“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So, when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)
Are you a thief? No? Okay, but … are you sure?
I'm not here to judge, but don't think for a second that if I saw you snag a Snickers bar at the convenience store, or I knew for a fact that you were cheating on your taxes, that I wouldn't say something to you about it! Now, I'm not a snitch, and I'm not going to “anonymously” tattle on you to anyone about your transgressions. Let's be real, I don't have to anyway, because the God of the universe(s) knows everything you do anyway, right? But that's not the kind of thief I'm asking if you are. I'm asking if you're robbing others of their blessings. Are you the kind of person who doesn't ask for help? Or worse, will you tell someone who offers to help you “no” because you're too proud to admit that it would go much easier and smoother for you if you accepted? Maybe you think that when life gives you lemons, it's your responsibility to suck-it-up and eat them, rind and all, no matter how bad it tastes because you deserve to be punished for … whatever it is that you did at the convenience store when you were 12.
But like I said, we're not talking about that.
Believe me, I can relate to all of these scenarios and many more. My father was a hard man. He was a French-Irish Catholic who stood 5'6”, lived through The Great Depression, served in the south Pacific with the Coast Guard during WWII, and provided for his family of 6 on his single income until the youngest of us … me … graduated from high school (and beyond) and started his own life, career, and family. My dad believed that men were men! They did for themselves! They didn't ask for help! They took care of themselves and those around them through sheer force-of-will. There was no apologizing, no groveling, no admission of weakness, and absolutely, positively no asking for help under any circumstances.
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17 (NIV)
Have you ever walked out to your car and found that you had a flat tire, or that you'd run out of gas, or that your battery was dead? Well, if you haven't yet, you probably will someday. So, how did (or would) you handle one of these situations? Would you call AAA, or some other roadside assistance outfit … assuming that you subscribe to such a service … and praise God for them? Would you wait until there was no one around to help and effect whatever fix was applicable yourself, regardless of how long it took or how many knuckles you busted in the effort? Or would you give someone the opportunity to help you with your difficulties (and these are not limited to vehicles)? Would the thought even cross your mind that helping you might be something that someone, even a stranger, might enjoy doing? Would it matter to you that someone might even get a blessing from God for the little bit of effort that it took to take a few minutes to help one of His children?
Would you even consider the fact that you were robbing someone of said blessing by not asking for their help?
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26 (NIV)
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)
Now, I would find it extremely difficult to believe that you know of no one who is “worthy” enough for you to ask for their help, because there's that whole “judging” thing that you'd be guilty of if you did that.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)
So, are you a thief? Are you the kind of person who would deny someone else of an opportunity to gain God's blessing by doing something for you that, heck, might even benefit you in some small way?
Now, here's where my message may get a little tough for some of you to swallow. I'm about to offend some of you by invoking the “H” word. Here goes …
H is for humility. Here's the definition:
-a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness: "he needs the humility to accept that their way may be better"
Sometimes it takes wisdom for people, us included, to ask for help. Sometimes it's necessary for us to swallow our pride and admit that we were never meant to do this thing, life, all by our lonesome. Sometimes God is just waiting for us to curl up in His lap and admit the fact that we simply can't do everything on our own … and that we were never meant to in the first place.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
This is the place! Now is the time! The battle is on!