This week’s challenge has already provided some amazing stories of people meeting needs and bringing hope. This, from Joel Woodier, is no different and reminds us that all this ‘do-gooding’ comes with a cost…
Arriving home from holiday, I wasn’t surprised to find that a homeless man had taken up residence in our lounge; this had happened before. My flatmate Tim was a compulsive carer, addicted to meeting the needs of the forgotten. I mumbled and grumbled as our ‘neighbour’ ate my bread and drank my milk, while his stay subtly extended from weeks to months. Being a Good Samaritan was harder work than I expected.
Talking is easy: I love championing the cause of the needy, expressing sympathy and suggesting solutions. It makes me feel good to talk about how I could love my neighbour. This is what I excel at.
Doing is inconvenient: people don’t seem to organise their problems into my free time, and helping them costs more than my spare change. Meeting someone’s needs truly does mean taking their burdens and carrying them on my shoulders.
This is a natural part of friendship and most of us don’t struggle to lend money to friends or take them for a coffee when they’re upset. Often we are subconsciously optimistic that our friends will return the favour. However, meeting the needs of someone who will never pay you back, can feel like throwing your money away; is this sacrificial giving?
..If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. […] But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting anything back. (Luke 6:33, 35)
Let’s meet the needs of the good, the bad and the ugly, and give until it hurts, because then, we’ll start to lift the burden off their shoulders.
For Tim, every day was a day to help people; feeding the hungry, spending time with the lonely and doing chores for the elderly. I didn’t live with Jesus, but I lived with one of his best disciples. On 6th November 2012, aged 32, Tim died in a tragic accident. Just hours earlier, he left his colleagues with one last statement of the presence of Jesus. All 60 dirty cups, the cause of arguments and office feuds, were left washed, dried and arranged to spell the word ‘LOVE’. A random act of kindness that echoed profoundly through his workplace.
Dressed in my funeral suit, surrounded by thankful strangers, I made a vow. I promised to take up his mantle, meeting the needs of others, imitating Jesus.
Enough talking, time to start doing.
In loving memory of Timothy W. Cunningham, who delighted in Christ.
Joel Woodier has lived in Otley, Edinburgh and Australia and is now the assistant pastor at Bethany City Church, Sunderland.