I think many people are just helpful people. The kind that go out of their way to help a stranger or to show up for a loved one in a great time of need. The problem with being a helper is that sometimes people just constantly need help. Or at least they believe they do.
So what is help? When does it stop being help and start being a way in which you are taken advantage?
The other day I started flipping through the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend and I am loving it! Funny, it is teaching me some revolutionary ways to look at things that are so basic and then use Scripture to show that it is biblical. So far, I am reading things that make me think, “Wait! What?!?! How come I didn’t know that??? (Or had applied it like this???)”
For instance, they talk about Galatians 6:2 versus 6:5, (And of course, I encourage you to read the whole passage in context.)
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 ESV)
For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:5 ESV)
So which is it? Am I supposed to bear one another’s burdens or my own?
Well, both! But in a way that I found so very freeing! The authors in the Boundaries book explain how “burdens” are excessive burdens while a load is simply the day to day toil of life.
John MacArthur said it like this in his Bible Commentary, “(Gal. 6: 2) Burdens are extra heavy loads, which here represent difficulties or problems people have trouble dealing with. Bear connotes carrying something with endurance.” and “(Gal.6:5) This is not a contradiction to verse 2. Load has no connotation of difficulty; it refers to life’s routine obligations and each believer’s ministry calling. (See Matt 11:30, I Cor 3:12-15, 2 Cor 5:10) God requires faithfulness in meeting these responsibilities.”
Is this rocking anyone else’s world or am I the only one??? Immediately, I felt less guilty after reading this. I don’t have to feel guilty over all those little things that were made out to be my responsibility but aren’t! Daily life stuff that isn’t my own daily life stuff is NOT MY JOB. Cue the heavenly music! 😉 This applies to my parenting also, my four year old is going through that stage where she is perfectly capable of finding her own clothes and shoes but she wants me to do it and I feel guilty for telling her that she is a big girl and can go find her own shoes. Well, no more (I hope! Ha!) She IS a big girl and CAN go find her own stuff. Her own day to day life routine and obligations.
I have to be honest, right now, I’m hearing William Wallace yell “FREEDOM!!!!!”
Aaaah. I love freedom.
But I wondered…is it really that simple? Is this really a biblical principle? So I looked up “Help” in the Bible and while I didn’t go super in depth of every verse and it’s context, I noticed some commanalities.
Like this word:
997 boēthéō(from 995 /boḗ, “intense exclamation” and theō, “run”) – properly, to run and meet an urgent distress-call (cry for help); to deliver help, quickly responding to an urgent need (intense distress).
997 /boēthéō (“supply urgently needed help”) means to give immediate aid, in time, for a great need – i.e. “to run, on a call to help” (TDNT, 1:628).
[997 (boēthéō) was originally a military word, responding to a critical, urgent need (MM). 997 (boēthéō) is also used in Homeric Greek (800-900 bc) for responding to a war-cry.]
This is used eight times in the New Testament: when sick people asked Jesus for help and healing, when Paul had the vision of the Macedonian believers asking him to come help them by sharing the gospel, when the Jews in the temple called out for help in killing Paul, when in Revelation 12 it talks about the earth coming to the woman’s defense and swallowing the dragon, this verse,
For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2)
and this one,
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18.)
Crazy cool, right? This help is not about running errands for someone else, this is a rescue!
I found the word, 482 antilambánomai (from 473 /antí, “corresponding to” and 2983/lambánō, “to take hold of with initiative“) – properly, aggressively take hold of in a proportional (fitting) way, i.e. that “matches” (offsets, corresponds to) the need of the situation (note the prefix, anti). This refers to providing (receiving) support that directly corresponds to the real need.
Examples of this are Acts 20:35 where Paul tells the church to help financially those who are “weak.”
Mary speaks of God’s help toward Israel in her “Magnificat” where she quotes portions of the Old Testament in Luke 1.
And it is found in 1 Tim 6:2 where it is talking about Christian masters treating their servants well since the servants benefit (or help) them.
Again…this is not helping people with daily obligations.
There are 15 occurences of the word Opheleo:
to help, benefit, do good
In pretty much all of these verses, the word is translated into a form of “profit.” As in, “What shall a man profit if he gains the whole world yet loses his own soul?”
Oooh, one I thought was cool was the word boetheia
Short Definition: assistance, a help
Definition: (a) abstr: assistance, (b) concr: (a technical term of nautical language), a help.
Used only twice, the first time is where Paul is in the process of being shipwrecked
Acts 27: 16,17, Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.
and then (!!!!)
Hebrews 4:16, Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I. LOVE. IT.
Now going through the Old Testament, we find the word Ezrah/Ezrath
help, helper, assistance
As you can imagine, many of these uses are found in the Psalms crying out for the Lord to help or praising Him for being our “Very present help in trouble.” The other majority of uses are found in Isaiah, speaking of the Lord’s help and deliverance.
In Psalm 22:19, The Lord is personified as help with the word eyaluth: my help. “But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!”
So anyway, I think you get the picture. There are real, valid, times to help people! I’m not trying to get away from my responsibility of helping those God places in our life near or far! But it is important that we recognize who it is in our lives that actually need help so we may give our resources to those needs. And I’m also not saying that helping someone with their day-to-day obligations is a bad thing. I will never forget the times my friend Dawn came over to spend time with me and wash my dishes while I held her baby. And helping someone to lighten their daily load is not a bad thing. It becomes bad when someone expects you to handle their day to day problems that they are able to deal with but just don’t want to. Or they expect you to help them to your own detriment. That is not help!
Again….so much freedom!
On the other hand however, it was good for me to consider if I do this in my own life? Now that my health is better, I should get up and handle more things myself than having my kids or Chase do it for me. I say all the time to people in arguments in my head, “You are an adult! Get your crap together!!!” But I need to remember to apply that to my life also. Put on my big-girl panties and deal with it. 😉
And if I can’t handle my day to day life obligations, what boundaries do I need to establish in my life so I CAN handle them? Do I need better time management? To stop saying “yes” to things without prayer and consulting Captain Awesome? To cut out good things that aren’t the best things? Probably yes to all of them.
And then, I was able to apply this! I had an expectation every month to help someone and this help was *really* annoying me. It is a dumb little thing but was causing me all kinds of stress because I couldn’t forget or else and I was SO frustrated because there was NO GOOD REASON why this person couldn’t handle it themselves, they just didn’t want to. So I prayed about how to get rid of this load that wasn’t mine and eventually gave this person all the information they needed to take care of it themselves in time for this month. And yeah, I expected some repercussions and they came, but it is OKAY because I am FREE. And if they can’t handle it themselves it must not have been very important to them in which case I shouldn’t have to worry about it. 🙂 FREEDOM!!!
So there we go! Bearing burdens versus bearing loads. I was talking to Chase about this and he was like, “Ummmm…yeah.” Like he didn’t say “Duh” but he may as well have. LOL! But for me, this was revolutionary to apply it like this! The next time I’m expected to just drop everything and help, I’m planning on asking myself if this is a burden or a load…and will see what happens.
What about you??? Has this helped clear anything up for you? Is it as revolutionary for you as it was for me or are you all “Duh” like Chase? 😉 Tell me, tell me! 🙂Gina