A Question That’s Never Inappropriate

People ask really cringe-worthy questions of each other all the time, have you noticed?conversation

“Are you pregnant or just putting on weight?”

“What kind of money do you make in that job?”

“You look good… Botox?”

“You’re leaving the ministry? Isn’t that like getting a divorce from God?”

“Why are you still single?”

“What caused your marriage to end; didn’t you try hard enough?”

“Is that a toupee?”

I used to think when I was asked something inappropriate, if I responded, “Excuse me?” the person would repeat the question, hear how outrageous it sounded, and maybe decide to withdraw it.

I’ve found that almost never works.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus was surrounded constantly by nosy, irritating, rude people, so I’m pretty sure He must have heard His share of stupid, insensitive questions. He had to take evasive action just for a little peace and quiet; once He even had to get in a boat and go out on a lake just to get away from the crush.

Yet from what I’ve read in the Bible, He didn’t get annoyed with people and make them repeat their questions like I do. In Matthew 9:36,  it says, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

There are so many things we shouldn’t ask each other, but there is at least one question I think is never inappropriate and I think Jesus would agree. (In fact, I think He probably would welcome hearing it, too.) It’s this: “How can I help?”

Of course, those are just empty words unless we mean them and meaning them can be costly. You might be asking someone who just took on a huge project and is looking for long-term volunteers or big donors (or both). Or it may be someone who needs more than just need help moving some boxes or planning a party; maybe they’re at their wits’ end, with overwhelming problems. An offer to help could be a big commitment.

In any case, it’s sure to require time, energy, or money.

We tend to avoid “complicated”; we’re so busy and over-scheduled. It takes far less less of an emotional toll and allows us to maintain more control when we stay at a surface level with people and leave the rest to the “professionals”.

It’s true, we’re all responsible for stewarding our time and resources wisely, whether emotional or financial. Showing genuine compassion, taking an interest and then seeing it through – all that is life-giving … and inconvenient. It involves giving up a part of ourselves and entering another’s messiness. There’s the possibility we might get hurt in the process.

But if you’ve ever been in need, brokenhearted, or saddled with a burden you can hardly bear and someone asked you sincerely how they could help, didn’t you feel a little less alone and maybe a bit more hopeful? And if you really care about someone, isn’t that what you would want for them?

Despite the risks, when we step up to help one another, surely Christ smiles. He ached for the lost and helpless crowds and longed to gather them as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. No doubt, He is thrilled when we follow His example and reach out in love.

“How can I help?” It’s never an inappropriate question. It’s costly, yes. But it’s kind, it’s Christlike, and it rarely makes people cringe.

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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

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