Has this ever happened to you: the home phone rings (whether a landline or a cell phone), and there are multiple people in the house, but no one gets up to answer it? In my house, we usually let the answering machine read out the caller ID first, to see if we want to pick it up (or just yell “spam” to let everyone else know that it’s not a personal call). Other times, though, I’ve called home while I was out and no one answered the call (despite multiple family members being available).
Yes, I’ve probably been guilty of the same thing, and it’s probably safer to let the phone go to the answering machine, rather than injure oneself running to pick it up. Still, if a friend or family member is trying to reach us, ignoring them (when we have the time to talk) is not terribly polite.
Take a look at this passage from the book of Isaiah:
Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The Lord looked and was displeased
to find there was no justice.
He was amazed to see that no one intervened
to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
and his justice sustained him.
Isaiah 59:15-16 NLT
While some may claim ignorance, I don’t think that there’s much excuse today for adults to remain unaware of injustice, oppression, falsehood, and evil in this world. It is clear that there are other human beings who need help. These include victims of discrimination, people under freedom-suppressing rule, those who believe joy-stealing lies from others, and those who are unaware that they are being exploited.
In fairness, there are some who do a great job of helping others who are in need. These difference-makers are advocates, life-changers, servants, and voices of truth in a broken world. Without these examples, far more victims would remain in the clutches of those with evil intentions.
For the rest of us (myself included), some change is probably required before we can – in good conscience – say that we aren’t letting opportunities for righteous intervention pass us by. I am sure that there is more that I could do in a typical day to stand up for others, and make a difference, even as I recount times when I did the right thing.
So, what keeps us from stepping up on behalf of a fellow soul, or stepping in to a situation where one party cannot help himself/herself?
- If it is fear, what are we afraid of? (See Matthew 10:28) There is sometimes a legitimate risk to ourselves if we step in to do the right thing, but often the consequences are limited to mere social pressure, or some other similarly trivial thing.
- If it is pride, who do we really think that we are? (See James 4:14) Our Savior Jesus was willing to wash the feet of His own followers. In light of that humility (along with other elements of Jesus’ life of service), can we really think that we are too good to serve others?
- If it is inconvenience, what is more important? (See Isaiah 61:8, and Matthew 25:31-46) Like those who passed by the injured man before the good Samaritan stopped to help, are our daily obligations really more important than rescuing others? Surely we can spare a moment – or longer – to bring someone out of suffering, when the opportunity presents itself.
I appreciate that none of us can fix everything. That takes the power of God (although He shares that power generously through the lives of those who are following His directions). It is not my intention to direct guilt towards those who are seeking to do their best through Him.
However, each of us can do something. There might be specific opportunities where God strategically places you (and me) in the right situation to lift someone up. There might be a particular group of under-served people who God has called you to bless. There might be specific talents that you have been given, helping you transform lives with God’s help. Or, maybe God just needs you to say (or do) something the next time you see another human being being mistreated.
Keep an eye out, and don’t let that phone keep ringing when you know the person on the other end needs the love of God that you can share.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.