Christians often feel a responsibility to help others God places in their path. Many times, the benefits of that assistance can be readily seen; the person we help thanks us and uses our assistance to better their lives in some way.
In those situations, we naturally feel satisfied that we have done something God would want us to do.
Other times, however, we don’t see the benefit of our assistance. Perhaps we see someone take our assistance and use it wrongly, or solve their problem but then go right back into the same situation again. That can leave us feeling used and we may be less likely to help that person — or anyone else, for that matter — in the future.
Years ago, Kent Keith wrote a wonderful poem entitled “Anyway,” which I believe gives us a way to reframe these internal conversations and why we help people in the first place.
Keith’s words were later rephrased by Mother Teresa. Here is what they wrote:
“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.”
The Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi, installed member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, is pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, Springfield.