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“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.”  (Proverbs 3:27)

My mother often told the story of her mother’s way of reaching out to others.  When my grandmother heard about someone at the other end of the street who was going through a tough time, she would reach out to these neighbors who, in some cases, she barely knew.  If someone lost their job or if the family was struggling in some way, she might make an extra kettle of soup and see that it was delivered to them. It was not untypical in those days that when you heard of someone who had a need, you would just show up. Unfortunately, that principle escapes us today as it would not be customary to do so. In fact, it probably wouldn’t even cross our mind. Feeling a sense of commitment is not valued or stressed like it once was. At one time, one would be recognized for perfect attendance at school or work. Now  any level of expectation for the same behavior would be unusual.  I cannot tell you how many times I have scheduled job interviews for applicants who were a ‘no show’. Persons who decide to just ‘wing it’ regarding employment have little chance of being sensitive in reaching out to others who are in need.

For twenty-one seasons, baseball legend Cal Ripken, Jr. took the field day in and day out, through all kinds of weather to play in more than 3,000 games for the Baltimore Orioles. The revered shortstop helped to lead his team to victory in the 1983 World Series. On September 6, 1995, Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s formerly unsurpassed fifty-six-year-old record, setting a new mark of 2,131 consecutive games. He then went on to play an additional 501 without a break. Throughout his career, Ripken was admired for his consistency, hard work, and loyalty. In his inspirational book, Just Show Up, he claims that simply being there builds good character not only in sports but also establishes an important life practice. He says that “winging it does not sustain success.” Instead he has always subscribed to an old-fashioned sense of doing what was right, every single day. No doubt he would agree with the Biblical principle, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:17).

Famous people like Ripken may have an impact on our thinking, but we must put this mental motivation into personal practice.  For those who are Christian, we need to model our actions to imitate what Jesus would do.  Consider the emotional state of His followers following His death and how they must have felt when He showed up following His resurrection. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’” (John 20:19-21).  When Jesus shows up, everything is different. Jesus shows up when things seem hopeless. Secondly, He shows up because he understands the struggles we are facing. Third, but certainly not last in significance – Jesus shows up because he cares, and He wants us to demonstrate that sense of caring to others. The Apostle Paul stated it this way – “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), “And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God” (Hebrews 13:16).

So, do that thing you know to be right.  Make the call, bake that casserole, send that card, ring that doorbell, or put some cash in an envelope and send it anonymously . . . reach out in a way that will be practical for you as the giver but also able to be delivered in a spirit that will be comfortable for the receiver as well. If you know someone is hurting and they need to experience the love of Jesus, don’t sit back and do nothing because you are uncomfortable or think someone else will.  Get over it, my friend. It’s what Christ would have you do.  By all means . . . when you feel that nudge, you can be certain He is prompting you that it’s time to move forward and just show up.

REFLECTION: When is the last time someone showed up to help you through a difficult time? Can you recall knowing of a need and later feeling guilty for not helping to fill it? Consider someone who you know could benefit from your reaching out to them?  Develop a plan to act on this prompting. Is there a way that you could effectively involve others, or would it be best done alone?


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