Oct 052011

I received the following comment on my posts on my posts on “things we learned while moving” (see Post #1 and Post #2):

Anne says -

Maybe the lesson is in reciprocity. What have you done for people locally in the personal sense? Whom have you helped move? I know you have young kids, but everyone has something. If you don’t put yourself out there to help others, don’t be surprised if they don’t put themselves out there for you.

I started to answer several times, focusing on various aspect of the topic that she raised. Finally, I decided it would be easier to make it a post of its own.

The first point is just sort of a detail:

The entire point of the second post (where the comment was actually left), is that I am not connected to people locally.

So, yeah. I haven’t heard of anyone moving, for instance…

The second thing I started thinking was a silly desire to defend myself from what felt like an unjust attack:

No, I haven’t helped anyone move (see above), but we do help people.

I volunteered in the church nursery all last year, I taught at VBS this summer, Wolf has helped several guys with their car problems, Nick serves with youth ministry projects, we donate our hand-me-downs to worthy causes…

But wait a minute, I don’t need to justify myself! That’s the whole point (or two).

The third thought that started developing was that that attitude is WRONG!

In fact, I think that attitude is perhaps at the very core of the problem!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not at all saying that I don’t need to give, do, or help. Of course I do! The Bible says so!

BUT, this is about the Church, not a business venture.

Did somebody check to see if I had deposited enough hours in the “volunteer bank” to be considered worthy of making a withdrawal (getting help moving)? Had I earned it?


It says, “bearing one another’s burdens in love” … Not, “helping bear the burdens of people you think are cool, who have previously helped you bear your burdens”.


Which leads right in to the fourth thought:

What truth there is the idea of “reciprocity”, it’s still supposed to be… well, not “reciprocity” per se.

“Pay it Forward” is better. Sure, do good. But not back to the person who helped you out.

If you get the praises of man for your good deed, then you’ve had your reward, and the Father will not reward you!

So unless I have helped you move, you probably don’t know much about the service that I have done. (I didn’t even list those types of things in my first point above, and it’s one reason I didn’t go out of the way to mention the names of the folks who helped us with the move.)

“Reciprocity” reminds me of the recipe for failure in the popular and true adage about marriage:

50/50 will never work. It has to be 100/100.

We are the Body of Christ.

Had any of the people that Christ healed helped Him out previously?

Were most of them probably “worthy” of His time and assistance?

That’s us, friends…

  8 Responses to “More on Moving Lessons”

  1. While it is nice to have help moving, it’s not a need. Perhaps other locals were out in their community serving actual needs instead of helping you. Perhaps families were helping elderly clean up their yards in preparation of a tropical storm. Or perhaps they had their own littles that common sense told them not to take out into a storm.

    I think you confuse need with want. While helping each other is always God’s work, whether it be a need or want or a random kindness, it’s really entitled of you to think that your “need” should take precedence in people’s lives beyond all the other actual needs and family time.

    And if you continually whine about the lack of help you received, yes, you do need to justify yourself. Better yet, you need to take a long hard look at if your expectations of others is reasonable. Relationships do require reciprocity. Charity does not.

    • Wow, you are making A LOT of assumptions there…

      You don’t know all the details of my situation, or what help I asked for or received.

      And you seem to continue to miss the main point of my post, which was not about my “whining” about a lack of help, but rather an observation about the Body of Christ.

      Your last paragraph is confusing, since you make the very point I was trying to make, as though you were explaining something new to me: This is an example of Christian Charity (or lack thereof), *not* of relationship. (Hence my entire post discussing the unusual fact that most of my relationships are online people who are not local, and thus unable to help…)

      I wonder if you have some other motive or agenda here? Or perhaps are missing my point about Christian community and service for some other reason?

  2. What happened to the old “if you have noting nice to say….”?

    • Anne,
      I don’t understand the tit for tat reasoning, so in order to get help for a move I have to help someone move?
      So, let’s say cooking dinner for them during a sickness is not on the same level? or not good enough?
      Are we going to start adding $$$ to our Charitable works/deeds?
      “I made you dinner for your family which adds up to $25″ so you should at least do this_____ 3 times for me.”
      Just my humble opnion

  3. Tiffany, you make good and very valid points! I found myself in a similar situation recently and found that I had very few friends that helped. David had just “finally” gotten work..it was off out of town..we found out that same weekend that we HAD to be out of the house in 2 weeks (just me and the kids to do this). I feel your frustration and pain..and the ones that helped us? ALL from our local homeschool group…NONE from our church!

    @Anne, Frankly I find your ideas of “reciprocity” a bit daunting. I’d hate to think that that was the only way someone would help me or that I would help them. That is NO way Christian to determine if someones plea for help or assistance is a need or a want! What may be a WANT for one person, may actually truly be a NEED for another!

    I have found over the years, we’ve had several moves..all of which have required assistance…and it’s been our friends (but never anyone from our church)..this saddens me to a great extent..especially when the Christian Charity should start there…

    Helping someone isn’t about getting paid, what they’ve done for you, etc..etc.. It’s about doing something for others, putting them before yourself, doing what is RIGHT and GOOD in God’s eyes..not making judgements or assumptions.

  4. Is there a HELP meter or something that I’m not familiar with where depending on what the need is it ranks higher than others with a value placed upon it? Please Anne if you have this important information share it because we are all unaware of these rules!

    This circumstance was a TRUE need for Tiffany’s family at that time! What happened to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? I would want my church family to step up and help me regardless of what type of need it was! I would want people that I know, whether intimately or just as acquaintances, to step in and realize that my family needed help and be willing to do just that….HELP regardless of the “value” of the need!

    If you are keeping tabs on what your friends do for you and what you MUST do for them in return to pay them back, you are not in true friendship. Friendship doesn’t require equal payment into the relationship. You help when you can with no expectations.

  5. Sorry for the bad moving experience…it is tough moving. We are preparing to move to another house locally, around the holiday season…YUCK. We have already had offers of help when that dreaded day comes…a few Moms to keep the kiddos (we have four little ones) and the Dads to help us move. We have been blessed to have been apart of our church for many years…20 years for me and 15 for my hubby…we met and married there…they are our family. ALL of our closest friends are apart of our church family…our kids are the same ages and are friends as well. We see them and do things together weekly and many of them multiple times a week. It is difficult to to make good lasting friends in this situation. We do not belong to a specific homeschool group but know many home schooling families…which are also friends from Church or ministry groups (Upward, especially).

    Maybe homeschool families are more sensitive to needs of others because they have been in so many situations before. Also maybe, they have learned that time and tasks are meant to be flexible and are able to “roll with the punches” so to speak.

    Moving is no fun and most people don’t want to move themselves and are more reluctant to helping someone else move :(

    You are right, we as the Body of Christ need to be helping our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have all gotten so wrapped up in our issues that we fail to see the needs of others. (I’ve been there and been extremely humbled by realizing this.) We also assume ‘someone else’ will help. Which is a wrong and lazy excuse for not doing what we are called to do…HELP.

    Maybe for the next move you should be extremely direct and flat out ask a specific person to help with specific needs. It is much more difficult to say no to a direct question versus a general plea for help.

    • Great thoughts, Kelly!

      One thing in particular in what you said stuck me — the assumption that “someone else will do it.” They have sad documentaries about crimes that take place (slowly, even) in front of many witnesses, but nobody steps in to stop it… So sad!

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