In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” a group of 8 soldiers, led by Captain Miller (played by Tom Hanks), were on a mission to save Private Ryan. During the mission, the team debated over whether they should even save Private Ryan. Ultimately, to save one man, it cost the lives of 6 soldiers, including Tom Hanks himself. At the end of the movie, we are left wondering: was it worth saving Private Ryan?
Many times in our own lives, when we have the opportunity to help others, we may ask ourselves the same question: is it worth it? It might be an opportunity to help a beggar. It may be an opportunity to help a brother-in-Christ. It could be an opportunity to help the church. Sometimes we may decide against helping because we think to ourselves it is not worth our time and effort.
In 1 Samuel 23:1-13, we read of another movie, “Saving Keilah.” In the passage, we read of David who was on the run from King Saul, along with 600 of his men. However, he heard that the city of Keilah was being besieged by the Philistines (v.1). He was therefore faced with that dilemma: should he help them or not? At the end of the account, we see that David decided to help and save the city of Keilah, despite the misgivings that he and his men had. Here are 3 things we can learn from David, in making the decision to help others:
1. LOOK BEYOND MYSELF
David and his men had their own worries to settle: they were struggling to stay alive and not get killed by King Saul; even in Judah they did not feel safe (v.3). To go outside to the city of Keilah and put their lives in greater danger by fighting the Philistines; that did not seem like a good idea. Furthermore, if King Saul were to ambush them at Keilah, they would be hard pressed to escape; they would be facing 2 enemies at once! Despite these misgivings, David looked beyond his own problems and went to help Keilah when they were in need.
One of the things that prevent us from helping others, or helping the church, is that we are too worried about ourselves to think of others. However, as Christians, we ought to look out for the needs of others, instead of our own (Philippians 2:3-4). The Macedonian Christians gave generously to those in need, despite their own poverty (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). Jesus Himself overlooked His own needs, and came to earth to minister to mankind (Philippians 2:5-8). God expects us to help others, and we will be judged at that last day based on whether or not we have helped others (Matthew 25:31-46). We need to look beyond ourselves, and look out for the needs of others.
2. LOOK PAST THEIR FLAWS
David helped Keilah despite the possibility of them betraying him. When he enquired of God, God told him that, yes, when Saul comes over, Keilah would indeed deliver David to Saul. What a betrayal! If you were David, would you have been angry with Keilah? We would probably regret saving Keilah in the first place!
One of the things that prevent us from helping others, or helping the church, is we fear our efforts will not be appreciated; or that the other party is not deserving of our help. However, as Christians, we are expected to do good to others, without expecting any reward or appreciation, and without regard for the person’s character (Galatians 6:10). In fact, Jesus exhorts us to love our enemies, and do good to those who hate us (Matthew 5:44)! Jesus Himself came to help humanity, despite knowing that they would crucify Him (Matthew 16:21; Psalm 22:16). We need to look past their flaws, and look out for them in their time of need.
3. LOOK TO GOD
Despite the concerns that David had regarding Keilah, he always enquired of the Lord and did whatever God instructed. When God told him to save Keilah, David went. Furthermore, David trusted God, that He would deliver on His promise to deliver the Philistines into his hand. That is faith: to trust and obey.
One of the things that prevent us from helping others, or helping the church, is our lack of faith in God. We are sometimes too worried about our own situation, when instead we should be trusting God to take care of things. As Christians, we need to put God first in our lives, and trust Him to take care of us (Matthew 6:33). The Macedonian Christians are commendable in this aspect, that they gave generously to others despite their poverty; this was possible because they “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5). Jesus Himself, despite His fear of impending death, committed Himself to the Father’s will in trusting obedience (Luke 22:42). We need to look to God in trusting obedience even as we look out for the needs of others.
So, was it worthwhile saving Keilah? David certainly had his reservations. However, he committed himself to helping Keilah because he looked beyond himself, looked past their flaws, and looked to God. Let us do the same, so that we can be more generous in helping others, and to be more courageous in doing the work of the Lord, and in helping the church. Let us not forget that we ourselves had been saved by Jesus, because he also looked beyond Himself, looked past our flaws, and looked to God.