Help each other, but do it yourself

I’m great at making lists and plans and schedules. What I’m not so good at is sticking to them. Do I have any brothers and sisters out there? It’s not difficult for you to see everything that needs to be done, and you don’t even have to fight to get them into a somewhat-reasonable schedule. But when the day comes to actually follow the schedule, other priorities have popped up. People ask you to do things you didn’t plan for. Life happens.

And you have to adjust your schedule accordingly. But then you’re faced with a dilemma, because the new things you’ve added into your schedule prevent you from having enough time to do what you planned originally. So you push everything back. And then by the end of the week, it snowballs, and you’re completely buried.

I struggle with this so much because I have a hard time accepting that my plans and my goals are more important than the plans and goals of other people. And that’s where it gets tricky, because you can’t very well put yourself first and still follow Jesus, can you?

0D9BF61E08Today’s verses are Galatians 6:2-5.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. 

On first glance, this passage almost contradicts itself, doesn’t it? One one hand, we are to share each other’s burdens, but we’re supposed to be responsible for our own conduct too. Can those two statements exist in the same sentence? Help each other, but do it yourself?

Every Christ-follower has something to do that God has designed them for. It’s a unique and individual task assigned to every believer. And you should never ever undervalue that fact. What God has called you to do matters, and you shouldn’t set that calling aside lightly.

But, sometimes life does happen. Sometimes the people in your life need your help, your support, your love, and when that happens, you have to be willing to do what’s needed. Because you’re called to help your brothers and sisters in Christ just as much as you’re called to fulfill God’s destiny for your life.

But there’s a difference between helping a brother or sister who needs you and constantly putting out fires. Helping someone with a burden isn’t the same as doing your own work, and if all you’re doing is carrying other people’s burdens for them, you’re going to wear yourself out, you won’t accomplish what God has called you to do, and you’ll prevent your friend from learning a lesson God needs to teach him.

So what does this paradoxical approach to scheduling your life even look like? Beats me. It’ll be different for each person.

Once you figure out what God wants you to do (and that’s a whole different blog post in itself), you need to do it. You need to get your life to the place where you can do what God tells you to do without delay or excuse. Then, you have to DO it. That’s another step. It’s one step to find it. It’s another step to plan it. It’s a huge step to take action, but you must. Don’t just sit there. Do it.

My problem is that I don’t see my calling as equally important to someone else’s. I know I’m called to do something important, but if someone else comes along and needs help, I put more value on their calling than on mine. And that’s not necessarily wrong. I mean, who knows, maybe your calling is to help others achieve their callings. Anything’s possible, and the Body of Christ has many parts.

But if you know for sure what you’re supposed to be doing for God, don’t let anyone else tell you it doesn’t matter. That means if it’s important enough to put on your schedule, it’s important enough for you to do it, and it’s important enough for you to turn down other projects for it.

Don’t be hard-hearted about it, of course. And if life happens (as it so often does), stop to help. But ask God about it first. Ask God’s permission to step away from your calling in order to do something else.

Maybe you don’t know what your calling is, and that’s fine. Don’t give up until you find it. Ask God to reveal it, because you have one. Everybody does. Sometimes it’s a dream. Sometimes it’s a goal. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like a calling. But you’ve got one.

What you are doing for God matters. Period. And, yes, it’s important to help other people. Yes, it’s important to encourage your brothers and sisters. But don’t treat your calling as dispensable. God designed you for a purpose. There’s nothing insignificant about that.

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Self-imposed blindness

God has a plan. Did you realize that? I mean, I think everyone realizes it, but it’s one thing to realize it and it’s something else to live like it.

God can see everything. Time has no meaning to Him; He created time. Distance or separation has no meaning to Him because He is everywhere. There’s nothing He doesn’t know. And there’s nothing He can’t do. So with that kind of a Person, Someone with that kind of intel, at our disposal, don’t you think it’s a good idea to listen to what He has to say?

Posts on Jamaica Beach at sunrise - Galveston, TX

Posts on Jamaica Beach at sunrise – Galveston, TX

Today’s verse is Proverbs 29:18.

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.
    But whoever obeys the law is joyful.

I love Proverbs. They’re always so blunt and straightforward. And this is very true. When people try to live life without listening to what God has said, their lives spin out of control. Maybe not a first, but it’s inevitable.

I get curious, though, when I think I understand all that a verse is saying the first time I read through it, so I always end up checking the verse in other translations too. So this is the same verse in the Amplified Version:

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.

I thought this was interesting. The New Living Translation indicates that when people reject God’s Word, they will have no stability. But the Amplified Version is a little harsher. According to the Amplified Version, when people don’t have Scripture (that’s what the “redemptive revelation of God” refers to), they will die. It’s a similar concept, but it’s just enough different that I thought it merited a jump over to the Message.

The Message is my favorite paraphrase, mainly because it usually is able to communicate the meaning and context of the original language in a modern way. So this is the same verse in the Message:

If people can’t see what God is doing,
   they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
   they are most blessed.

When people don’t accept divine guidance — Where there is no vision — If people can’t see what God is doing. Rejection. Ignorance. Blindness. Maybe it’s phrased in three different ways, but really the core of this verse comes down to one thought:

Without God, we’re lost. Without God, we have no direction, we have no purpose, we have no life.

That’s a simple concept, one that every believer accepts without question superficially. But do we really believe it? Because if we really believed it, our lives would look different, our families would look different, our country would look different.

Believers aren’t immune from rejecting God’s direction. As much as I hate to admit it, I do it all the time. God tells me to love people more than I love myself, and sometimes I’m better at it than others. But more often, I end up acting selfishly.

And I think most of the time we’re content to exist in ignorance of God’s will. We’ve convinced ourselves that God’s will is too difficult to find or that if we are able to find it, He will ask something of us that we’re unwilling to give. So we don’t even try.

And if you reject direction and live in ignorance, the only way you can be described is blind. And blind people can’t see where they’re going. It’s the same with families. It’s the same with churches. And it’s the same with countries.

Without God, we’re lost.

God has given us direction in Scripture, and if we believe in Him, we have a responsibility to do what He says, to live the way He has instructed, to be the kind of people He tells us we ought to be.

If we reject that direction, if we ignore that truth and live in self-imposed blindness to God’s plan, we will flail about with no stability and no purpose. And after living for an extended period of time with no purpose, you will lose hope.

So if you know Scripture, don’t ignore it. If you don’t know Scripture, start reading and do what it says. The Bible is God’s Word to us, to tell us how to live, to show us what He expects from us. Scripture tells us our purpose: to live for God.

And once you understand that you really do have a purpose, that you really can follow God’s directions, something pretty awesome happens. You find joy. And joy is better than any perceived freedom you think you’ve gained by flipping God off.