“…regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the Lord your God.”
It’s not a coincidence that scripture matching my thoughts (specifically some of Deuteronomy 24’s various laws), came up today in “non-coincidence” as all scripture is good for teaching and will do it’s work before it returns to God. These verses are speaking of helping people but setting boundaries for yourself which will honor the other people and keep you in check. Keeping yourself in check also prevents you from feeling like you are getting burned, and reminds you to count your blessings and give from what God gave you. These thoughts are something I have been dealing with this week – and fitting for our season of giving and thanksgiving this time of year.
And so I found these thoughts and scriptures also not coincidental to the MASH episode I just watched, where BJ, the doctor, gets involved with a Korean family in need. Scripture is NEVER coincidental but always purposeful, a teaching moment for any of us who think we can help but may be borderline infringing.
Sure, enabling could be tops on my resume, and it’s true that not only should we draw the line sometimes, I am thinking about this scripture more on the angle of we should back off and let the person or people keep their dignity. Stay on the Porch. And we should help in the way that allows them to work things out for themselves.
Here is that scripture segment, Deuteronomy 24:10-13: When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into their house to get what is offered to you as a pledge. Stay outside and let the neighbor to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you. If the neighbor is poor, do not go to sleep with their pledge in your possession. Return their cloak by sunset so that your neighbor may sleep in it. Then they will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the Lord your God.
Perhaps we best let the Lord draw the line for us, and not be surprised when He is generous – or when He says hold back. We can be gentle travelers in this world, not overwhelming even if temporary house guests. We can help out but especially help in keeping dignity – so when a friend in need is ALSO needing to figure it out for themselves, we best not be the problem solvers, just the sounding board.
And then there are the times, for me too, where we think a blanket approach is better than a small targeted repair. If a child wants to learn to ride a bike, it’s better to add air to the tires rather than put both the bike and the child into a car and drive up and down the driveway. Be specific in what you do.
And surely the best path we can set people on is to know God’s love and that our love is from God’s love, to know God’s strength and God’s Righteousness. We can demonstrate these without being wordy. We can do what is right in God’s eyes, rather than take credit for helping. We can be the example of our LISTENING, of our listening to God, of taking actions due to duty. How often preserving dignity is a golden opportunity for serving.
Dignity is very often the most valuable gift for someone, especially in these times of turmoil.
Stay on the Porch.