How Much Help is Too Much

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Hands pulling rope to opposite sides

The Tug Between Submission and Self-reliance

Christians help others. We reflect God’s love, practice selflessness, build relationships, and that provides a euphoric feeling. But too much help isn’t good either; we may need to help less. So, how much help is too much?

We should respond with Godly obedience when we see a need, but the carnal mind reacts with worldly solutions instead of seeking spiritual direction. It’s the tug between submission and self-reliance.   

Mommy learns to help less.

I taught my son, Christopher, how to make his bed when he was a toddler. I bought him a colorful bedcover to entice his interest. We smoothed the sheets, tucked the corners, and spread the comforter over his twin bed. He liked being a big boy, and he loved helping mom.  

When it was time to go solo, he was ready. He climbed on his bed and crawled around in circles pulling and tapping his covers.  

helping hand

I was eager to see his first try, so while he was eating breakfast I took a peek. I found a lumpy bed with a diagonal comforter cascading off the side of the mattress. The pillow was molded into a ball except for a hollow indentation that resembled Chris’s little head.

How cute, I thought. He tried.

I reached for the comforter ready to remake the bed. Before my fingers touched the fabric, I was restrained by a thought, leave it alone.

I knew it was the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit.  

Instead of applauding his efforts, I was going to remake his bed. My reactionary impulse would have suggested disapproval—failure. God showed me how to help less. I left his bed alone and celebrated the moment with a mommy-son hug.  

I wish I could say I learned my lesson, but when I see a need, I still react with self-reliance. What can I say? It’s hard to restrain myself, but I’m learning. 

I have to remember that submission to God is more important than my present mission. When God calls, I don’t want Him to get a busy signal or voicemail message; I’m sorry. I’m away from Your presence; I’ll check back as I’m busy helping the world.


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Mary chose to help less.

Our familiar sisters in the Bible, Mary and Martha, came across a “help” dilemma when Jesus came to visit. Martha was enraged; Mary was engaged.

“… Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

Luke 10:38-40 New American Standard Bible

Notice Jesus answer:

“But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 NASB

Bravo, Mary! In this situation, Mary chose to help less, and Jesus said it was a good choice. 

God is our ultimate helper.

This imperfect world doesn’t limit God. God is the ultimate helper. He knows every need. He provides, heals, redeems, and breaks every spiritual chain.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.

Isaiah 55:8 NASB

God may ask us to offer tangible help—or trust His higher wisdom and help less. Either way, God’s direction will bring peace because we release needs into the best helping hands we know–Jesus Christ.

Marisa Shadrick


New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). . LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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2 Responses

  1. A lesson i had to learn, was to let others do for me, even when i could do it myself. my wife was very loved by our neighbors and friends. i always thought, how lucky i was to be loved by someone that was so loved by so many others. when she passed suddenly, the pain was felt throughout our community. in the process of healing and concern for my son and i, many people offered to help in as many ways as they could. people were lined up, wanting to do for us. i learned that the way i could honor them and their memories of Grace, was to let them do things for us. i could see the sincerity and pain in their eyes. more, i could see the joy in them to be doing things for us and paying respects to her. Good people always respond in tough times to help their neighbor. a good neighbor lets them ….

  2. What a great point, Trace. Receiving help is just as important as offering help. You were thinking of your son and others during a devastating time in your lives. There’s no formula when it comes to helping (or not helping) but the motivating reason, as beautifully described in your story, is love for another person. I’m so sorry for your pain. I can see Grace left a lasting memory for all that knew her. What a great example for all of us.

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