“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Monday, April 09, 2007

Helping those who can't repay you

Luke 14:14 "Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the
resurrection of the righteous."

When I am speaking to groups, I often ask the question, "When was the last time you did something for someone who was unable to pay you back?" I also always give the caviat that I am not talking about your elderly parents (whom you are paying back) or your infant children (who will hopefully pay you back). I am talking about strangers or strangers who have become friends over time. People with whom you would typically think you have no particular reason to develop a relationship...no reason other than Jesus' words in Luke 14 and elsewhere that your life as a person will be evaluated at leasted partially on what you did for those people. Well I guess I do have a reason if I am going to be evaluted on that basis. In fact that is probably the major basis for the evaluation of my deeds in life. In Matthew 24 the difference between people will be as obvious as the difference between sheep and goats, at least obvious to the Lord. If you look at the response of the sheep (the good guys, although I personally do have an affection for real goats, not the scriptural illustrative type) they appear to be somewhat oblivious to the fact that the people to whom they were showing kindness, ostensibly without repayment, were in fact Jesus in many different forms.

It is interesting that earlier in the Luke 14 passage, it even cautions you that the people you help might repay you or may be able to repay you and so you will be repaid. It is almost as if you should avoid helping those who can repay you (not really, but there is a priority on the nonrepayers). Wow, so we as Christians should be seeking those people out. I should be thinking, "Sweet! I got to help someone who has little ability to help me back!" It sure gives you a different perspective on helping.

I was talking one of the pastors at my church the other day, a really great guy. I think in the course of our discussion we both concluded that within the group of people with whom he works, it is not necessarily the superstars that he has helped who are the "jewels in his crown" so to speak. They were probably in pretty good shape anyway, on the fast track to successful lives. But rather it is the autistic man or the cognitively disabled woman that he has helped who are his glory, his claim to fame. He can proudly state, "I helped a man with mental retardation be a loved and respected member of a group of Christian peers. I helped an autistic woman feel like she had a place where people wanted to be with her, where she was accepted."

But I guess in the cosmic, kinda spiritual world of things, those people give us the greatest of all gifts. They allow us to please our Lord through our actions. But hear me clearly. The opportunity for service to another human being is what I am talking about. The Christian life is not about earning credits toward my salvation (which I already have through faith in Christ). It is not about pity or charity or whatever. It is about being like God in showing mercy and facilitating justice in the lives of the powerless. The ultimate result of being with devalued people is that I see myself for who I am. In a Micah 6:8 way, I learn to walk humbly with God and with my fellow human beings.



Anonymous said...

That's one reason to provide help anonymously--they can't pay you back if they don't know who you are.

The Editor in Chief said...

Good point. That is true, however, I was particularly making the point that we should help those who are unable to help back because of their life situation, not because of our cleverness in helping.

Just Me said...

Helping others, in essence is helping ourselves. Because if I do not help those in need, I feel that I have let myself down, and my brother/sister is now going to do with-out and for me that is unacceptable. If I was blessed with it, it is not mine; it is for me to pass on to those who need it more then I do. And whether it be money, goods, time or what ever, it is never that hard to make a difference in the life of someone else.