I’ve always considered myself to be a helpful person. Having a baby? I’ll bring a meal. Need a hand tidying up your house? I’ve got a Swiffer with your name on it and an insane addiction for clean floors. Celebrating a birthday? Say no more…your party planner is here.
I love helping people. But recently I discovered that my ability to help is directly linked to my level of convenience. If I have the time, energy and willingness to do something, then helping comes very easy. If I don’t, well…there’s a good chance you won’t be getting that homemade spinach lasagna anytime soon.
This really hit home for me though when my husband came to me with a need. A need to pursue a healthier lifestyle and get back to his fighting weight. Eating clean and healthy can be a real challenge for us because we are foodies at heart, with our three favorite food groups being: doughy, crispy, and chocolaty.
Nonetheless, I gave him an enthusiastic, “Yes! Let’s do this!” I wanted to help. But barely a few days into our health adventure I made the suggestion that we needed a cheat. How about some fast food and ice cream? In just eight words, I had turned from being a helpmate to a hurtmate.
I wasn’t intentionally trying to hurt him…but if I had really stopped to think it through, I would have recognized that I was speaking from a place of inconvenience on my part, expressing my heart’s desires and not his. If I really wanted to help him, then that suggestion should have never left my mouth. This diet thing was no longer convenient for me, so let’s all go down in a blaze of glory, shall we?
The Apostle Paul had a very similar conversation with the church in Corinthians. In the process of exercising their freedoms, they were causing others to stumble. Paul had to remind them that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
“ ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
So what does this mean for me? Am I free to eat ice cream at my discretion and choose to supersize that meal? Absolutely. But when my freedom is directly responsible for derailing someone else, I’ve crossed the line to hurting, not helping.
Heck, if we all stopped and began putting others first and acting in their best interests, that means that we’ll receive the same treatment too. Someone else will be looking out for us. We all win when we work for the good of others.
As soon as I realized the error of my ways, I quickly texted my husband and told him to scrap the fast food run. I would have chicken and veggies waiting for him at home.
Turns out it was one of our best dinners ever. Not only did we physically feel better by choosing a healthier alternative, but my heart felt better. Doing the right thing—doing what’s best for others—always does.