Every true Christian desires to be helpful. He longs to make his life a blessing to as many people as possible. He wishes to make the world better, and his neighborhood brighter and sweeter. He wants to make every life he touches, in even casual association, somewhat more beautiful.
It is worthwhile that we should think about how we must live if our lives are to reach this ideal. We cannot come upon this kind of life accidentally. We do not drift into a place and condition of great usefulness. Nothing but sincere love will make another happier, comfort sorrow, relieve loneliness, or give courage and cheer.
You never can be of any real help to a person if you do not care for him, and you care for him only so far as you are willing to make sacrifices to help him.
It is never by chance, therefore, that one finds oneself living a life that is full of helpfulness. Such a life comes only through a new life in Christ. That is what it means to become a Christian.
The secret of Christ was abounding personal helpfulness. We say He gave his life for sinners, and we think of the cross. But the cross was in His life from the beginning! He never had a thought or a wish for Himself. He never pleased Himself. He was always ready to give up His own comfort, His own ease, and His own preferment, so that another might be pleased or helped.
With this thought in mind, it will be a most profitable piece of Bible-reading to go through the Gospels, just to find how Christ treated the people He met. He was always kind – not only polite and courteous; but also doing kindly, thoughtful, obliging things. His inquiry concerning every person was, “Can I do anything for you? Can I share your burden? Can I relieve you of your sufferings?”
The Good Samaritan was Christ’s illustration of love, and it was a picture of His own blessed life!
This is the one answer to our question. There is no way of personal helpfulness except Christ’s way, and there is no other secret of attaining it except His secret. You cannot learn it from a book of rules. It is not a system of etiquette. It is a new life — it is Christ living in the heart!
It is personal helpfulness of which we are thinking. A man may be useful in his community; he may even be a public benefactor, and may do much for the country — and yet he may fail entirely to be a real helper of the individual lives he touches in his daily associations. A man may do much good with his money by relieving distress, founding institutions, and establishing schools — and yet he may not be a helper of people in personal ways. People will not turn to him with their personal needs. The sorrowing know nothing of comfort ministered by him; the baffled and perplexed do not look to him for guidance; the tempted do not appeal to him for deliverance; the despairing do not go to him for cheer and encouragement.
Yet it is this personal helpfulness that means the most in the close contacts of human lives.
Jesus never gave money to anyone in need, as far as we are told. He did not pay rent for the poor, nor buy food or clothes; but He was always doing good in ways that meant far more for them than if He had helped with money. There were needs that only love and kindness could meet.
Countless people move among us these days, dying of loneliness, and starving for love. You can help them immeasurably by becoming their friend – not in any special or unusual way, perhaps; but simply by doing them a single kindness, by showing a little genuine interest in them, by turning aside to do a little favor, or by manifesting sympathy if they are in sorrow.
A little note of a few lines sent to a neighbor in grief has been known to start an influence of immeasurable comfort and strength!
It is the little things of love, that count in such ministry: the little nameless acts, the little words of gentleness, and the little looks that tell of interest and care and sympathy.
Life is hard for many people, and nothing is more needed continually than encouragement and cheer!
There are men who never do anything greatin their lives; and yet they make it sunnierall around them, and they make all who know them happier and nobler and stronger.
There are women who may be overburdened themselves; but they are so thoughtful, so sympathetic, so obliging, and so full of little kindnesses, that they make the spot of the world in which they live more like Heaven!
How can we learn this lesson of personal helpfulness? It is not merely a matter of congeniality of disposition, or a matter of natural temperament. Anyone can learn it, if he takes Christ for his teacher. Then selfmust be displaced in thought and purpose and affection. If love fills the heart, then every expression of the life radiates helpfulness.
A young woman, speaking of the way in which different people had been a comfort to her in a great sorrow, said, “I wish some people knew just how much their facescan comfort others.” Then she told of an old gentleman she sometimes sat beside in the streetcar. He did not know her, but she was always helped by just being near to him and seeing his face.
There is a great deal of this unconscious helpfulness in the world. Indeed, many of the best things we do, we do without knowing we are doing them. If we are full of love, we will be helping others wherever we go; and the things we do not plan to do when we go out in the morning will be the best things of the whole day.
Not only is the life of personal helpfulness most worthwhile in the measure of good it does in its influence upon others, but no other life also brings back to itselfsuch rewards of peace, strength, comfort, and joy. Whatever love you give to another, you have not really given it away; you have it still within yourself, in larger measure than before! No gain that a person gets in this world is equal to the love of hearts, which a person receives from those whom they serve in unselfish love.
How can you personally help someone in your family today?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article! Feel free to leave your reflections and ask your questions below.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
photo by Brittney Borowski | Lightstock.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on my website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.