I'm one of those people who, when I get a song stuck in my head, it just stays there. Right now, a popular song from the early 70's, "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers, keeps going through my mind. I hum the melody and sing a line here and a line there.
There's a lot of wisdom in that song and it made me think of how we are to relate to one another as followers of Yahweh and believers in Messiah. We live in a culture where self-reliance and rugged individualism are viewed as traits to be admired and consequently those who need help are viewed as weak and dependent, sometimes even as parasites. GIVERS: People invariably feel good about helping someone "less fortunate" or in need. In fact, Yahshua admonishes us that the sheep on His right hand will be those who are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking in strangers, visiting the sick. For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me; Matthew 25:35 - 36.
RECEIVERS: What about the other side of that equation? What if we are the one who is in need? For everyone, everyone who feeds the hungry, there must be someone who needs food and will accept the gift. For everyone who visits the sick, there must be someone who is ill and will accept the visit and encouragement. Just as we can hide our lamp (good works) under a bushel (Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven, (Matthew 5:16), we can also hide our needs because of embarrassment or pride. Sometimes people will say "I don't want to burden anyone" or "I'll be OK, I'll get by." Bill Withers had some important advice for believers when he wrote: Lean on me, when you're not strong And I'll be your friend I'll help you carry on For it won't be long 'Til I'm gonna need Somebody to lean on. This is what Yahshua was talking about when He said: Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I shall give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your beings. For My yoke is gentle and My burden is light, Matthew 11:28 - 30.
Givers and Receivers Each of us are both givers and receivers of assistance. If we receive something from someone we are also a giver. We are giving our brother or sister the opportunity to serve. Sometimes brethren have the mistaken attitude of refusing what they view as charity, believing that accepting charity makes them dependent or weak. The "pride of the poor" is viewed by some as noble and self-reliant, but is it really? The song continues: Please swallow your pride If I have things you need to borrow For no one can fill those of your needs That you won't let show Pride Pride's a tough one for many of us. Most of us, when we think of prideful people, we think of those who boast about wealth or they flaunt some physical attributes like outward beauty or strength to draw attention to themselves. As believers, we think we would never behave that way, the way that people in the world behave. Is it possible though that we are still struggling with pride and that it manifests itself in a more subtle way? All of us have human nature that we battle and sometimes we believe our behavior may be righteous, but if we take a closer look at ourselves, it may be stubbornness and pride.
The Importance of the Assembly; The first century assembly set us a tremendous example: And all those who believed were together, and had all in common, and sold their possessions and property, and divided them among all, as anyone might have need. And day by day, continuing with one mind in the Set-apart Place, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising Elohim and having favor with all the people. And the Master added to the assembly those who were being saved, day by day, Acts 2:44 – 47. People gave, people accepted help as they had need. What if those who had need were too proud to ask for help? What if they wouldn't accept help when it was offered? Sha'ul (Paul) admonishes us: And let us be concerned for one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging, and so much more as you see the day coming near, Hebrews 10:24 – 25. Being concerned for one another begins when we worship and break bread together. When we have regular worship and fellowship and meals with one another, we learn about each other and how we can help and serve. We can also begin to trust one another when we need help and to allow a brother to share our burden, without fear of being judged. We can put aside that feeling of self consciousness and embarrassment about our own struggles. Isn't that really just pride, when it comes right down to it? We can't really develop that trust with the brethren, if we stay home and keep the Sabbath by watching a service on the internet. We might gain a lot of biblical knowledge, or learn the nuances of Hebrew words. But what about putting that knowledge to work with our relationships with each other? That's why we're commanded (not suggested) to assemble together for worship. We really need personal contact with each other. Yahshua set us an example of service when He taught us to wash one another's feet. How could we do that if one would not allow us to serve them? When we're in regular contact with each other, the barriers come down and people are more readily willing to accept help. Consequently, if we're the one needing the help, we feel more comfortable accepting the assistance.
Kěpha (Peter) said to Him, “By no means shall You wash my feet, ever!” Yahshua answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me,” John 13:8. When Yahshua explained what He meant by washing the disciples feet He said: So when He had washed their feet and taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Master, and you say well, for I am. Then if I, Master and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example, that you should do as I have done to you,” John 13:12 - 15. The example goes both ways though. Not only are we to wash one another's feet (serve each other), we are also to allow our feet to be washed (accept the service of another). Accepting the gift of service from a brother is as much of an act of service as the gift itself. Would we want to deny a brother or sister a chance to be of service? When we are in regular fellowship with each other though, we can begin to trust one another that the service offered is from the heart and not meant to exalt one’s self or belittle the one receiving it. Isn't that why sometimes people don't want to accept help? They feel like the one offering it just wants to feel superior to them, or they feel less righteous for needing the help. When we're meeting at a minimum every Sabbath, hopefully more frequently, we, (hopefully) get to know one another on a deeper more personal level. We see that we all have trials that we're struggling with. We all have sins that we are battling to overcome. These trials and sins manifest themselves in different ways in different believers but we all have them. When we see that in each other, we are then moved by YAHWEH's Spirit to try to help. Sometimes that help might be for physical needs, or prayer for healing or to overcome a trial. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, so that you are healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous one accomplishes much, James 5:16. If we say that we have no sin, we are misleading ourselves, and the truth is not in us, 1 John 1:8.
