It was a beautiful summer day, and a friend and I were standing on her driveway, talking. Her family was the topic, and she was asking if Lauren and I could visit an ill family member, to talk, play, and pass the time. I told her I would have to think about this, my brain scanning through the mental schedule I keep on file at all times, looking for a spare afternoon or morning.
“Well, and of course, we would pay you,” she added.
I was shocked, and then instantly protested, but she protested back, and the conversation ended futilely. Ultimately, she won the question of payment, though, and I found myself visiting this person regularly, looking at pictures, playing games, singing songs, and telling stories. And then receiving money. Being paid for something I would have loved to do gratis, as they say in Latin (if they really do say anything in Latin these days).
This is a barrier I have encountered many times. People think that my time is too valuable to be given unpaid, or that they are devaluing my services by not compensating, or that they can only prove their gratitude monetarily. It’s enough to inspire me to hide behind a curtain in all that I do. “Pay no attention to the man [woman] behind the curtain!” I could loudly proclaim via an electronic apparatus.
These earthly rewards—these dollars and cents and banking accounts—they are transitory. They do me no good in the eternal scheme of things. It is the heavenly riches and the eternal rewards that are best. Matthew 16:27 says,
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, andthen He will reward each according to his works.”
I am apt to feel as though my friends and family are cheating me of something so much more valuable when they insist on paying me. Indeed, it is almost as if they are devaluing my services.
I would much rather hear the words of Ruth 2:12 than receive payment:
“The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God ofIsrael, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
Does this mean I never charge for babysitting, music teaching, performances, or what-have-you? Of course not! But God presents people to whom I am commanded to minister for His glory and not my own. These people I desire to minister to without payment, without recompense, without reward. It is really not such a selfless desire, for I have God as my exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1), and I have glorifying Him as my goal.
Some people cannot bring themselves to accept help without offering something in return. As I contemplate this, and wish with all my heart that they would just allow me to help, I think about all those times as a pudgy toddler when I announced, “I can do it by mys-ef!” Or as a teenager when I struggled through math problems knowing full well that Papa could explain the mystery in 5 minutes. And how about now, when I don’t lean on a friend with a problem, or go to my parents for accountability, or ask my siblings to cover a chore for me. When I allow someone to help me, knowing that I am incapable of returning the favor, the scale has suddenly tilted, and I am indebted to another person.
What an uncomfortable feeling! The knowledge that someone has come to my aid in a way I could never have done leaves me feeling helpless and humbled. And it reminds me of my own salvation on a much smaller degree, when I placed myself irretrievably and enormously in God's debt.
This pride that keeps people from accepting help is a tragic thing. Can you imagine all the blessings we are cheating from others by not leaning on them? Can you imagine all the evidences of God’s sovereignty we are hiding by keeping our needs bottled up inside? Can you fathom all the opportunities for good that could have come if you had answered the “how-are-you” question honestly for once? Can you conceive of the treasure of being served and serving? This is the way the Church is supposed to work, after all.
"For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying ofthe body of Christ....from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by whatevery joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every partdoes its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love(Ephesians 4:12, 16)."
Brightening your corner is as much about opening the door to other cleaners as it is about wielding the feather duster yourself. Both are equally important. Let us swallow our pride and accept and offer help, for it is a beautiful thing to do both equally.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.