What Is the Best Way to Help Each Other Rise?
- Lianna Davis Writer
- 2021 13 Dec
I’ve observed a couple styles of helping others—or, “helping,” as the case may be.
Helping others, as I am using it here, involves the stronger believer stooping to the weaker believer. It involves the offer to another soul of what he or she does not have at the time—whether perspective, practical assistance, guidance, encouragement, etc.
No matter how generous the offer of assistance, the manner of extending help, I believe, is of consequence. One’s approach to helping another person can influence whether the weaker person rises versus feels diminished—whether the weaker moves forward versus becomes stagnant.
Giving good help, I believe, involves supporting the weaker person for each next stage and step of his or her work on the journey ahead.
A High View
Helping that holds a high view of the weaker expresses hope and optimism for the capabilities the person possesses. It envisions oneself in the same position as the weak, which—save God’s sparing grace—could have been the case or could be in the future, as the case may be.
Good helping hopes of all things that a difficult time be an isolated event or season in the larger scheme of life. Stooping to the weaker does not necessitate the stronger sets oneself above the weaker; the stronger and weaker are yet able to walk side-by-side, with the hope that if circumstances ever reversed, help would be returned.
A Compassionate View
Good helping also hopes all things about the reasons for any missteps. It looks for the right stems from which behaviors come, for the ways missteps can be attributed to pain and sorrow that need to be healed. It withholds any baseline assumption that willful rebellion is the cause of missteps, or that sin is the cause for all suffering.
Good helping accepts outward behaviors as they are so that the inward heart, soul, mind, and spirit can be mended. It doesn’t discount personal responsibility, and the need for work and progress in time. Yet, it trusts that the outward manifestations of pain in the form of missteps will become transformed as inward healing in Christ occurs—indeed that the outward manifestations likely cannot be transformed until the inward pain of the heart has been addressed with truth and grace (Mark 2:17).
Good helping refrains from judgment. It does not see a person for his or her weakness. Rather, it looks to the heart to seek and champion the good there—and observes the work God is doing in order to encourage it (1 Thessalonians 5:11). It listens to another’s heart. And in response, it doesn’t prescribe or mandate, but upholds and guides in gentleness to Jesus.
Good helping lets the weaker take the steps, while providing a kind shoulder of support for his or her head. And it gives a gentle twist of his or her shoulders when the path under foot has been momentarily, or for a season, lost. Finally, it blesses the other, with godly pride, when right steps forward are achieved (2 Corinthians 7:4).
A View Toward Freedom
The freedom God gives us to pursue him in this life as we will teaches us that we’ve each been entrusted with choices concerning how we seek God and how we will live before him (Matthew 22:37).
Help, then, takes its cue from this God-given freedom. It supports another for the purpose of—with the goal of—completely stepping aside. It seeks to let the other walk, rise, and live his or her own life. It does not seek to overtake another’s mind, heart, or will, but upholds another’s personhood. Indeed, it views another as more highly than oneself (Philippians 2:3-8). Help sets the other person more securely to work, rest, and live in the freedom of life that God has given to him or her.
With a view toward honoring that God-given personhood—intellect, emotions, and volition—of another, only essential help is offered while friendship is generously applied. And the help is offered with humility that only God is the perfect counselor (John 14:26)—all believers being priests with entry into his holy throne room of grace (1 Peter 2:5). So, God might lead another person on a different righteous way than another might immediately envision—and that is not only okay, but good evidence of Jesus being sought.
Helping Like Jesus
Is this uplifting kind of help not like him? Jesus sees in us people worth building into (Ephesians 2:21), people made in his image (Genesis 1:27) of great value in his sight (Matthew 6:26) who are capable of a holy calling as his Spirit overtakes us more and more (2 Timothy 1:9). He sees us in this refreshing way, as he accepts us in space and time. In love, his total acceptance pairs with good truth so that the forward work can take place.
In this way of approaching us, Jesus enables the truth to be received by us—for we know that grace, and not condemnation, is in his heart toward us (John 3:17). What falls short in the inner person is not “make or break” for our relationship with him—we won’t lose him. He already knows (Romans 5:8).
We know he speaks to us as a kind friend and Father. More, he speaks as a lover of our souls, calling us to rest in a beautiful abode of adoring him, and telling others how good he is through word and actions that duplicate the kind of goodness we have received.
If the weaker is made to believe opposite kinds of messages—that he or she is to be viewed according to his or her missteps, that he or she is not able to make wise choices anymore because some have been revealed to be failures, that he or she lives under the weight of condemnation felt by the downward glances of those around who do not see as God sees (1 Samuel 16:7), or that he or she will never be able to freely pursue the fullness of who God has created him or her uniquely to be again but will likely live subject to others’ “help” or to others’ glances of shame—these messages are debilitating and not of Jesus.
Jesus Shows Us the Way
He helps us grow to show others grace as we have received it, and to each take our own places alongside the weak and lowly—since weakness is the entry point into gospel faith and lowliness the entry point into God’s presence each and every day (Matthew 5:3; James 4:6).
If we do have opportunity to help a weaker soul, it is not so far off—is it?—from imitating the help we receive each day from Jesus. That is how I have come to understand it, as I have learned to bring my weakness to Jesus for his help morning by morning.
Jesus shows us how: he teaches us to lift one another to our holy callings in Christ as we are created in him for good works that he has prepared in advance for each of us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Perhaps it could be best expressed that good helping, then, does not set oneself over the other, but beside or even beneath—that we might prop another up for a time, keep another from falling, nudge another to the next work on the journey, and encourage another in his or her power in the Spirit to stand and walk independent of help when the time is right.
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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/kieferpix
Lianna Davis is author of Keeping the Faith: A Study in Jude and Made for a Different Land: Eternal Hope for Baby Loss. She and her husband, Tyler, live outside of Dallas, Texas and have two dear daughters.