Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
Oh, what a quandary we are in! How many times have we been told to mind our own business? How often have we been told to leave other people alone and not bother them? How often have we been cautioned not to become busybodies or gossips? And not, in the biblical letter to the Philippians, we are instructed to look out for the interests of others as well as those of ourselves. How do we know what is the right thing to do?
In order to make real sense of this short yet confounding passage, some other instructions in the bible might be helpful. We are taught to feed the hungry, help the sick and afflicted, and welcome the strangers. We are taught that all men and women are the children of God and that they are our brothers and sisters. We are taught, above all else, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Think about that a moment. If we use the Great Commandment as a guidepost, what would we have people do? Would we have our neighbor buy groceries if we couldn’t afford to? Would we have someone living down the street take us in if our house was foreclosed? How far does the goodness and giving go? Is there a point at which it becomes ridiculous?
In the city I live nearest to, there are signs cautioning people not to give money to beggars but to direct them to a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or other appropriate agency. For our own safety and security, this is undoubtedly the best possible choice. But what would Jesus have done? Would He have told the hungry to go get a free breakfast at a church a mile away? Or, would the Lord have given the beggar a bit of his own food, sharing with him as a brother? This is a real quandary and we are treading on very thin ice.
Times have changed, but the grace, the caring, the loving and the giving nature of Jesus Christ had not changed. We live in a different time and place and have to make some adjustments for our own safety and simple common sense. No, we can’t bring every stranger on the street into our homes. No, we can’t feed all the hungry and homeless. But we can, as Philippians teaches, watch out for the interests of others.
These others may be members of our own families, close friends, or the panhandler on the corner at the shopping mall. In some cases, we can take an active role in helping someone close to us with material goods, problem solving, mediation, professional help, or simply a hug and a cup of coffee. We cannot help all in need, but we can give a bit of our time and money to a homeless shelter. We can make it a habit to help serve a free meal at a local soup kitchen. We can donate nonperishable food to our local food banks and pantries. And, most of all, we can always pray.
References: Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor and Holy Bible, King James Version.
Columbia Prayer Chain: Wednesday, September 5
In our prayers: Amanda Littlefield, Dean Timothy Jones, Elizabeth Bowman, Linda Langford, Marty Fritz, Harriet Hancock, Tommy and Robby Palmer, Patty and Ted MacLaughlin, Todd and Amanda, Janet Long, Jordan Hill, Shirley Corder, Bobby Wilson, Debbie and Pat Barry, Betty Jo Sullivan, Mary Francis Harris, Angelina Rice, Patrick and Patricia Barry, Jordan Hill, Doris Clevenger, Charles Sigel, Joe Reno, Bob Davis, John Whatley, Nancy Zuckerman, Mack James, Charles Davis Sr., Elaine and Sharon, Bill Carter, Betty Peavy Frick, Joye Cantrell, Fred and Gail, Dale and Norma Sessions, Padge Arrington, Jerry Callahan, Norman Masters, Janice Ayoub
In memoriam: Katherine Wertz Davis, Linden Judith Donnelly, Patricia Amond Gregory. Sadie Hooker Caulder, Dr. Catherine Spann Davoli, Anne S. Taylor. Florence P. Langford, Etheridge Walker, Joseph P. Logan, Johnnie Leroy Miller, Marjorie Dean O’Neal
Ann Myers, Margaret Cromer, Thomas Theodore Dawson Jr., Mary Elizabeth Boland
Our prayers are with: The elderly, the homeless, all currently fighting illness, all beloved pets, our president and congress, our police officers and firefighters, all who serve in the armed forces
Columbia Prayer Chain is open to all residents of greater Columbia who would like to share prayers and receive the prayers of others. Please leave your name in the comment box below or email me to join our Prayer Chain. It is updated daily.
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