God helps those…


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 51; 148, Isaiah 61:1-9, 2 Timothy 3:1-17, Mark 10:32-45

“God helps those who help themselves.”

Many people throw this proverb around like a Bible verse. It was popularized by Ben Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack, but versions of it have been around for centuries. Its sentiment – that we should be self-sufficient where we can – is innocent enough, but it has also been corrupted to rebuff those who ask for help. Does it ever seem like we put more effort into making excuses why we shouldn’t help people, than for finding reasons why we should?

Some people learn to be so self-conscious about asking for help, that they won’t even ask others to pray for them. And like the disciples who grew angry when James and John had the nerve to ask Jesus whether they could sit on either side of him in glory, they aren’t comfortable with other people asking either. Jesus reminded the disciples yet again that those who would be great must become servants to all, but he didn’t fault James and John for asking. Servants don’t just do, they depend – on each other and on those they serve. Asking for needed help is no weakness, and we shouldn’t resent it in ourselves or others.  Often when, out of pride or shame, we “don’t want to be a bother” we end up causing more work, inconvenience, and/or injury than if we’d asked for help in the first place.

On the other hand, Jesus didn’t simply hand James and John everything they asked for. He told them they didn’t know what they were asking; could they follow in his steps and suffer his fate? When they said yes, he told them they would but what they asked was not in his power to grant. When we ask for something, we shouldn’t get upset if someone then in good faith questions whether we’ve already done what we can and should. An invitation to further conversation is not a rejection.

Whether we’re doing the asking or being asked, we are called to the same attitude of humble service. The least we can do … is the least we can do.

Comfort: You are allowed to ask for help.

Challenge: When you need it, ask for help.

Prayer: Source of mercy and grace, give me the heart of a servant. Amen.

Discussion: Have you ever been that person who won’t ask for help, then needs twice as much help later? If so, did you learn anything from it?

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