by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 42 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
The only things that you can keep for yourself are those which you give to others.
There is no life so "empty" as the "self-centered" life: there is no life so "centered" as the "self-emptied" life. Miserable is that man who thinks of himself. Happy is that man who thinks of others. Someone has well said, "Happiness is stumbled upon in the pathway of duty."
How may I help others?
1. I must ask myself, "What can I do to help in every need I see?" I must not think, "What can another do to help?" but rather, "What can I do to help?" I must associate myself with the needs of others. Pity is not enough. Sympathy is not enough. Even compassion is not enough. I must always ask, "What can I do to help?"
2. Another's need must be by challenge. Two men had passed by the wounded one before the good Samaritan stopped to help. He did not ask, "Should I help?" but rather said, "I must help!" To see another in need was his challenge. This is true not only for the needs of a fellow that is half dead beside the road, but it is true even for the small needs of a friend. I must identify myself with him so that not only will his needs be a challenge to me, but an opportunity. His needs must be as my needs.
Perhaps being a pastor for so many years makes one feel more identified with others than he would normally feel. I find myself feeling as a part of every family of my church so that when a particular family has a decision to make, I feel that it is "our" decision. When a family has a problem, I feel that it is "our" problem. One will never know the true secret of helping others until he is challenged by their needs.
3. I must listen for the wants of others. If that want will not do harm to my friend, I must attempt to satisfy it. Recently I was preaching in a distant state and noticed a beautiful "tie tac" worn by a fellow pastor. I commented to him about the beauty of the "tie tac." The next evening he handed me a little envelope. As I drove off from the service I opened the envelop and found the "tie tac" that I had admired before. (The next night I bragged on his suit, but to no avail.)
4. I must determine the answer to another's needs even if I am not asked. Of course, I will not offer the answer unless I am asked to do so. I must not appear to be a know-it- all, yet I must always attempt to find the answers to the needs of others.
A few years ago I was leaving for a trip to the Middle East when a friend of mine said with a smile on his face, "Jack, I would suggest that you not go to Milan, Italy."
I inquired as to the reason for this suggestion, and then he said, "That is the location of the `Leaning Tower' and knowing you as I do, you would try to straighten it up while there."
This is my point: I must remind myself, however, to be very careful not to volunteer my solutions, but at the same time, I must always have tried to think of a solution in order to be able to help when asked.
5. I must not consider what others have done for me. I am debtor to all men. Whether or not someone would do it for me has nothing to do with my decision to help him. The Apostle Paul said that he was debtor to all men, to the Jew, to the Greek, to the Barbarian, yea, to every man. I, too, am such a man. I am a debtor to those who love me just because they love me. I am a debtor to those who hate me because they need me. Our Lord reminds us that it is no longer an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth, but we are to bless those who curse us, pray for those who despitefully use us, and love those who hate us. This is the law of Grace and the law of Love. I must not help others because they help me; I must help others because they need help. My motivation should not be caused by external stimuli but internal love and compassion. The unkind may need more than the kind, the ugly more than the pretty, the bad more than the good, the weak more than the strong, so I must remember never to let what others do for me motivate my deeds for them.
6. I must be careful that what I do is best for others and not what others think I should do for them. My satisfaction should not come from satisfying others but from helping others. My goal should not be to be loved and admired by others but to help others. Hence, I must not always do for another what he thinks should be done for him. This means that oftentimes those whom I love most will understand me the least. It means sometimes the ones for whom I do the most will think I do them harm. It may not be until we are in Heaven that my brother will understand that I have helped him, but help him I must, and help him I will! My goal is not to please him but to help him. To be sure, to please him is a welcome bonus; to help him is the great reward.
7. I must wait for vindication when misunderstood. The One Who helped others the most was crucified, misunderstood, hated, and rejected of men. Could it be that the more I become like Him the more I, too, will be misunderstood, rejected, and hated of men? When, and if, I am so honored to be counted worthy to suffer with Him, may it be because I, with Him, have tried to help others. And may I leave to Him the vindication and the retaliation.
I know a preacher who was hated by another. He sought no retaliation, but instead did anonymous favors for his enemy. In due time he was completely vindicated, and his enemy fell into sin and reproach. "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19)
I must help those who need help the most. The one who does me evil is in the most need of my help.
8. I must not be happy about my vindication. It has been a wonderful thing through the years to watch the hand of God upon my ministry. Miraculous things have happened as God has vindicated His Word and soul winning through the years. Unfortunate things have happened to people who have lifted up their hands against God's anointed. Though I rejoice in God's protecting hand, I must not rejoice when misfortune falls to others as God vindicates me. I must remember to let God care for the vengeance, and I must comfort my enemies even while they suffer such vengeance. I must be happy about God's protection of me, but I must not be happy when another suffers.
9. I must claim wisdom to help others. I do not always know the needs of another. Since his wants may not be his needs, and since I, too, am limited by human frailties, I must seek divine help and wisdom to determine his needs. I have this promise from the Holy Spirit: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, That giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5) I must claim this promise. Without it, I could misinterpret the needs of others and do them harm instead of good.
How then may I get wisdom? I may get it by reading diligently the book of Proverbs, which is the book of wisdom. I may get it by fellowship with those who are wise. In fact, there is a bit of wisdom that I can get from every man. Every man knows something that I do not know; I must probe until I find it; hence, all men are my teachers.
"Lord, help me live from day to day In such a self-forgetful way,
That even when I kneel to pray My prayer shall be for others.
"Others, Lord, yes, others, Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others, That I may live like Thee.
"Help me in all the work I do To ever be sincere and true,
And know that all I'd do for You Must needs be done for others.
"Let `Self' be crucified and slain And buried deep;
and all in vain May efforts be to rise again Unless to live for others.
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion,
warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY