Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” Romans 15:2-3
Yesterday was our church’s food pantry distribution day. It is an exhausting day for all involved. The volunteers unload the truck, unpack the food, arrange it for distribution, bag up food, get boxes ready for loading, and then help folks get the much needed food to their cars.
By the time distribution day has ended, I am completed exhausted and emotionally spent. There is barely enough energy to make it back home. You see, my early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is an unforgiving foe when it comes to this type of effort. I pray for enough strength to make it through the afternoon and evening until the last family is served. Then I go home and collapse after we are finished. Even though I am tired, I am ever so grateful to have a wonderful house to go home to, a loving wife who prepares a meal for me, and food in our pantry so I never go hungry. This is not the case for so many of the people our food pantry serves.
Today’s passage reminds me why I pour myself out on food pantry days. Christ gives me strength and long ago He set the example of service I am to follow. Besides, when I help at the food pantry, I am touched by at least one incredible family who demonstrates remarkable determination in the face of unbelievable adversity. I am humbly encouraged to continue on because of their personal perseverance! I know that I help others on these days but I am also helped beyond measure as I pour myself out for others who have experienced far greater need than I may ever know.
No matter what you are facing, whether it is dementia, illness, job loss, relationship problems, or anything else, there is always someone who suffers more in life and needs your helping hand. By helping others, we not only extend the hand of Christ but we humble ourselves as we share in their lives. In essence we are loving our neighbors as we love ourselves which is exactly what Christ instructed us to do (Mark 12:31). Perhaps this is the heart of the message which the Apostle Paul was relaying to the saints in Rome in today’s passage.
As you go about your day today, ask God to give your strength, perseverance, and humility so you can help someone scale their wall of adversity and despair. Allow God to turn your foggy days into light by helping someone else. Then you will be loving and pleasing your neighbor just as Christ and His beloved Apostle Paul instructed.