I have found myself thinking this many times. This mindset provides a pass or green light to ignore the needs of those who may most desperately need our help. This mindset can feel empowering, like being the judge, jury and executioner all in one. It also gives us a clear conscience when our flesh is lazy and unwilling to be bothered.
While I will admit that sometimes, if a person is continually in a situation of needing helped, and helped and helped and time after time find themselves in the same position of need; helping may have become enabling. And that is something different entirely that what I am referring to now.
The idea that someone in need must do something, or a few things, before I find them worthy of my help is contrary to Christ’s example. Jesus said in 3 out of 4 of the Gospels, excluding John, that He didn’t come for those who thought they could help themselves.
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Also in Luke 5:31 and Matthew 9:12.
We do know that we are all the sick, as none are righteous on our own, at least before the intervening blood of Christ that is. And in our sickness, in our sin, we are incapable of helping ourselves. While we do have to make a decision to accept this free gift of Christ, the work of helping is all on Him. Maybe a person with a physical need that even asks for help has done the same amount of work as a person needing spiritual help that makes the decision to say yes to Jesus.
If we are only willing to help someone who can help themselves, is it not the same as saying, “I only love people who loved me first.” In that we are basing our feelings and actions on someone else making the first move or step or initiating the process, kinda like being tossed and thrown by what others do or don’t do. Christ says in Luke 6:42 and Matthew 5:46 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
If we are following the example of the Master as we claim, or should be aspiring to, we can’t base our feelings or love or action toward others on what they have earned or deserve from our vantage point. Apart from Christ we are all helpless sinners, who deserve the spoils of our actions, which is eternal judgement based on our sin (Hell). But because Jesus was sent to help those who couldn’t help themselves, we now have what we don’t deserve, we have the Grace and Salvation of Christ, unearned and unmerited, but freely given. Jesus helped us when we couldn’t help ourselves.