I Can’t Help You

Dan Hicks once sang a song entitled, “How can I miss you when you won’t go away?”  It is a funny song.  The answer to the song title is self-evident.

Let’s consider another question.  This time the question is about spiritual matters.  “How can I (or anyone) help you when you won’t help yourself?”  This is not funny, but serious.  The answer to this question is also self-evident.

Example: The preacher knows a new convert is a babe in Christ, weak and vulnerable.  A new convert needs to “desire the pure milk of the word, that (he) may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).  The concerned preacher tries to schedule continuing studies to help the new convert “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  However, the new convert never finds time.   The local church starts a new convert class.  However, this new convert does not attend.  The preacher knows by experience what happens to new converts that do not have the interest, and do not make the effort to grow.  The preacher wants to prevent this one from falling away, and sliding back into old habits.  The preacher wants to prevent this one from becoming another pew-warmer, who never lives up to his God-given potential (cf. Hebrews 5:12).  However, how can he help one who won’t help himself?

Example:  An eldership believes that there is a need to teach and preach on a certain subject.  They ask the Bible class teacher to address this subject in Bible class.  He spends several weeks teaching on this subject.  They ask the preacher to address this subject from the pulpit.  He does so, dedicating a few lessons to this subject.  However, the very ones which the elders thought most needed to hear this were so infrequent in attendance that most of the message missed them.  The assembly is an opportunity to “consider one another to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).  It is an opportunity for “edification and exhortation and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3, 26).  How can they help those who won’t help themselves?

Example: A church member is sincerely concerned about a woman who has been attending for a few months.  The woman thinks she is a member of the church.  The member is not so sure.  The woman was baptized by a community church preacher.  Moreover, when the member asked the woman when she became a Christian, the woman answered: “I think I have always been a Christian.  I felt that I was a Christian even in childhood.  There was no specific point in time when I can say I became a Christian. I have felt that I was a Christian as far back as I can remember”  This is not a Biblical answer, and this answer causes the member to have great concern (Acts 11:26 cf. Matthew 28:18-20).   The member lovingly expresses this concern, and asks if they could search the scriptures together (cf. Acts 17:11).  The member wanted them to reason together; after all, Christians should be ready to make a defense for the reason for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Peter 3:15).  The woman is not interested. She is not concerned enough to accept the offer.  How can he help her when she won’t help herself?

Example: A husband and wife starts attending.  They indicate that they were prompted to do so out of concern for their children.  So much time had been wasted!   They want their children to learn the Bible.  They want them to become Christians.  They want them to become good citizens.  This is what they say.  However, attendance is sporadic, at best.  Bible class attendance is even more so.  Moreover, They never take part in anything extra or in addition to the Sunday morning attendance (Vacation Bible School, youth devotionals and activities, Gospel meetings, Christian evidence seminars, fellowship gatherings in the homes of brethren etc.).  Furthermore, there is no regular family Bible study at home (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4).  How can we help those when you won’t help themself?

Example: A member is going through many financial and other difficulties. A deacon, who is in charge of benevolence, hears about this situation. He wants the church to help (cf. Acts 2:44-45; 4:34). However, the man distances himself from the church (Maybe this is due to embarrassment. However, there is the possibility and even signs which suggest that he has just left the faith.).  He avoids members. He stops attending. Brethren want to help, but can’t even make contact most of the time. When contact is made, he claims “all is o.k.” and that he needs no help. He also makes flimsy excuses as to why he has not attended.  How can the church help him when he won’t help himself?

It is frustrating.  It grieves my heart when some will not help themselves.  My hearts desire is to help. However, there are some I cannot help, because they will not help themselves. Life is brief. I plead with you, do not waste it.  “For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).  “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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