How Can I Help Save Others? (Y1.T2.D9)
Updated: Jan 23
Unsplash; "Natalie Grainger"
When I was 15, I became a certified lifeguard and learned how to save a drowning person. For the untrained, the Red Cross' instruction is, "Reach or throw, don't go! If someone is in trouble in the water, throw them a life preserver. Never go in!"
Good swimmers—with altruistic intentions—have been drowned by the person they were trying to rescue. Even for lifeguards, getting into the water to save someone is a last resort.
When the need arose, the first task was to keep our distance while encouraging the person to stay calm. If we got too close, a panicked person would try to use us as a floatation device. When that happened, we were taught the following:
Don't panic, the drowning person isn’t trying to hurt you.
Swim down—the deeper you go, the quicker the one who’s afraid of dying will let go.
Return to the victim and repeat the need for them to calm down.
Repeat until you can get them to turn around.
Place one arm over their chest and pull them to safety while you side stroke.
This idea of swimming away from our source of oxygen could be frightening and we practiced it until we knew we could handle even the strongest person.
This is also true for those of us who want to save someone's soul.
In today's passages, James and John asked Jesus if he wanted them to "command fire to come down from the sky and destroy" (Luke 9:54) the Samaritan villages that didn't receive the Savior.
Jesus' response was, "You don’t know of what kind of spirit you are. For the Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them" (Luke 9:55–56).
Saving souls also requires experience and some counter-intuitive thinking, like going deeper when a panicked swimmer has us in a chokehold. An inexperienced Christian might not understand why God doesn't just rain down fire on the unsaved.
James 3:1 warns us: "Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment." And we must "Give diligence to present [ourself] approved by God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
For those who've not been called to teach or preach, be assured: "As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10).
If you are gifted with hospitality or healing, the way you lead people to Christ will not look like mine. If you are gifted with tongues or discernment, the way you lead people to Christ might vary from that of your neighbor. We should remember:
There are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are various kinds of service, and the same Lord. There are various kinds of workings, but the same God, who works all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all. (1 Corinthians 12:4–7)
Ultimately, "Salvation belongs to the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).
Enhance My Ministry
51 It came to pass, when the days were near that he should be taken up, he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem 52 and sent messengers before his face. They went and entered into a village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for him. 53 They didn’t receive him, because he was traveling with his face set toward Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from the sky and destroy them, just as Elijah did?”
55 But he turned and rebuked them, “You don’t know of what kind of spirit you are. 56 For the Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
They went to another village. (Luke 9:51–56)
1 After these things, Jesus was walking in Galilee, for he wouldn’t walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. (John 7:1–2)
13 You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and from your wine press. 14 You shall rejoice in your feast, you, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your gates. 15 You shall keep a feast to Yahweh your God seven days in the place which Yahweh chooses, because Yahweh your God will bless you in all your increase and in all the work of your hands, and you shall be altogether joyful. (Deuteronomy 16:13–15)
3 His brothers therefore said to him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that your disciples also may see your works which you do. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, reveal yourself to the world.” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
6 Jesus therefore said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7 The world can’t hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it, that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, because my time is not yet fulfilled.”
9 Having said these things to them, he stayed in Galilee. 10 But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly, but as it were in secret. 11 The Jews therefore sought him at the feast, and said, “Where is he?” 12 There was much murmuring among the multitudes concerning him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others said, “Not so, but he leads the multitude astray.” 13 Yet no one spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews. 14 But when it was now the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How does this man know letters, having never been educated?”
16 Jesus therefore answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone desires to do his will, he will know about the teaching, whether it is from God, or if I am speaking from myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. 19 Didn’t Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill me?”
20 The multitude answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?”
21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work and you all marvel because of it. 22 Moses has given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a boy. 23 If a boy receives circumcision on the Sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me, because I made a man completely healthy on the Sabbath? 24 Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
25 Therefore some of them of Jerusalem said, “Isn’t this he whom they seek to kill? 26 Behold, he speaks openly, and they say nothing to him. Can it be that the rulers indeed know that this is truly the Christ? 27 However we know where this man comes from, but when the Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.”
28 Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know me, and know where I am from. I have not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you don’t know. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
30 They sought therefore to take him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 But of the multitude, many believed in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, he won’t do more signs than those which this man has done, will he?” 32 The Pharisees heard the multitude murmuring these things concerning him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.
33 Then Jesus said, “I will be with you a little while longer, then I go to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me, and won’t find me. You can’t come where I am.”
35 The Jews therefore said among themselves, “Where will this man go that we won’t find him? Will he go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What is this word that he said, ‘You will seek me, and won’t find me;’ and ‘Where I am, you can’t come’?”(John 7:3–36)
Mark 16:15 says I should go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. Show me what that looks like for my personal calling. I accept that sometimes I will plant seeds and other times I will water, but ultimately You will enable a heart to grow toward You (1 Corinthians 3:6–8). Help me be sanctified in my heart so I will be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks me why I have Your hope with humility and fear (1 Peter 3:15).
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