We all have such people in our lives. They demand more from the relationship than they ever return. Their contribution seems to be almost nothing compared to what they expect from you. These people may be irritating and obnoxious. We often wish we could run away from such people. But God has placed them there in our lives for a special purpose.
These people act the way they do because of their brokenness. There are various issues within them that have never been addressed. For many who are believers, the Holy Spirit is working on them, but the work is gradual. For some, that work is a lifelong process.
Recently I read the words Jesus spoke to his disciples just before miraculously feeding more than 5,000 people: “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16) With so many people to feed, the need was more than they could handle. They wanted to send the people away. Although that situation was regarding food, the concept is valid for people with any need.
Our natural reaction would be to stay away from such people, or “send them away.” But as Kingdom people, we are to care for others and respond to their true need. First, we are to care for the community of faith, then others around us who are needy.
Of course, when people have needs that are beyond our capabilities and need professional help, it is good to refer them to others who are more qualified to help. But most of the time, a word of encouragement, prayer, and your gentle voice is crucial for their healing.
But these needy people will often seem like a bother to us, and we may respond as the disciples did. We get tired of their neediness. We may begin to see them as parasites, always taking but never giving.
Relationships with such people definitely seem like a one-way street when they are always on the receiving end and you are on the giving end. These are the type of relationships that we want to pull away from.
At this point Jesus says to us “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” At another time Jesus said “Truly I say to you, as you did to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)
What an opportunity to serve our Master as we serve the needy around us.
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Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.
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