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Doing Good

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Php 2:3

A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to redo my office and study.  It had devolved into such dis-array I never wanted to come down here.  However, now that I, with the help of my family and Brandon, a good friend of our family, have been able to bring order out of chaos, I am back now doing some of things I love, reading, writing, and just enjoying quiet and de-stressing times at my desk.

While I was at a CVS pharmacy picking up some necessary supplies, I happened to walk by a small shelf of books.  As much as I love reading, I could not help but peruse the selections that were available.  Most of them were of no interest to me, but one happened to catch my attention.  The title is, “The Secret Holocaust Diaries, The untold story of Nonna Bannister”  I looked at the back cover and decided to purchase it.  When I arrived home, I started reading it.  I was captivated.  It recounts the story of Nonna Lisowskaja, a young girl from Russia who fled  Ukraine with her mother when Hitler invaded Russia.  They were hoping to safely leave by train after her father was savagely beaten and ultimately died at the hands of German soldiers.  Unfortunately, they were placed in a boxcar by the Germans and taken to a work camp as slaves.  I learned there were two classes of people who were taken captive by Hitler.  Eastern Europeans/Russians, and then the Jews.  The first group was treated better then the second, but that was not necessarily good.  I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in reading historical books focusing on the mid twentieth century.

After I finished the book, I decided to continue in this genre with “Anne Frank, the Biography”.  This goes beyond the Diary of Anne Frank and provides more detailed information regarding her upbringing, family and friends, and also  a much deeper look into the life of this remarkable young lady.  The book was fascinating, but what I found most interesting was the last three pages, which is a note from Miep Gies, the woman who took care of and provided all the Frank family needs as they were in the secret annex, which is what they called their place of hiding.  Following is a brief excerpt from this note.  The final question of this passage is what I wish to focus on.  But first, here is the excerpt:

“Over the past fifty years, ever since the publication of Anne Frank’s diary, I have been asked again and again how I found the courage to help the Franks.  This question, posed sometimes with admiration and sometimes with disbelief, has always made me uncomfortable.  Yes, of course it takes courage to do one’s duty as a human being, of course one has to be prepared to make certain sacrifices.  But that’s true in many of life’s situations.  Why then, I keep asking myself, do people ask such a question?  Why do so many hesitate when the time comes to help their fellow human beings?”  Miep Gies, January 1998 in Amsterdam, Note in Anne Frank, the Biography

That is a good question.  Why do people hesitate to help those in extremely difficult situations?  Why did so many German’s, Dutch, Russians, etc turn a blind eye to the atrocities being foisted upon the Jews, and many others during World War II?  I would say there were probably several reasons.  First, fear!  When the German’s started their systematic isolation and annihilation of the Jews, they made it illegal for anyone to aid or assist them in any way.  If anyone was caught helping a Jewish person, they were taken into custody and shipped to a labor or death camp, probably never to be seen again.  There was no grace or mercy.  If they only suspected you of assisting anyone, even with no proof, that was enough to be arrested.

Another reason, which goes along with the first, was the desire not to upset their own lives.  Why make their own lives difficult by helping the Jews?  If they just turned away and ignored their plight, they could shield themselves from the repercussions and not be affected by the things going on around them.  This is easily understandable.  However, the question I want to ask is, was it the right thing to do?  Let me put on here another quote from the note Miep wrote in 1998.

“When we are shocked to think that six million children, women, and men were driven to their deaths and we ask ourselves, “How could such a thing happen?”  we should keep in mind the indifference of normal human beings the world over, good, hardworking, and often God-fearing individuals.  Of course, it was the Nazi regime that was responsible for the mass murder, but if not for the apathy of people not just in Germany and Austria but everywhere –basically decent people, no doubt — the horrible slaughter could never have assumed the proportions it did.”  Miep Gies, January 1998 in Amsterdam, Note in Anne Frank, the Biography

After reading this, I have thought over and over about what I would do if I came face to face with pure evil.  How would I respond?  Would I cower in fear, or possibly ignore the plight of those being persecuted so that I could be protected?  I am afraid that if I were to act in my own strength, I would probably do both of the aforementioned actions.  That is why it is imperative that we draw our strength and courage from Christ.  Let His Spirit do the work through us.  As I watch the news, it is evident to me that Christianity is becoming less and less acceptable and tolerated, due to our Politically Correct (PC) society that says we cannot offend anyone, and that we are to be tolerant of all beliefs and practices held by everyone, except of course those who follow Christ.  Our Post-Modern society says that truth is not an absolute, but is relative to the society or culture that upholds them.  Soon, all things Christian will be questioned and frowned upon, while all other ideas are applauded.  And when the time comes, when the persecution and hatred of Christians become the norm, will we choose to stand with our brothers and sisters in trouble, or will we cower in fear, turn our heads and walk away.  If I walk away in order to avoid the persecution, I are saying by my actions that my life is of more importance than theirs.  That their comfort and peace, relative to mine, is incidental.  Unless God says, with no question, that we are to walk away, then we should stand with them, encouraging them by being willing to sacrifice for their well-being.  This is the right thing to do.  Jesus did not turn away from what He knew was right, and neither should we.

I want to encourage everyone who reads this, to pray often for those who are suffering under extreme persecution, famine, poverty or anguish.  And if it is in your power, take the time to make a difference either financially or with your hands and feet.  If you see someone in need, help them.  If you see someone mourning, comfort them.  If someone is lonely, take the time to visit them.  Sacrifice something, especially something you really enjoy, and make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.  Remember the words of Christ in the parable of the sheep and the goats.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’   “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Mat 25:31-45.  (Emphasis added)

 

Categories: Culture
  1. Jodi
    May 22nd, 2014 at 08:55 | #1

    William you have hit the nail on the head here. May I add a simple smile or hug also goes a long way to the downtrodden along our paths…sometimes the beauty in the smiles I receive back is tenfold…

    • May 23rd, 2014 at 18:57 | #2

      Thank you, Jodi. And I wholeheartedly agree that a simple smile or hug can make a tremendous difference in people. And God always rewards us for the good we do.

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