How important are you?

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Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.– Galatians 6:1-3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. – Romans 12:3

Birds at Sunset | South Padre Island, Texas | September 2021

Maybe you heard about the man who was growing more and more frustrated by the flight delays on day. There was a long line of people waiting to get re-ticketed, or told their fate. The man barges all the way to the front of the line, self-importance displayed in arrogant bluster, and says, “Don’t you know who I am?!?” 

The airline agent calmly takes the PA microphone off its hook and announces, “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. There is a man here who does not know who he is. Can someone please help him?” 

OK, maybe it’s a joke. But wouldn’t you like to see someone put in his place like that? Wouldn’t it be great if the bully was rendered powerless? Self-importance is such a dangerous cloak. 

I’ve watched a few episodes of Undercover Boss and have been impressed with the show’s premise. The CEO of a company goes to work as a low-level employee. He works as a pizza maker. She takes on the job of maintenance worker. They learn how life really is. They discover what it means to be one who does not have a private limo at their disposal, or a personal assistant, or even a prime parking spot. They serve along side common folk. They become not too important to help someone else.

We might think of the need to help a stranded motorist. The opportunity to pick up litter comes to mind. Any time we might need to help someone out of a bind brings with it also the chance to think, I don’t want to get my hands dirty with that issue. 

But helping people out of the mire is dirty business. Mike Rowe-averse folks need not apply. Yes it is a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it. I’m thinking of helping someone caught in the web of drug use or addictions of any kind. And in the helping may also be a temptation.

When I was in college I worked at my parent’s motel. One particularly memorable time came when “the man in room 22” (it was a small motel!) went on an alcoholic binge. He would order booze from a liquor store, have it sent by taxi to his room and drink one bottle after another. Finally we decided to intervene. I went with another friend and talked with him about the situation. We even prayed with him. A day later he had cleaned up completely and was sober and out. There was little temptation on my part to take any of his liquor. But it might open the door for some. 

Helping people can be messy. In fact Jesus got really messy when he helped us out. Obviously when he suffered and died it was a brutal mess. But even before that – early on and throughout his ministry he got messy. He consorted with tax collectors and sinners. He ate with prostitutes and people of questionable character. For that he got less respect. He was accused of improper relationships. Bad fellowship. But he changed people’s lives by becoming involved. 

We’re certainly not more important than Jesus! And we’ve been saved. Forgiven. Redeemed. Made new. 

Not everyone can go into every sinful and dark corner of the world. Women may well help other women gain their freedom from human trafficking. Men may do well to avoid those places. But wherever women or men are willing to be less important than they have a right to be, they can have a huge impact in other’s lives. 

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