Be Ready to Step In for Others

Too much pride is an evil thing. Yesterday, I encountered a gentleman who came with his neighbor to a free food box distribution but refused to take any, even though his family needed it. This saddened me, but there was little I could do to convince him to change his mind.

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. – Philemon v. 17-20, ESV

The neighbor, who wasn’t too prideful to accept some help, wasn’t deterred. After he received his own food, he drove it back to the house and promptly got his friend’s wife and brought her down. You could tell she was obviously grateful for the assistance. In talking with the neighbor I learned that his reasoning was simple, “They’ve got nothing in their fridge.”

Here was a gentleman who didn’t have much. He is out of work and is hurting like many of the people in his community. However, what he did have was a willingness to step in and help a neighbor, even finding a way to overcome his friend’s pride in order to help the friend and his family. His example is a humbling reminder of how we are to be towards others. Even if we don’t have much ourselves, we should be willing to step in and help when we can.

This was the situation Paul found himself in. He didn’t ask Onesimus to steal from Philemon or to run away, but that’s what happened. Paul knew Philemon likely suffered some damage because of Onesimus’ actions and Onesimus was equally unlikely to be able to recompense Philemon. Truth be told, Paul was probably equally unlikely, too, on his own. Yet notice that Paul stepped in for Onesimus, asking it to be put on him. Paul even went so far as to write in his own handwriting, rather than let the person writing the letter as Paul dictated it put the words down. Paul wanted there to be no misunderstanding: he was stepping in for Onesimus.

What an attitude! How could Paul make such a promise when he was probably hurting for money? Paul couldn’t. But Paul depending on the Lord Jesus Christ could. Paul knew he was doing the right thing. And because he knew he was doing what was right, he was depending on God to come through to fulfill that promise. So Paul made it.

We are surrounded by folks who need our help. They just need a hand. Usually it is something small and they are able to get going again. We may be hurting ourselves, but that’s not a reason to avoid stepping in. Like the gentleman I met yesterday, we should try to find a way to help, not the opposite. That is what God expects of us. That is the example shown consistently throughout Scripture like with Elijah and the widow, or Peter telling a lame beggar to walk and allowing the Holy Spirit to heal the man. God will step up, if we step in. He did so with a few fish and some loaves not once but twice. He did so when Paul was raising money for the believers back in Jerusalem. The Lord steps up when we step in as an act of faithfulness and love, demonstrating His own amazing faithfulness and love through us. He is just waiting on us most of the time. So what’s stopping us?

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