Thursday, August 25, 2011

He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother!

Jeremiah 38:10

Then the King commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, “take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”

There is a painting by an African-American artist I saw when I was younger, depicting a man reaching over a wall to help another man over to freedom. The caption under it read, “He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.” This painting was inspired by a song written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell in 1969. The first verse in the song said:

The road is long with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows were, who knows when but I’m strong enough to carry him. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

In these uncertain times there are a lot of brothers and sisters down who not only need a hand out but more importantly need a hand up. Especially from those of us who are in a position to help someone out. We should help lift them up because in helping them we really help ourselves.

Jeremiah, the prophet, was thrown in a well and left to die for telling the truth to the king that they should surrender to the Babylonians. Speaking truth to power can be dangerous but not speaking Dos’ truth can be deadly. Jeremiah said, “when I said wasn’t going to speak in his name anymore, his word was like fire shut up in my bones.”

They threw Jeremiah in a well with no water in it, just mud. He sank into it and was left to starve to death. How many people are sinking into a depression because they’ve been let go, laid off, or put in prison? So many brothers/sisters are starving in dark places with no hope for tomorrow. They’re not heavy they just need a job. They’re not heavy they just need another chance. They need a lift.

Ebed-Melech the Cushite heard about Jeremiah’s plight and went to the King on his behalf. He was a minority. He was an official in the Royal palace. He used his position at the top to help a brother who was at the bottom of a well. Jeremiah had a good name and integrity even though he was at the bottom. No matter how hard times may get there is one thing that people can’t take away from you and that is your good name. Guard it with everything that you have. Ebed-Melech didn’t mind risking his position or helping him because he knew Jeremiah had a good name and he wasn’t heavy!

Lifting people out of a mess is not heavy work when they are worth the lift. Jeremiah was in a mess but he wasn’t a messy person. He wasn’t heavy. His punishment didn’t fit the crime. His only crime was telling the truth. There are some people you can’t lift because they start pulling you down.

When you find someone of integrity who needs your help to lift them out, here’s what you should do:

1. Use your position and influence to talk to important people to get them out. Ebed-Melech went to the King.

2. Use a network of people to help you. Ebed used 30 men from the palace to help him lift Jeremiah out of the well. Who are the people in your network that can help you lift them out?

3. Use whatever resources you can find even if they are not financial. Ebed-Melech used old rags which were below the treasury. He didn’t use money but rags. I guess Jeremiah went from rags to riches through the help of Ebed-Melech.

4. Make sure the person you are lifting is working with you, not against you. Ebed told Jeremiah to tie the ropes around him. Jeremiah had to participate.

5. Don’t hurt them while you are lifting them. He told Jeremiah to pad the ropes with the old rags so the rope wouldn’t burn. We have to be tactful while we are trying to help pull people up. Don’t tell everybody their business or rub in their faces what you are doing for them.

6. Place the lifted person somewhere safe and where they can succeed. Jeremiah was placed in the courtyard of the guard and brought daily bread until the siege was over.

7. Watch God elevate you after you lift them. Ebed-Melech the Cushite was the only person from the royal palace that was saved when the Babylonians finally broke through. God told Jeremiah to tell Ebed, “I will rescue you on that day, declares the Lord; you will not be handed over to those you fear. I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 39:16-18. When you help others God will help you!

Dear God,

Show me how to lift up my brothers and sisters who are not heavy. Give me discernment on who to lift and whose pulling me down. Give me the resources to help those who are not heavy. Thank you that one day when I was stuck in despair, that your love lifted me. When nothing else could help Jesus your love lifted me. Thank you for lifting me out of my mess.

In Jesus Name,

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