“Let me help you, Megan.”
My final week in China last month was a whirlwind. Between packing, teaching final classes, and having dozens of goodbye coffee dates, I felt overwhelmed by all I had to do in such little time. So when my friend Alice proposed a way for her to help me ship some boxes to next year’s city, it seemed a no-brainer. “I’m a local, I speak the language, I have a car, and I have a basement for storage. Let me do this for you, Megan. I want to help.”
Her plan immediately made far more sense than any idea I had conjured up to that point – and yet my first instinct was to decline her offer, kindly thanking her and insisting that I could figure things out on my own.
I eventually caved into her incredibly generous and helpful plan, but even today I can’t help thinking, “Wait, seriously? Why did I ever say no? On what planet does it make sense to refuse help that I so clearly need?” I thought I was being polite and independent, but really, I was just being stubborn, falling into that all too familiar, prideful thought: Why bother someone to ask for help when it will be easier and faster to do it myself?
The problem with this attitude is that, ultimately, it isn’t easier to do something by oneself. Sure, it’s generally good to be independent and self-sufficient. (#Adulting.) Sometimes we really can do a task on our own, or we genuinely do not want to bother someone who already has enough on his or her own plate. But in constantly refusing help in the truly difficult situations – those times when a brother or sister is happy to shine some Christ-like mercy and compassion onto us – we are encouraging our sinful pride to dominate our humility.
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
By saying no to kindness again and again, we are solidifying the sinful belief in our hearts that we can do this life on our own, that we need neither friend nor Father to be good, successful people. And that just isn’t true.
Knowing God’s amazing grace creates in us a fire and a desire to know how to share His light with others. While we personally cannot offer salvation, we can introduce the love of Jesus to all we meet, simply by showing his manner to them.
All of this reminds us of another vital truth: just as important as it is to show grace and love to others is it to receive this grace and love. Many Biblical accounts tell us that everyday people grew in faith after receiving miracles from Jesus during his time on this earth. So may we, too, grow in faith as we receive Christ-given love and grace from our brothers and sisters.
I was reminded of this again and again while doing His work in China last year. As a teacher of His word, I was constantly pouring out heart and soul into conversations and studies. It has been an incredible privilege and joy to share His light with brothers and sisters across the world, but there were definitely times when I felt spiritually tired. I was doing my best to “go and make,” but on such a small team, there was hardly any one to “go and make” me.
If it ever feels like your spiritual flame is flickering in the wind, you cannot only rely on yourself to keep it lit. One can only fan her own flame so long before wearing herself out! When your flame is sputtering and your light feels like it’s losing its shine, that’s just another opportunity to pray to the Father for the gifts of grace, patience, and perseverance. These may come in the form of renewed internal strength, but they can also come in the form of encouragement and support from a friend. Remember, even Jesus felt the human pains of hunger and weariness, and even he accepted the hospitality of people he met in his travels. When we help our neighbors and humble ourselves to receive their help, we are bringing the manner of Christ ever more into this world, sharing God’s grace and building each other up in faith, just as the Son did during his time on this earth.
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-40
As the Holy Spirit gives us faith, so does it plant in us the desire to share our faith with others. God works through all of us to faithfully shine his light in the world, helping to illuminate the path of His love and righteousness to Heaven.
When I was worrying about Chinese shipping logistics last month, Alice did not keep her fire in the matchbox. She added her flame to mine, and together we shined for Him brighter than ever. As Christian servants, we are meant to share the love and hope of Christ with all we meet. Let us share and receive them abundantly, as God shares them with us.