Every once in a while I get burned out on being burned in benevolence. Churches regularly get calls from people asking for assistance. A lot of the time the person doing the asking is also doing a bit of lying or scamming. And most of the time it’s easy to spot. That doesn’t mean they don’t need help. They do – probably more than they or I could ever imagine. The temptation is always there . . . the temptation to turn them away or to scold and condemn them for the choices that brought them to their current state.
That’s a temptation that I must resist. It’s a temptation we all have to resist. In the past I have often thought of Hebrews 13:2 in order to . . . I suppose, give myself a reason to help even though logic said I shouldn’t. It says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. ” The more I read and study and meditate on Jesus, on who He was and is and is all about, the more I realize that Hebrews 13:2 isn’t good enough. Using it in this sense is akin to a teenager not throwing a party when his parents are out of town because he knows the neighbors might check in. Though sometimes we’ll take it, it’s not good enough.
Helping people should be a priority, not because we may get caught not helping people. But because that’s what Jesus did. If I am going to wear his name, shouldn’t I at least try to walk in his path? Most of the time it’s not logical for me to help the people who come to the door of our church building – especially when I can see track marks on their arms, or they have a long rap sheet or they refuse to help themselves. But every time I look in their eyes I can’t help but see Jesus looking back at me. After all, how logical was it for him to help me even though the marks of sin are still evident in my life and the list of my transgressions is both long and offensive and there are days when he must wonder if I’ll ever get my act together.
We shouldn’t help because we’re supposed to – we should help because we Jesus helped. And we shouldn’t love so that we’ll be loved – we should love because he first loved us. A fellow preacher shared this story recently. Enjoy.
“I am very blessed to get to minister to some of the poorest in Childress. Like a young family that doesn’t live far from the church. The house they live in isn’t much better than some of the houses I’ve seen in Honduras. On several occasions this little family of four have walked over to the church to ask for groceries … which we see that they get. They have two little girls, age 3 and 5, that are as as cute as they come … but as shy as I’ve ever seen. Due to some bad decisions in his past, the dad struggles to find work. The young mom works when she can, but for the most part they scrape by with food stamps, doing odd jobs for people and a little help from others.
You know as well as I do, that it’s not unusual for the money to run out before the month does. This morning the mom sent me a message asking if I knew of any work someone might need because they had run out of milk for their girls a few days ago.
On my way to work this morning I stopped by the convenient store and picked up a gallon of milk (which was on sale by the way) to take to their house. When I got to their house I got an unexpected treat. Those two little “shy” girls ran up to me screaming at the top of their lungs, “TREY, TREY, TREY!” and threw their little arms around my neck and squeezed.
Just that a few months ago those two little girls were so shy they wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. Now they were screaming my name and hugging my neck. Talk about making my day.”