Good Samaritan or Meddling Busybody?

lifebuoyMy life has taken an unexpected turn lately. One of my friends has needs so great that it feels perfectly natural to give more help than she asks for. More help than my previous plans allowed for. Priorities are shifting as I let other goals slide. Helping her feels good and seems right, but how can I be sure? Maybe I’m butting in where I don’t belong. Maybe I’m pushing my own solutions instead of letting God do His work.

I want to be like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable—the man who rendered assistance to a wounded stranger. There’s no indication that the victim asked for help. The Samaritan saw the need and responded. That’s a good thing, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. Help given in the wrong way or for the wrong reasons can undermine the welfare of both giver and receiver. I know this from personal experience. Rushing to the rescue can be an act of compassion, or it can be an exercise of my ego. The solution that seems obvious might be God’s will, or it might be just a bandaid to hide the real problem.

How do I know when to help and when to mind my own business? This would be a good topic for a blog post. I would like to write such a post, but I don’t know the answer.

In helping my friend, I’m trusting my gut and following my heart, but I realize I’m on shaky ground. Emotions can provide useful information, but they also can be misleading. I don’t want to rely on feelings as my main guide. As the prophet Jeremiah said, the heart is deceitful and corrupt. (Jeremiah 17:9)

Since I’m stumped, let me open the question to my readers. How do you discern God’s will when you encounter a need that tugs at your heart strings? What’s the difference between meddling and helping?

Please share your experiences and insights by posting a comment below.


  1. Great question. It is easier to see in others. Not so easy to discern when we are overstepping our boundaries.