“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
I spent 5 1/2 years working as a social worker for Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS). I spent the longest portion of my career in a position called Ongoing CPS. During that time, I worked with all of the families determined to be at a high risk of continuing to experience child abuse/neglect. I spent 40+ hours a week dealing with the hardest, most complicated cases, trying to keep families intact while also trying to keep children from being abused or neglected again. These cases were usually not short term. On average, I worked with the families for about 1 1/2 to 2 years. To do that, I had to build genuine relationships with people; I had to truly care about each of the families with whom I worked and desire to help them. That was the only way to impact positive change.
This verse tells us to tirelessly “do good to all people.” Did you catch that? “All people.” I was cursed at, threatened, belittled, and kicked out of houses on a typical workday. Yet I had to keep going back and serving these individuals every day, sometimes for years.
About 3 years ago, after one incredibly hard day, I wrote this exact verse on a piece of paper and hung it on the wall in my office. I wanted to be able to see it as a gentle reminder not to give up, and that my efforts were not in vain. Weary is an understatement of how I felt that day. I had spent so much time trying to help one particular family, doing everything I could to try to help the parents, and prevent them from losing their children. Yet, there I found myself that day, standing on their lawn, when the parents made a poor decision that forced me to contact the police. The officer who arrived called for backup …the second officer who arrived called for backup …seven police officers later, the situation was under control.
When I plopped back down into my desk chair at the end of the day, I was questioning my entire career. Why did I bother? Why should I care? Why should I keep trying to help them or anyone else, for that matter?
The answer was simple. My job was my daily opportunity to “do good to all people”. The verse doesn’t say “do good to all people when it’s really easy and they’re nice.” I had a unique opportunity to affect those around me, just as you — regardless of your job or situation — have a unique opportunity to affect everyone with whom you come in contact.
This verse also places an emphasis on those already in the body of Christ. Many opportunities exist all around us to do good for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes we just get too caught up in what’s going on in our own lives to notice. Maybe it’s as simple as helping when someone in your small group needs a ride to the doctor, making a meal for the couple who just had a baby, or volunteering when the nursery leader mentions she needs help on Sundays. Maybe it means blessing someone with a car because you have two. Or maybe it means buying a bag of groceries and dropping them off on someone’s doorstep. It could even be as simple as inviting that person who seems a little lonely out to lunch with you. Our brothers and sisters should always know that they can count on their LightHouse family to be there for them.
I know helping others, giving your time and resources, isn’t easy. I know sometimes the recipient isn’t nice or even grateful. I know that you don’t always see results. Trust me, I get it. But that doesn’t mean you should stop. Don’t give up. Continue loving. Continue serving, Continue helping. When it’s not easy, it’s even more important and meaningful. One day you will reap the harvest of the seeds you have sown, and the kingdom of heaven will rejoice with you!
~ Brittany Ashley