The Song Continues: You just call on me brother, when you need a hand We all need somebody to lean on I just might have a problem that you'll under- stand We all need somebody to lean on Lean on me, when you're not strong And I'll be your friend I'll help you carry on For it won't be long 'Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on Proverbs 17:17; A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity... You just call on me brother, when you need a hand We all need somebody to lean on I just might have a problem that you'll under- stand We all need somebody to lean on Proverbs 27:17; Iron is sharpened by iron, and a man sharpens the face of his friend... If there is a load you have to bear That you can't carry I'm right up the road I'll share your load.
Our need may not be a physical one; maybe it’s a spiritual battle we're fighting alone. Some people are battling to overcome hurts and scars they suffered as children or as adults who made a lot of mistakes before they were called. Some people are battling loneliness and isolation. Some people are battling sins like pornography or coveting or bitterness or anger. Sometimes people are too proud to let a brother or sister help them through that. When we begin to trust each other though, that's when the real healing can take place as Almighty Father Yahweh brings us all together as the Body of Messiah. For I say, through the favor which has been given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he should think, but to think soberly, as Elohim has given to each a measure of belief. For as we have many members in one body, but all members do not have the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Messiah, and members each one of one another, Romans 12:3 – 5. And may the Elohim of patience and encouragement give to you to mind the same thing among one another according to Yahshua Messiah, that with one accord and with one mouth you may glorify the Elohim and Father of our Master Yahshua Messiah. Because of this, be friendly, and bear one another’s burdens as Messiah also brought us close to the glory of Elohim, Romans 15:5 – 7. For, brothers, you were called to liberty. Only do not use this liberty for an opening to the flesh. But through love serve one another, Galatians 5:13.
We All Are A Work In Progress, and at different times in our walk we may have different gifts and different needs. Look at our teacher, the apostle Sha'ul (Paul). He was a man who thought he had everything; position, power, prestige and knowledge. In an instant, he became blind and helpless and needed to be led by the hand to safety. Our trials may not be that dramatic, but they can be just as debilitating. Someone who is just being called into the truth may need a lot of help at first. If they are wise and humble, they will accept help from brethren who are more established. Often times, those Yahweh calls are people who are broken, and hurt and need help physically as well as spiritually. For look at your calling, brothers, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble. But Elohim has chosen the foolish matters of the world to put to shame the wise, and Elohim has chosen the weak of the world to put to shame the strong. And Elohim has chosen the low-born of the world and the despised, and the ones that are not, that He might bring to naught the ones that are, so that no flesh should boast in His presence. And of Him you are in Messiah יהושע (Yahshua) Who became for us wisdom from Elohim, righteousness also, and set-apartness and redemption, that, as it has been written, “He who boasts, let him boast in YAHWEH,” 1 Corinthians 6:26 – 31.
Almighty Father Yahweh doesn't expect us to stay this way though. He has big plans for us and He expects us to grow. Just as our brother and teacher Sha'ul (Paul) didn't stay blind and helpless; we are to make progress in this spiritual journey. But grow in the favor and knowledge of our Master and Savior Yahshua Messiah. To Him be the esteem both now and to a day that abides. Aměn, 2 Peter 3:18. So, as an example, it may be that we find ourselves as someone who has just learned that the Scriptures teaches us to tithe on our income. Our human nature and prideful self might be tempted to think, "I can't do that!" I already have too much month at the end of my paycheck. But, one who is wise might confide in a brother or sister who has been through this trial before and ask for help. “How can I possibly do this? How did you do it?” They might find that brother is able to help them prioritize their spending, maybe help them find a better paying job, or a way to reduce expenses. Certainly the brother could pray with us about it. Many times, Yahweh blesses our efforts and provides a way for us. As we are obedient to Him, and we step out in faith and strive to be a part of the body, YAHWEH is able to help us according to His will. And in the same way the Spirit does help in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray, but the Spirit Himself pleads our case for us with groanings unutterable. And He Who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the set-apart ones according to Elohim. And we know that all matters work together for good to those who love Elohim, to those who are called according to His purpose. Because those whom He knew beforehand, He also ordained beforehand to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, for Him to be the first-born among many brothers. And whom He ordained beforehand, these He also called, and whom He called, these He also declared right. And whom He declared right, these He also esteemed. What then shall we say to this? If Elohim is for us, who is against us? Romans 8:26 – 31. Therefore, let us come boldly to the throne of favor, in order to receive compassion, and find favor for timely help, Hebrews 4:16. And to Him who is able to do exceedingly above what we ask or think, according to the power that is working in us, to Him be esteem in the assembly by Messiah Yahshua unto all generations, forever and ever. Aměn, Ephesians 3:20 – 21. Almighty Father YAHWEH's desire for us is to live with Him throughout all eternity. He desires that we come together as His children and become the place where He can dwell. So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the set-apart ones and members of the household of Elohim, having been built upon the foundation of the emissaries and prophets, Yahshua Messiah Himself being chief corner-stone, in Whom all the building, being joined together, grows into a set-apart Dwelling Place in יהוה (Yahweh) in Whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of Elohim in the Spirit, Ephesians 2:19 – 22. And I appeal to you, brothers, by the Name of our Master Yahshua Messiah, that you all agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be knit together in the same mind and in the same opinion, 1 Corinth 1:10. Brethren, when we lean on each other, when we support one another, when we come together as an assembly, we are doing what Almighty YAHWEH has created us to do: To love one another, to serve one another, to be served by one another, and to share one another's burdens and trials, to grow together. So lean on me and let me lean on you. Together, we'll be in YAHWEH's Kingdom. HalleluYah!