A Comfortable Happy Birthday!
Have you done any heavy burden lifting this week? Sometimes in our mixed-up culture, it is difficult to try to help others lift their burdens when we feel so many in our own lives. But for all our complaints, most of us who live in the United States have a pretty comfortable life and this week many celebrate that comfort with the 243rd birthday of independence. This event beginning on the 4th often lasts through the weekend in some form or another.
There are many good things about the States and some things that aren’t. But the negatives should not give us excuses for bad behavior for our country or its people. For whatever political standing we may hold, those that live in the States have at least a somewhat satisfactory life even with our somewhat quirky way of thinking. Where else could you live that a pizza is delivered faster to your house than an ambulance? And it is in the States that a drug store forces the sick to walk to the back of the store to receive their medication, while the healthy people can purchase cigarettes right at the front. And if that isn’t enough, it is in the States that you can order a triple size, “Biggy,” meal with a DIET drink.
I love that in the States, we leave our cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway so we can lock our junk up securely in our garage. We screen our calls, but yet also have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to anyway. And as we celebrate this week, we quickly realize it is only here that we buy hot dogs in packs of 10 while buns come in packages of 8.
Generosity Helps Lift the Burdens
But with all of our quirks, the United States remains one of the top 5 most generous countries in the world. We began as a rebellious group seeking the ability to pursue equality of persons with fundamental rights along with the ability to seek individual happiness. And for the most part, to help others pursue their happiness as well and that is found most often through helping others lift their burdens.
There is a Chinese saying that says, If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. And if it is happiness for a day you are looking for, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, perhaps inheriting a fortune might help. However, if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody else. It is ingrained in most of us that it isn’t what we receive but what we give that makes life grand. This isn’t a new concept as for centuries, the greatest thinkers have said that “Happiness is found in helping others.” And it is through the teachings and examples of Christ that we see this moral code the strongest.
If history isn’t enough to convince you of this concept, then perhaps scientific research will. There is new compelling data to support the evidence that through helping lift the burdens of others a powerful means to personal growth and happiness develops. Scientists discovered through functional magnetic resonance or fMRI, a technique that measures and maps brain activity, that giving activates the pleasure parts of the brain. Through experiments, the evidence shows that helping others is hardwired into our brains. But if we want to help lift the burdens of others, we first must show people we really care, for it takes more than a checkbook and speech.
Helping Requires You to Get Real
Lifting the burdens of others must be more than good intentions. There is a story about a man who fell overboard from a luxury liner. Because he couldn’t swim, in desperation he calls out for help. There were many who witnessed the incident and offered their help, but only one who rescued the man. The first witness was a moralist. When he saw the man fall overboard, he immediately ran to get him a book on how to swim. He tossed it to the drowning man yelling, “Now, you read that and just follow the instructions and you will be alright.
The second witness happened to be an idealist. When he saw the man go overboard, he immediately jumped into the water too and began swimming all around the drowning victim telling him, “Now just watch me swim and do as I do. You will then be ok.” The witness next to him was a member of the institutional church. This witness looked upon the drowning man’s situation with deep concern. Then yelled out, “Now hold on my friend. Help is on the way. We will establish a committee and dialogue your problem. And when we come up with the proper financing, your dilemma will no longer be an issue.
Another witness was a representative of the school of positive thinking. This witness yelled to the drowning man, “Friend, this situation is not nearly as bad as you imagine. Think dry!” The last witness, thankfully, was a realist. He immediately plunged into the water, at the risk of his own life, and pulled the victim to safety. This witness was a true burden lifting expert that knew in order to be effective, action must come immediately.
Helping Should Come from Humble Beginnings
But in even in the active helping of others, it is important to remember that we do so from a humble point of view. It is essential to realize that we, as people, are not totally independent and that not only are we to lift the burdens of others, we are to also accept the help from others as they seek to lift our burdens as well. This is the harvesting of what we plant or reaping what we sow proverbs. Christ instructs His followers to go out into the world and teach others about Him, but this only begins as we show others that we truly care about them. We can’t be effective in reaching people for Him until we show people our authenticity.
Christ first showed people that He cared about them before He revealed Himself to them. The burdens of the world lie around us and we should all be like a realist when attempting to help lift those burdens from others. This requires us to jump in the water and do the necessary work, for it is in this that we follow the teaching of Christ.
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
Burden Lifting is Not Always Easy or Wanted
An attitude of lifting other’s burdens is one of love seen through action. It is an attitude that genuinely is aware of others and their needs, but we must offer our help by being both gracious and sensitive at the same time. In addition, it is crucial that we work together in the best interest of others considering more than ourselves as we see and explore their perspective as well. It is through these types of actions that the church of Christ function for the common good. Christ warns us that as we move into the world under His authority, we will face opposition. But in this opposition, we must show only gentleness and love for we are representing Him. This can sometimes be seen even as we make attempts to help others.
In all of the enthusiasm for our desire to help others, we must also remember that even though we strongly desire positive results it isn’t the end means of the help that is important. Our perspective and priorities of burden lifting, if done through the ways and teaching of Christ, are not to achieve the superior feeling of happiness from helping, but to remember that our greatest accomplishment is that we hold victory in Christ. It is only through God’s wonders at work in us, that we can approach the lifting of other’s burdens. The happiness we derive from it is merely a by-product of the great things to come.
Truly Live Life by Helping Others Lift Their Burdens
Won’t you challenge yourself to focus on actively helping others lifting their burdens in a genuine and sensitive manner as Christ demonstrated to us? Recognize that it is through your convictions in Him that moves you forward wanting to diligently show others His example. Find your motivation in knowing that through helping others you are also benefiting yourself but remembering that your ultimate accomplishment lies in heaven. For it is in this knowledge that you can surround yourself in comfort knowing that your victory lies in eternity.
Recently, a friend of mine posted a Peanuts cartoon that speaks volumes. Charlie Brown sits on the dock looking out at the water and says, “We only live once Snoopy.” But Snoopy wisely replied, “Wrong! We only die once. We live every day!” Remember to live every day doing all you can to help lift the burdens of others showing them Christ, because that is truly living!
Love in Christ,
We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give –Winston Churchill
What are Your Thoughts?
Have you found it easy to help lift the burdens of others through humility? Do you gain a sense of intense happiness through helping others? Is it difficult for you to allow others to help you? Share your thoughts on active burden lifting from both perspectives, the giver and the receiver.