“The best way to help others is for our love to be wedded to their dignity.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – February 24, 2021
In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-5
One of the best ways you can show love to others is to help those capable of helping themselves if only they knew how and understood the importance of doing so. This is how love can be wedded to dignity, and this is one of the ways we can, as we’re told in Philippians 2:4, look to the interests of others. Three of my longtime friends are great examples of this kind of love. They empower employees through helping them develop a strong personal work ethic. Pete, David, and Bob create work environments where dignity and productive work habits come together, and these environments give their employees a sense of pride and accomplishment by fostering responsibility and accountability, all within a context of respect and love.
Of course, some people can help themselves but choose to be lazy. Perhaps that’s why, in part, the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “We worked day and night, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:8-10).
Paul knew the secret to helping capable people in need was to give them a hand up, not just a handout. Of course, sometimes people need some financial help, but the long-term solution is not in creating a welfare dependence but in encouraging them toward the joy to be found in work and accomplishment. Paul showed the Thessalonians what a diligent and productive work ethic looked like. He sought responsible ways to help people by helping them grow more responsible. The dignity of work brings out the best in everyone and increases everyone’s opportunities for success.
Charity has a place, of course, and that’s often the first way our love can be shown: by helping people meet their immediate needs. But then we need to help them toward a more abundant life for themselves—physically, spiritually, and financially. Eternal rewards await those who make this a priority. So how can we start others on this path?
First, we should ask the Lord to break our hearts with the things that break His heart. That includes all the needs people have and all the hopelessness and despair that overwhelms them. Out of our own brokenness, then, we are best able to serve the brokenhearted.
Second, we need to get to know the people suffering and try to understand the circumstances that led to their lack. We need to become a true friend to them.
Third, we can help them assess their assets (gifts and talents, time, experience, and so on) and learn how they can leverage them to move forward.
Helping others help themselves demands vulnerability and availability. And it seeks to model those qualities and skills that lead to a successful life.
“I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you” (2 Corinthians 12:14-16).
Heavenly Father, show me how to help others without hurting them, through Christ’s love and in His name I pray, amen.
Who needs the help of my time, energy, love and relationships?
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