It is hard to know how people are going to respond. Those in need do not always welcome help. Some in pain appear to want to suffer. There are those who believe others are acting with intent, even when there is nothing other than a positive, nurturing, and helpful motive involved. Observing this from a distance is far easier than looking at oneself in the mirror. Human nature is shares far more in common with its manifestations than it differs.
How many times have you been out in public and reacted to someone wearing a big thread or hair on his or her clothes? The natural reaction is to reach out and remove it! If you are male, and the person you would like to help is a female you do not know, then any touch could be viewed as an assault. How often do you find yourself standing in a crowded train next to someone needing a tie straightened? Experience suggests our offers to help will not be accepted with anything other that doubt, fear, and skepticism.
The fear many people live with doesn’t end with these trivial examples. Knowing when and how to help in the workplace is a pool of uncertainty. Trying to do something when others may not want to see you succeed is a similar risk. People do not always respond positively to your actions even though your best intent is to do something that helps. Even in Jesus’ day the process was similar. Although he lived to help, “the high priests and Pharisees gave out the word that anyone getting wind of him should inform them. They were all set to arrest him.” (John 11.57) In our case it could be worse!
There are two ways to respond. Let the knowledge of how others may respond control our actions or do the right thing. I choose to help, even if there is a price tag with the act. I also choose to be helped. It is a two-way street. How we receive is as important as how we give.
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