Have you ever had the feeling that any good deed you try is counteracted by a good swift kick in the pants?
I recently grabbed a quick lunch at a local restaurant. I don’t like eating at fast food restaurants, but, occasionally, I don’t have much choice. Then, once in the restaurant the menu doesn’t give me much choice, either.
I ordered my lunch and settled at a corner table. About halfway through my lunch an older couple took the table next to me. Being a “people watcher,” which is a fancy way of saying, “I’m nosy,” I watched this couple out of the corner of my eye.
I noticed right away the woman got her things situated immediately. Not so with the man.
He struggled to unwrap the plastic fork. He fumbled trying to break the plastic wrapping and free his fork so he could begin eating. Nothing he did seemed to advance his cause.
Without missing a beat, his wife reached over, took the wrapped fork from her husband, popped it open in one easy motion and handed it back to him. Without saying a word, he took it and began eating.
This incident reminded me of something that happened the week before.
A friend phoned, asking me if I could help a friend of his who was moving from Florida to Virginia and had nobody to help him. Immediately I agreed to help all I could. After hanging up my phone, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.
I told him to have this person call me. I figured if he doesn’t call, I wouldn’t have to help. No sooner had this thought rambled through the little gray cells, then the telephone rang. It was this person requesting my assistance.
I invited him to church on Sunday and we would see how we could help him. I hoped the “we” did not mean “me.” After hanging up the telephone, I told my wife the incident and she reassuringly said, “He may not even come to church.” I took comfort in her suggestion.
On Sunday morning, an hour before services, this person showed up at church. He introduced himself and we got acquainted.
“All I have,” he assured me, “are 25 boxes of books that I need to take to the post office so I can mail them to where I am going.”
Well, I mused, this may not be as bad as I thought.
On awakening Monday morning, second thoughts about the whole project bombarded my empty head. I was trying to think of some way to graciously bow out of the whole mess.
I have a problem pronouncing the word “no.” You have no idea the trouble this has brought me. I’m thinking of consulting a speech therapist to help me.
My watch told me I was running a little late. I wish my watch would tell me how to get out of such predicaments. But when I inquired, it didn’t give a tick. Then an idea burst in my noggin. If he said anything about me being late I will get mad, turn around and go home. Or, if he wasn’t ready to move the boxes when I got there, I would, in a huff, turn around and stomp off and go home.
It’s been such a long time since I got mad or angry that I wasn’t confident of my plan. But, I reasoned to myself, it’s worth a try.
I found myself running about 45 minutes late. I was grinning to myself, thinking this would be enough to make him say something about my tardiness.
When I arrived, he was waiting for me with everything in readiness. He greeted me in a very cheery voice and made no mention whatsoever about my lateness.
This distressed me.
Surveying the work before us, I figured it would only take a few hours to load the truck, drive to the post office, which was only a couple blocks away.
I had the auspicious job of lifting every box from the truck up on to the dolly on the dock, several feet over my head. Complicating things even more, the post office personnel supervising the unloading of these boxes was a woman. This meant I could not groan nor complain about the strain of lifting boxes several feet over my head. I guess it must be a man thing.
I was wondering while working, just why he asked for help. Really, this was not a two man job. He could have done this quite nicely all by himself.
Then the real reason slipped out from under a nearby rock where it had been hiding.
“The school where I will be teaching,” he began, “will reimburse me for all my expenses in moving. But …” I was now ready for the rest of the story. “But, I am a little short on cash and was wondering if you could help me? I’ll be glad to send the money back to you.”
Then I got mad.
I thought he wanted a hand up when in reality he wanted a hand out.
Driving home I was reminded of what the Bible said, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10).
I remembered what someone told me once. Nobody can take advantage of a Good Samaritan.
Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543, 352-687-4240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.jamessnyderministries.com. The church website is www.whatafellowship.com.