Maundy Thursday 2024

Maundy Thursday 2024 March 4, 2024

Practical Spirituality series

Is it better to talk about helping others or to actively engage in it? Both are good. But given the choice, which is better to do?

Intellectual exercise: Talking about helping others raises our awareness and reminds us that if we see a need we should take care of it. It’s an intellectual exercise reinforced by emotions from recognition that God takes care of us and Jesus became the sacrifice for things we do wrong. God wants mercy, not sacrifice. This type of intellectual exercise reinforced by emotion becomes an attitude, and attitudes shape our behavior.

Praxis: Our heart responds when we see someone in need. We help the person. Both of us feel good. That’s very strong reinforcement and demonstrates who we are as Christians or people of God. When we repeatedly do it, it becomes a habit and we become better at it.

Does the Bible weigh in on this? Of course:

“For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’ “If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you.”–Deuteronomy 15: 11-14 (NASB)

Helping Others by Rokung12 on Wikimedia
Helping Others by Rokung12 on Wikimedia

I just want everyone to know that at the church rummage sale I’m not buying any Hebrew men or women. When they leave my home my wife will harm me if I send them away with our pets. And I have neither a threshing floor and crops, nor a wine vat.

This Hebrew type of slavery is commonly known today as an employment contract because it’s entered willingly for money and every few years employers downsize and dismiss you, sending you away with a couple of month’s salary.

Some things never change. The poor are always with us. Jesus also said this. We could change this if we had the heart and mind to, but pursuing money is always in the way. Why we ignore this is something to reflect about on Maundy Thursday and the season of Lent.

We produce enough food to feed 1.5x the global population. Thin Ink.

Ancient quandary over treatment of the needy

The question or situation posed by the ancient prophets of Israel and Jesus is whether the intellectual exercise becomes a substitute for doing benevolent actions. In becoming a substitute it soothes our conscience and enables us to overlook genuine needs. This is the hypocrisy of leaders and those who pray in the Temple for show that Jesus talked about. God hates this kind of false activity.

This is the hypocrisy that the prophets saw: people having feasts, singing songs of praise, and then resuming their callous ways and mistreatment of others when they left the Temple. As a result the Glory of God left the Temple. (Amos 5:21)

The Glory of God leaving the Temple means that the Temple and people misrepresented God and what God asks of us.

Ezekiel 7-11: Violence, pride, and worship of other gods were the reasons God left the Temple.

This Lent season I suggest that pastors and people look for opportunities to help others. Helping others reflects the God within us and the message of Jesus, and is the heart of true worship (worship in spirit and in truth). Helping others carries the full meaning of what it means to be in the Kingdom of God, and love, not just an intellectual exercise.

Some things to consider:

“and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” – James 2: 16 (NASB)

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
– 1 John 3:18 (NASB)

“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” – James 2:17 (NASB)

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” – Luke 6:46 (NASB)

Which needy person did Jesus turn away?

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven”
– Matthew 5:15-16 (NASB).

Helping others requires the right attitude: How to Help Someone Who Won’t Help Themselves.

Probability Space

People in need are always around us. They stand on street corners and ask for help. They live in cars or in poverty situations. All we have to do is notice them and be prepared to help.

Ask yourself like Abraham did with the Lord when they were headed for a city to destroy the evil inhabitants who mistreated others: “How many good or bad people will hinder me from helping others?” Is it one in ten who are takers? Five in ten? Nine in ten?

Can we create a space in our minds for noticing others in need, thinking of ways to help them, and understanding how many takers are too many?

Potential Space

If you think creatively and allow your mind to wander and explore, how can we help others in ways that get them taking care of their own needs? Teach them to fish instead of perpetually giving them fish.

One way is to direct them to the many resources available to them. We carry a handout in our car that lists warming places for people during extreme cold weather, and agencies that provide temporary housing, meals for them and their families, and assist in finding a job.

When people with limited means have a car breakdown, this often means they don’t have the money to fix it and lose their income. This often leads to families becoming homeless. What are ways in which you could help? For example, could you and a bunch of friends start a car rental service (or rent to own), that would enable people in this situation to keep going?

What other ways can you think of to help others in need?

–           Dorian

Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.






About Dorian Scott Cole
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