Helping, So It Doesn’t Hurt

The best way to help somebody is to relate to that person. Terri and I no longer give away the random dollar or quarters. We are trying to develop relationships with a few of our neighbors who live on the street; helping them when we can, in order to get to know them.

This turned messy this last week when I forgot our guiding principle. A lady, who does some work in a few yards in our neighborhood, came to our doorstep last week and offered to do something at our house. I told her there was nothing to do and handed her a $20 bill. The next week, I was gone and she came back offering to do some work in the yard. Terri explained we did not need any work: our lawn crew had just left. So, the woman asked, “Can you give me some money?” When Terri said she could not, she asked for me. We do not know this woman’s name, but it is time to get to know her and form a relationship.

Serving each other begins and ends in a relationship that takes time to learn from each other. These kinds of relationship can begin by offering relief; but it must move past a simple act of kindness. We are looking for ways to help these neighbors by seeing if what we do together can help them move from where they are, to where they may need to move. The highest idea is to be in a relationship with people that empowers a person to manage on their own the very thing which they needed help earlier.

These kinds of relationships require a humble spirit. Humility prevents relationships from becoming about ourselves. The temptation to parent a person for a prolonged period of time rather than partner can cause one to engage in what one person called “the commercialization of serving”. This involves a relationship that values order and efficiency over the messiness of personal involvement. Doing good can become an enemy of the best when it promotes dependency and denies a person their innate dignity. A humble spirit takes serious a person’s environment and background, and how who they are might contribute to the relationship. Humility fosters meaningful growth in all relationships.

These kinds of relationships require equal involvement. Every person must be involved in the exchange process as equal partners with equal responsibilities. We are to be in a relationship that allows us to intimately know each other so that care and respect are key ingredients. This means we will have to struggle in these relationships over time if we are going to be formed by God so we may work constructively together. Equal involvement means we will value the person even more so than the hope for development and empowerment.

Consider the greatest commandment in light of these thoughts. Matthew 22: 34-40

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

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Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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