An email landed in my inbox with a simple request to provide a meal to a family in need. My instant reaction: “I am too overwhelmed to add another task to my plate.” So I did nothing. My decision didn’t sit well as the days went by. I know the relief those meals would’ve provided, yet I opted not to help.
Have you been in those shoes? Too busy or overwhelmed to commit to loving others? Full of the desire to help, but swift to conclude a lack of capacity, only to be left with the ache of a missed opportunity? Life sometimes gets in the way of our best intentions to serve others. We often think, “How can I pour into others when I don’t have time to pour into myself?” After all, what good will come from an empty well?”
Scripture challenges us here. Paul told us to display the humility of Christ in Philippians 2:3–4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” These words convict and challenge my heart to give generously. “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38). But when I am pressed on all sides, giving is the last thing on my mind. Giving requires sacrifice—a willingness to pour out of one’s self to fill another’s needs.
Lingering over Paul’s words, I consider what it means to live this out, to pour into others when I feel there is nothing left to give. How do I allow God to fill in the gaps and respond to the still, small voice to use gifts he has given me in order to help others? Time and again, the answer comes by simply saying yes. This challenges me to rely more on “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).
Several weeks after ignoring that email, another opportunity to meet a need surfaced. Even as I walked my own heavy, hard days, I said yes. I focused not on myself but on others as I shopped, chopped, and stirred, and placed the meal on a doorstep. A reprieve from my own heavy things as I focused on the needs of another.
The struggle to put others’ needs above my own remains ever present, but loving others through simple acts of generosity always ends up giving more than it takes—a reminder that God can do more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
MaryBeth is a writer who encourages people to hold on to hope and seek God’s provision and grace in their weakness as they encounter the unexpected. She shares encouragement at www.marybetheiler.com.