Wednesday, March 7, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: Extend A Hand

"She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy."
Proverbs 21:20 NIV

Extend A Hand
Woven Leader Colleen Goodhart

I remember watching a tv show where the challenge was put forth to do a good deed and receive absolutely nothing for doing it. Since it was a comedy, the participants tried doing a variety of unusual things throughout the week. And, they all received things in return for their good deed.

Finally, one character thought she had actually accomplished the goal. She had done a good deed and had refused any reward. Her friend asked if this made her feel good about herself. Well, of course, she did! The argument was that, in essence, she did receive something in return: the positive feeling of helping another person. So, in the end, she actually failed the challenge too!

God says helping the poor and needy is something that we should be doing as Christ-followers. We are called to be the hands and feet of the church. In The Message, Proverbs 31:20 translates,  

"She is quick to assist anyone in need; reaches out to help the poor." 
There have been many movements aimed to challenge people (not just Christians) to good deeds like “Pay it Forward” and “Random Acts of Kindness.” Sometimes these directives just feel like one more thing we're supposed to add to our busy schedule; one more thing to feel guilty about. Perhaps the real challenge is to change our perspective; to not approach this is as something we should do, but as something we want to do.

God knows what our world holds for us today. He sees everything on our plate and how overwhelming it can feel sometimes. I think that God has given us the directive to help the needy, in part, so that we can step back and perhaps realize how fortunate we truly are. One thing I’ve learned is that no matter where you are in life, there is always someone who will be more fortunate than you and someone who is not.

Helping others is also a way to turn around the challenges that you’ve been through. Some of those “Why me?” moments look totally different when you compare them to the problems of others. Reaching out and helping those in need provides an opportunity for you to apply some of the very things you’ve learned in your own situations. Personal hardship can help you relate to others in their time of need. Maybe you will even catch a glimpse of divine purpose for your suffering. 

Numerous scientific studies have looked at the benefits we get from being altruistic. Included in the list is a strengthened immune system, stress relief, and a general increase in positive feelings. These are things God wants for His children. He also wants us to reach out and care for those around us who are in need. How brilliant and amazing our God is! He rolled all these things into one big package for us.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits--
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness
 and justice for all the oppressed."
Psalm 103:2-6

Colleen is happily married to Jody and the mom of 3 wonderful boys - ages 24, 11 and 9. In her spare time she loves to read (which is great since she works in a library), and shuttle her boys to their activities. She also loves working at her church's food pantry.
She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

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