Melvin Newland tells a touching story that comes out of the Special Olympics several years ago.
Enthusiasm and excitement filled the air as these special needs children enjoyed athletic competition but also the camaraderie of being with each other. One event was the 220 yard dash. The contestants lined up, and at the signal they began running as fast as they could.
One little boy, Andrew, quickly took a commanding lead. As he rounded the final turn, he looked over his shoulder and saw his best friend had fallen down.
Andrew stopped. Looked at the finish line. Then looked back at his friend.
People were hollering, “Run. Andrew. Run.”
But he didn’t.
He went back. Helped up his friend. And together they crossed the finish line. Dead last.
Newland said, “The people cheered, because there are some things more important than finishing first.”
This story may be fictional. I don’t know. But it makes several good points.
(1) People matter.
People matter to God. He cared enough to create us in His own image and after His own likeness. He loved us enough send Jesus on a rescue mission from heaven to earth to save us from our sins.
People should matter to us. Our friends. Our family. Our neighbors. Our brethren. Life is about people. Relationships. Fellowship. Friendship. Much of the instruction in the Bible speaks to our treatment of people. The Golden Rule (Matt 7:12 The Second Great Commandment (Matt 22:39). And the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37). These passages shout, “People matter!”
(2) Be a friend. Lift up the fallen.
The wise man wrote, “Two are better than one… If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Eccl. 4:9-10).
Everyone falls or gets knocked down. Sooner or later. What a great thing it is to have a friend to lift us up. To help us get back on our feet. And on track again to run the Christian race.
That said, shouldn’t we all be that friend? Hurting, fallen people are everywhere. In our communities. In our churches. Maybe even in our own homes. To whom can you extend a helping hand?
(3) Truly helping others begins with caring.
We’ve all experienced some act of kindness from someone, but they did it out of obligation. It may have been a look, a sigh, or a mumbled word of aggravation. But, we felt it. The good deed was done. But it didn’t feel genuine. Sincere. Or sympathetic.
Paul paid a great compliment to Timothy when he told the Philippian brethren. “I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state”(Phil 2:21). Timothy was a man of character. Compassion. And sincerity. He cared. So should we.
When we care about others, we forget about ourselves. Our needs. Our desires. And our agenda. The finish line of our immediate goal becomes secondary. This happens when we are willing to “esteem others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3). To do that, we must follow Paul’s advice to the Corinthians to cease their selfish bickering and show “the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:26).
The oft-repeated platitude, attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, still rings true, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman