A friend from grade school asked me to come visit her after school. I got permission from my parents to visit my friend then I visited my new friend.
She was a cheerful person. I got to her home finding things in her home were not the same as things at my home.
I don’t know what prompted us to walk into the kitchen but I was surprised when we got there. The kitchen had dishes piled up higher than I had ever remembered seeing dishes piled up before. I also don’t know why I made a decision and had time to start washing those dishes but I did that. I’m pretty sure that from that day forward I disliked seeing dirty dishes piled up on the counter. Dishes are a lot harder to get cleaned up if there are so many dirty dishes lying around that there is hardly any space to get the sink clean and cleared out to add clean water. The job is also more difficult if there is hardly any room to rinse the dishes once they are washed. Finding a spot to put the cleaned dishes can be another problem. It can take hours to get a kitchen looking spiffy once the dirty things are put in a large pile. One of the other problems with dirty dishes that are piled up is created when the dirty dishes sit too long before they get cleaned. It takes a lot more work to clean dishes that have had food dried or hardened on the surface. Pots and pans used to be a lot harder to clean, too.
My friend’s Mother must have told my Mother that I had done the dishes at their home. Instead of saying anything nice about what I had done my Mother sort of scolded me for doing dishes at someone else’s home because she felt I should do the same thing at our home. I did share the work of doing the dishes at our home. My Mother didn’t realize that our home was a lot different than my new friend’s house.
How could my Mother understand what it was like for a single woman to take care of several children, go to work five days a week, and have to live in an apartment? How could my mother know what it was like for a woman that may have been abandoned by her husband?
My Mother was blessed with four children who had been taught to help with the dishes and we were encouraged to share the responsibility of doing those dishes. Mom had my Dad in the house to help back up some of the rules.
When I grew to be a teen I was given some babysitting jobs. Almost every time I was placed as a babysitter for a single parent something was piled up somewhere. If it wasn’t dishes piling up it could have been laundry piled up. There may have been laundry and dishes piled up in some homes.
I didn’t understand until I got older that the problems that some of the single women had were problems that were larger than a huge pile of dishes.
The women I was meeting were women who were surviving the best way they knew to survive even though they didn’t have a lot of support. They may have had people bombarding them with blame because of the position they were in. They definitely had to carry a heavy load. They didn’t have the comfort of a husband that was dedicated to helping them have a home. They didn’t have a husband that was going to listen to them and help them figure out the best way to deal with problems they may have had with the children, the schools, or at the workplace. It’s quite possible they suffered a divorce because their former husbands were abusive, neglectful, or busy with other women.
I looked at my tiny pile of dishes today as I placed them in the dishwasher. My memory went into that mode of seeing a large pile of dishes sitting all over the counter at a friend’s house when I was quite young. Then my mind went from thinking of those soiled dishes to pondering on how many problems women who get things piled up have.
I also recall that the friend who invited me to her home didn’t seem to be bothered by the multitude of dirty dishes. That’s how things were in her home. She was friendly, she was kind, she invited me to her home. She was also very fortunate because her mother did find the funds to get things cleaned up at the laundry. The whole family had clean clothing to wear and everything else was organized at their home. I was sad when their family moved to another area.
I asked the Lord how this memory from the past could be used to share a good message that needs shared.
One thing that seemed to stand out to me after I pondered on this story from my past was to recall how God wants us to help one another. Our hands are meant to be used to do good things. We are not supposed to stand idly by doing nothing when there is something good we can do to help other people.
I also realized that my Mother was trying to make sure I didn’t neglect my responsibilities at home if I was going to visit other people. She was right to remind me of my duties at home. It wouldn’t have harmed anything if she had taken a moment to remind me that God does want us to do good things for other people, too, if we’ve taken care of things in our own home. Maybe my Mother was too worn out to talk more about the subject at the time. Even though Mom had more support and help than my friend’s Mother had my Mother did work outside of the home a lot, too. My Mother did talk about the importance of getting priorities straight. She may not have used those words but she was right to teach us that each person has their own responsibilities to tend to. It isn’t right for a family to neglect their own family members while they take care of other people.
Doing nice things for others is doing something greater than picking up some dishes and washing them. It’s also nice to try to understand what the other person is going through. It’s wrong to step in and start putting people down who are basically forced to live differently than you live because they don’t have the same advantages that you have.
I’ve also found that some people who are less fortunate can get offended if you try to give them things because it may make them feel as though you are belittling them. They could have had severe experiences with neighbors or peers that said harmful things to them about their situation in the past. When you see a need it’s probably best to begin asking the Lord what he wants you to do to be helpful. Be willing to do whatever you know is the right thing to do. It’s also wise to understand that there may be times when God wants you to pray because he plans on using a group of people to help those who are in need of help.
I am convinced that no matter how much you do you will never be able to give more than God gives you. I am also sure that every Christian needs to recall that we are not saved by works. Remain humble and let all you do be done to give glory to God. It’s wrong to do things just to get some sort of kudos from other people. It’s nice when people say thank-you and they let you know they appreciate kind things you’ve done but definitely wrong if you’re motivated to do good things just so men can know you’ve done good things. God sees everything. God’s favor should be desired.
There are other ways that people have been put down by their fellow man. Some people do not get the luxury of attending college for various reasons. It is very sad to report but it is a true report. I have heard and seen how some highly educated people look down upon people that have not attended college. They really should not be so high minded about their own education. Looking down on anyone that has less wealth or education than you have is an ugly thing to do.
James Chapter 2 speaks of how favoritism is forbidden.
James 2 (NIV)
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.