Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 December 9, 2012.
1) Things happen in real life: Is it possible to be too helpful? Can our helpfulness actually make life more difficult for those we try to help? The answer is ¡°yes¡± if we are being bothersome, smothering, manipulative or controlling. If the help we offer is driven by our own anxiety, selfish purpose or hidden agenda, we may be just trying to help ourselves.
2) Things we do as Christians: How do we know if our acts of service are truly symbolic of God¡¯s unconditional love? How can we help people from pure motives? Our efforts to help others will never be completely free from anxiety, especially those we love the most. But we can, by the grace of God, begin to love freely with no strings attached, as God loves us. The test of our intention is the way we react when our ¡°helpfulness¡± is unrecognized or goes unrewarded. (Luke 14:12-14)
YOUR HELP IS TOO MUCH:
1) When it is unwanted: I understand that sometimes people are just too shy to ask for help and our volunteering help is more than welcome. But I am talking about when people don¡¯t need or don¡¯t want our help and we insist on bothering them and their plans that is ¡°too much.¡± When people don¡¯t want our help and we insist on ¡°helping¡± them, we can only mess up their plan and the relationship with them---we become intruders instead of helpers. You can offer, but cannot push.
2) When it is bothersome: When we try to help people but we make things more difficult, complicated for them or when we interfere their own plans or jeopardize their ability to solve their problems then we are not helping them, we are bothering them. This is true more often when we think we can do better for them than they can do it themselves. We didn¡¯t allow them to use their own resources and wisdom to build their lives.
3) When it is smothering: Smothering means suffocating. When we try to help people but in the process, we apply too much pressure on them, leave them paralyzed without their own ideas or ability, we render them almost useless. This happens often to children from dominating parents. If we do everything for them, they will never learn. We may suffocate their imagination, interest of life and the ability to develop their own strength and skill to face life on their own.
4) When it is manipulative: Some people extend help to other for their own purpose; manipulate them to fulfill their own interest. This is seen clearly on commercial advertisement: they offer to help you look prettier, live better life, drive a new car or feel better by buying their products. They manipulate your emotion for one purpose: Make money from you. Sometimes people offer help to others with same purpose: manipulate you for their own personal gain.
EXTEND HELP IN PROPER WAYS: (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) There are 14 ways to demonstrate love in the form of helping others from these 6 verses of the Bible. You may choose and pick what you think are the best or most important in helping people.
1) Extend help with patience: ¡°Love is patient.¡± (13:4)In most cases, people who need help from others are in less capable condition to help themselves. So, when you think you are more capable to help them need to be patient with them and their less capability. In doing so, you don¡¯t just jump in and take over everything and do all for them, but work alongside with them, show them, not just to get things done but to help them become more capable so they can help themselves next time.
2) Extend help with humility: ¡°Love does not boast.¡± (13:4b) It is not easy to help the less capable and not feeling superior, proud or puffed up because we are better and stronger then them. But that is exactly what we need to do when we help the less able. Pride itself will destroy the value of helping others. If we come in with pride, people will know, and our energy, time and effort will render no value or produce antagonism against the helper. Being humble is about our attitude when we help others.
3) Extend help with respect: ¡°Love is not rude.¡± (13:5)This is in close relation with pride. Being rude is showing disrespect to the one we help. Opposite of being rude is being kind, v. 4. Being kind includes being understanding: No one is all capable in everything. The one who needs your help in one thing may be better in something else in which you may need his help later. We need to show respect to the one we are helping.
4) Extend help with pure intent: ¡°Love is not self-seeking.¡± (13:5) This is the most important of all: helping others with no agenda. Too often when we help someone, we have expectation of some personal intent: From recognition, appreciation, reward or other kinds of expression from that person or others. All these are not wrong if they are given to us on their own and not from our intent to have. Our intent can be measured in our reaction when our good deed of help is not recognized, noticed and rewarded.
WE CAN DO HELPING THE RIGHT WAY:
1) Learn from the best model: Talking about helping the helpless, no one is better than God. From teaching on helping the poor and the vulnerable to actual helping, God did to those who come to seek help from him, God never withhold his hands. God is the most resourceful and generous helper in all history. If we want to learn from a great model as helpers, look to God.
2) Teachings in the Bible: No one may count all the teachings in the Bible about the importance of helping others, particularly the needy and the unprotected. God had issued commands to us to help the poor, the needy and the vulnerable among us. He also wants us to help people in our family, our church and our community. To withhold our hands and not to help others when it is within our ability is a direct violation of God¡¯s command.
3) Helping is opportunity: When God places some needy people in the path of your life, it is your opportunity to do something for him. The best example is the story of the Good Samaritan spoken by Jesus himself. God is good in matching the needy with the able so the needs of help will be met perfectly right. Don¡¯t let the opportunity slip through your fingers.
4) Helping is a blessing: If you are able to help someone in some way, it means you are capable, have the resources, the skill and in good position to do so and that is a blessing. God promises his blessing as reward to those who will help others: ¡°Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with measure you use, it will be measure to you.¡± (Luke 6:38) Don¡¯t think you are in losing business in helping others when you spend money, time, energy and efforts to help them. God will pour his blessings on you way beyond your wildest imagination as his reward of your generosity.
1) This is only a story: One of the mottoes of the Boy Scout is: Help someone everyday. One morning, 4 scouts reported to their commander they had helped an old lady crossing a street the day before and the commander was happy to hear that. But a little later, he felt funny why had the 4 buddies done the same thing. Upon his inquiry to the facts, the 4 boys confessed: ¡°Because the old lady didn¡¯t want to cross the street, it took 4 of us to carry her over.¡± Next time when you are trying to help someone, be mindful how you do it.
2) Don¡¯t miss the blessing: Being able to help someone some-thing is a blessing on our part. Sharing what God has given us for the good of others besides your own is fulfilling God¡¯s purpose of his endowment on us. We want to be a faucet of running water from God to others better than a pond storing filthy stationery water that never provides anything for any-one. God promises to multiply his blessings on those who are generous in giving to others, time, resource and love. You will see how God will bless you and yours as a result of your generous helping hands.