Point and Laugh or Climb in and Help
Noah drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Genesis 9:21-22
We’ve temporarily got a skid-steer at our house, which I intended to use yesterday to do some landscaping. I’d never used it before, but how hard could it be, right? I couldn’t get even it started. I turned the ignition key. No ignition. I realized there must be some small step I’d missed and looked desperately around the cab. As I flipped switches unsuccessfully, my eyes gravitated to two bright red levers on the cab door. I turned them both . . . and they turned out to be the emergency releases for the door, which subsequently popped off. As I struggled to put things back together, my wife showed up, wondering why I wasn’t moving rock. I didn’t want to tell her what I’d done because it was so stupid. She didn’t point and laugh though. She didn’t even ask why I’d done such a dumb thing. She simply climbed up on the skid-steer and asked what she could do to help. She’s a good woman.
I’ve worked in the Emergency Room, and I still work in Urgent Care, the jail, and in addiction medicine. Daily, I’m exposed to the profound stupidity of mankind. There are times when it’s tempting to laugh or criticize. When people come to me for help though, pointing and laughing isn’t what they need. What they need is my help.
As today’s passage illustrates, pointing and laughing is a sin of its own. In the story, Noah got drunk and laid there naked for all to see. That would seem to be the great failure of the story. However, Ham, one of Noah’s sons, saw his father’s naked intoxication and went to tell his brothers. The two brothers, embarrassed for their father, covered his nakedness. Ham simply pointed and laughed. He could have helped. Instead, he condescended, criticized, and mocked.
We’re all quite skilled at identifying the flaws and failures of those around us. We recognize stupidity . . . in others. When we see idiocy, the temptation is to criticize, condescend, and mock. Pointing and laughing makes us feel good and frankly, it’s so much easier than actually helping. The problem though, is that laughing at the failure of others, is itself a failure. In our condescension, we see the flaws in others, while remaining profoundly blind to our own flaws. What would Jesus do in this situation? If we claim to follow Christ, then daily, instead of pointing and laughing when we see others struggling, we must climb into their lives, actually trying to help.