I’ve heard of “Drink Responsibly” but “Help Responsibly” is a new one on me

I am an enabler. I am never happier than when I can be in the background, helping someone accomplish something great from the sidelines. I think that may be one of the reasons I love stage managing so much.

Stage managing is my favorite part of theater. Directing is too much pressure. Acting is too visible. Stage managing, for me, is the happy medium where you can support both director and actors, making sure they all have what they need to do their job the best they possibly can.

I love to help people. And I know a lot of other people like that too. There’s something cathartic, I think, in serving other people. It gets your focus off yourself and reminds you how blessed you are. And, besides that, it’s just fun. And it’s even more fun if you can help people in a group. But there’s one thing that those of us who like to help people need to remember. And the Bible verse for today made me think of it.

Romans 15:2

2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.

 We need to make sure that we’re helping other people to do what is right.

For example, say someone asks me to help them write a research paper for a class. I love to do things like that. I love helping people tweak their papers, and most of the time I try to explain why I edit things the way I do so they will know how to edit better in the future. But when it comes time for me to help this person with their paper, they actually want me to write the whole paper for them. Well . . . I love to write . . . . and I love to help people . . . . and I’m pretty positive I could still right a rockin’ awesome research paper even though I’ve been out of high school for ten years now (yikes! really? wow!). But if I wrote the paper for this person, would that be the right thing?

No. It wouldn’t. Part of being in school is learning how to complete assignments on your own. If I wrote the entire paper for this person, they would never learn that lesson.

Here’s where the trouble comes for me.

I hate telling people no. I hate disappointing people. I hate letting people down. And, inevitably, that’s what happens when people ask me to do things like this for them. But as much as I want to help people, I have to remember that even though my intentions are the best, human nature still plays a part in this drama called life.

People are lazy. It’s just a fact of life. And everyone suffers from it. And if you get a person like me who likes to help other people, I will willingly sacrifice time and effort to help a lazy person succeed without ever having to struggle. Sometimes helping people do the right thing is telling them that I won’t help them do what they’ve asked me to do.

This is definitely something I need to work on because it’s something I truly struggle with. I have such a weakness for people who need help. And many times I think I have helped people get out of situations God was using to teach them something. And when I do that, I have put myself direction between that person who is being chastised and God, and that is not a place I want to be. Because at that point, I have taken it on myself to tell God He is being unfair. Wow. That is such a bad idea . . . . such a bad place to be . . .

So. How do you know when to help someone and when not to? Well . . . if someone is broken down on the side of road and needs help changing a tire in 110-degree weather . . . . stop and help them. But if someone needs help buying a book for school because they’ve spent all their money on clothes . . . don’t. Or if you know you’ve helped this person with the same thing previously and haven’t seen them accept responsibility for it, don’t help them.

Do you see the difference?

Helping people who want to help themselves is right. Helping people who want you to do all the work for them is a very bad idea.

Helping people is good. It’s not only good; it’s a commandment. And it’s fun. But we have to make sure we’re helping people do the right thing. Because if we are consciously enabling people to do wrong, to live a life that isn’t pleasing to God, we will be the ones responsible. Yes, the person who is actually making the choices will be responsible for his or her own actions. But aren’t we responsible for our choices too? And if we know we’re helping people do the wrong thing, don’t we bear some of the burden too?

“Good” Christians need God too

Are there any “good” Christians out there? Would you agree that when you’re a “good” Christian and you follow the rules generally and try your best to read your Bible every morning that sometimes it’s easy to forget that you don’t have it all together?

Maybe it’s just me, but I forget sometimes. That’s why I appreciate verses like Psalm 139:23-34.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

When we’re doing what we think is right or living the way we think we’re supposed to, it’s a good thing to ask God to search our hearts to make sure that what we’re seeking is what He really desires for us.

I don’t know about anyone else, but my heart is a scary thing. It doesn’t always know what it wants. It rarely makes a decision and usually just leads me in circles. And if it ever does make up its mind about something, it usually isn’t something that God would have me do.

I know I’ve been struggling with a lot of choices and decisions recently, and my heart would have me drop everything and do what I want to do. But I don’t think that’s what God wants.

So I need God to look at my life, to look at my heart, and I need Him to tell me what I should do. I think I already have an answer, but I don’t want it to be my answer. I need it to be His. I want Him to look at me and tell me what needs to change in my life.

I get so used to being a “good” Christian that sometimes I forget that I’m not perfect. I mean, it’s not that I forget it. I know I’m not perfect, but it’s easy to fall back on my own wisdom or even my own interpretation of Scripture as truth. And just because I interpret Scripture some way doesn’t make it truth. Doesn’t even make it right. I need God to show me what is right and how to live and how to make decisions. I need Him to show me the areas of my life that need to change or disappear because I’m blind to them.

I guess the bottom line this morning is that I need God. I need to learn to be humble about things like this. To ask Him to look into who I am and be willing to change what He tells me to change. Because if I can do that, He’ll take me down the path He wants me on. And whatever He wants out of my life isn’t good for me anyway.

I need Him more than anything else in my life. With Him, my life make sense. It has purpose. Even when everything feels like it’s falling apart, I know it really isn’t because I have Him.