by Carolyn Schmitt

But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it.Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. Matthew 6:3-4 GNT

As I pondered the words I highlighted in the above verse, I asked myself some questions.  

What does “needy” mean? By simple definition, it is: something wanted or required: Most often, I think it is taken to mean material necessities, but it also includes physical, mental, and emotional needs.

Who is a “needy“ person?  It’s easy to think it is someone else, but the truth is that I am needy in certain areas, too.

What does “private” matter mean? Simply defined it is: something that is not meant to be advertised or shared with others.

What does “help” mean?  It may mean to offer services or resources to aid someone to do something, or it may also mean listening, praying, and simply being present.

What does it mean that the Lord, the Father, “sees” what you do? As I’ve mentioned before, Psalm 139 is my go to for:  how the Lord sees, knows, and can’t be fooled by me or anyone.   

What does it mean that the Father will “reward” you?  Dictionary definition: “Reward” is a thing given as a recognition of one’s service, effort, or achievement.

But what if the Father’s reward is beyond things, like a closer relationship with him, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and more loving relationships with people, including even our enemies?

My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you.The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.
John 15:12-13 GNT

I think that we too often think of “laying down our life for someone” as doing something heroic.  But Jesus pointed out to me that it really has to do with my time.  

The time each of us spends doing tasks or services for someone, meeting or having phone conversations with someone, praying with or for someone, really means we are “laying down our lives” for them.  And the reverse is also true. They are, “laying down their lives” for us, too.  Because we can’t get a refund on time!

The Matthew scripture above mentions, “closest friend”.  Other than the Lord, my closest friend was my husband, Phil. I don’t think I ever knew all the quiet, caring things he did for people at work,  church, in our neighborhood or the surrounding area.  I do know that almost 16 years ago at his memorial service, around 700 people joined us to celebrate his life.  Phil would never have imagined what people, including young children, teenagers and adults of all ages shared about him that day.  

Phil’s love for Jesus and his trust in God’s promises showed on earth in his love for people.  I do know of some “rewards” that God gave to Phil through our children. 

Our daughter, Liesl, and Phil each had an appointment book in which they would record a time to have a “date”. They marked the day with a special sticker and called it their “Sticky Date”.  Even after she got married and after she and our son-in-law moved to Oregon, Liesl and Phil kept their “Sticky Dates”  by phone.

One morning Phil and I were in the kitchen talking with our, at the time, 20 year old son, Erich. Suddenly, Erich turned to Phil and said, “You know Dad, everything I understand about God as “Father”, I learned from watching and living with you.” Phil never expected such a treasure!

Jesus gives us a loving command about how we are to help each other as “needy” people.  Lord Jesus, help us be aware of and to be willing to serve each other as needs arise, quietly and lovingly. Amen!

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.