The most difficult thing for some people to do is to ask for help. While in many instances it may be as a result of pride and a misappropriation of independence, this is not always the case. Many persons have simply grown tired of the emotional and psychological pain that accompanies rejection. Not all of us have been able to adequately distinguish between the denial of our request and the rejection of our person. To many of us, it is one and the same.
I am quite certain that you too would be very familiar with the gnawing feeling of despair we get when we need help urgently and there is no one willing or able to assist. On the other hand, think of how great the feeling of relief is, when you receive much-needed assistance, especially from an unexpected source.
“How may I help you?” articulates an offer to assist someone who appears to be in need. It does not assume to know what is required, but rather, solicits an invitation to get involved in a specific way. To the person in need at the time, this expression of care can go a long way in communicating sincerity and building trust. It says that you value their independence and respect their right to choose to be assisted in ways your help would be most appreciated.
Rendering assistance to others is at the heart of our Christian witness. In the book of Proverbs, we are taught that we should be prompt when reaching out to assist others. “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” (Prov. 3:27,28) We must not, therefore, be unwilling to lend a helping hand to those who are genuinely in need. And we ought not to unduly delay it either. The need may not necessarily be for a handout, most times it’s a “hand up” that’s required and this can take various forms. “How may I help?” may define it.
Now, when Jesus gave the parable of the certain Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) the scenario did not facilitate inquiry. The traveller, a victim of a robbery and brutal beating, was left unconscious and practically dead. In this context the need was obvious. Prompt action and initiative were required. But the key point that Jesus wanted to communicate in this story, was the fact that those who would naturally be expected to be kind, considerate and helpful, are the ones who, somehow, are most disappointing. In the parable, it was the priest and the Levite. In our lives, it may be our family and friends. To those closest to us, it may be us.
These five little words “How may I help you?” can have a tremendous impact on our interpersonal relationships, as well as our relationship with the Lord. In this regard, let us take seriously the Apostle Paul’s admonition in Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith”.