WHEN HELP REALLY HURTS

There are many situations in life requiring wisdom. Sometimes knowing how to help someone can be tricky. For instance, what do you do when someone who has a history of drug abuse comes to you asking for money? As far as you know the person has been clean for several years and you have no reason to believe they’re using now, but you’ve been noticing some red flags. They have been acting a bit erratic lately, and now they need cash and fast. What about someone who has a history of going in and out of jail? When do you know it’s time to stop giving to them?

Just a bit of advice to any who haven’t been or lived around someone using drugs. When they start behaving desperate, selling their belongings, asking for money and getting easily offended watch out, especially if you haven’t witnessed this type of behavior before. There’s a good chance there’s something up. So what do you do? This is where wisdom comes in.

I recently talked with a friend of mine who has been attempting to point someone in the right direction. The person they are helping is facing many charges extending from drugs, weapons etc. They have been in and out of jail over and over again in the past years and yet they say, “I’m done with it this time. I’m going to give my life to God.” How do you know when it’s real? When is it time to back away?

My friend was telling me how he had helped this guy before and he ended up back on drugs, breaking his probation and was put back in jail. Now he’s saying, “I’m done this time.” My friend has been contemplating whether or not he should help him anymore. He asked me about it and we talked about the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. It seems the father in that story accepted his son back and gave him full access to all of his goods, signified by his giving him the ring, without any trial period at all. I told my friend the one thing about the prodigal though was he was broken and truly repentant. I’m not so sure about your friend though. This takes discernment from the Spirit.

As my friend told me this he said, “one thing he said was I have to get out of here.” There it is! The real motivation this man has isn’t to stop his behavior rather it’s to get out of jail. I was so proud of my friend because he heard the real reason behind what was being said, and realized his friend wasn’t really repentant, therefore he probably shouldn’t give anything to him for now.

Looking back at the story of the prodigal in Luke 15, notice what took place just before the wayward son came to his senses. After the son had been given his inheritance, went into a far country, spent all his money living irresponsibly and found himself so hungry he longed to eat pig-slop, we read, “and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses…” It was only after no one was there to help him that he came to his senses. I’m not sure about you; but for me it was only after my wife left, I lost my job, my friends stop coming around and I had a raging addiction that I was awakened to my true condition. Then and only then did I decide I wanted to live rather than die; so I headed toward a methadone clinic to start rebuilding my life.

Without quoting too many cliches let me just say, “sometimes you really do have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I’ve also heard it said time and time again “tough love is still love.” As painful as it is to watch someone you love going down the wrong road, many times they have to come to the conclusion it’s the wrong road on their own and all you can do is patiently wait for them to see it. Then you will be free to welcome them back with open arms and enjoy watching God restore them bit by bit to their sanity, family, employment, purpose and joy. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when our help is really hurting the ones we love; but thankfully the Spirit of God is there to show us what we need to see at the very moment we need to see it. If you’re facing a similar situation in life right now don’t let your feelings take the lead. Stop and ask God to show you the truth, open your ears to wisdom and wait…..James 1:5-8.

Louie

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WHAT IS REPENTANCE?

I often ask, when sharing the gospel with people, what does repentance mean? I normally get about three answers. Someone has said repentance means “To ask for forgiveness.” Others have said, “To say you’re sorry or to turn around.” I suppose these can be considered correct although the root meaning goes a little further and means “To think differently i.e. reconsider.” You see any of us can say we’re sorry and even ask for forgiveness but it is only upon thinking about our sin differently that there will be real change of direction.

Paul had to deal with an issue in the Corinthian church that required repentance. He wrote them telling them how to deal with a man that was having an affair with his father’s wife. He told them to “deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” In other words, they were to remove him from the fellowship until he came to his senses and changed his mind about his sinful behavior. It seems as though this sinful behavior was going on in their midst with everyone’s full knowledge so Paul told them they had to take drastic measures in order to keep everyone else from being damaged by his behavior. Of course the ultimate goal was for the man to repent and for the church to forgive and restore him to fellowship. This type of discipline should never be implemented without reconciliation being the goal. This is a form of tough love on behalf of Paul and the Corinthian church, sort of an intervention if you will.

If you read the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians you’ll discover the rest of the story. In 2 Corinthians 7 after Paul finds out they corrected the man and allowed him back into fellowship he writes, “For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” He goes on to list a few things this true repentance caused. He said, “What vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong!” Once they had their mind changed about this it stirred them in a good way and the behavior changed.

In my own life I think of repentance in terms of drugs and alcohol. If I still thought alcohol or drugs were the answer to my problems I wouldn’t have repented. On the other hand, if I have truly repented (changed my mind), about drugs and alcohol, I won’t want to do them anymore. So you see repentance is really God’s gift to us. If he didn’t grant us the ability to change our minds we couldn’t be saved. The Bible tells us, as believers, we have the mind of Christ. I guess it’s really an exchange of minds. Of course for most of us we have to go through a significant amount of pain and frustration before this takes place don’t we? Aren’t you glad Jesus Christ has given us the grace and mercy to receive his mind in order to have his point of view on these things?

Written by Louie