Share