Helping Those in Need—Do it For the Right Reasons

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Everybody Always" by Bob Goff. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you look for recognition after helping those in need? Why should you always act with grace even if it comes at a cost to you?

In his book Everybody, Always, Bob Goff says that if you’re trying to become love, then you need to make helping those in need a part of your life. Goff shares an example of a time his grace was very costly but he never regretted helping someone in need, even a convict.

Keep reading to learn why you should always help those in need.

Always Help Those in Need

When you become love, you give over part of your life to helping those in need. You make room in your world for others, even if you don’t think you have room. Becoming love means getting used to having your world disrupted in ways you didn’t imagine, but these disruptions are where your faith lives and your grace. You might feel like grace is too high a price to pay if your world is thrown out of whack because of it, but what price would you pay to know you were serving Jesus and living your life’s purpose?

In the back of Love Does, Bob’s previous book, he listed his phone number. He wanted to make himself available like Jesus does. He gets dozens of phone calls a week from people, and he takes them all. He even takes them while he’s working because he knows becoming love means being fully accessible to people when they’re in need. 

One day, a man from prison called his number by accident. But while they were on the phone, the man asked Bob to call two people—the man’s girlfriend and mother. Bob made the calls using a third-party system to connect the man with his loved ones, and both were a disaster. The girlfriend didn’t come to the phone, and the mother hung up after the man said he loved her. Bob felt his heart wrench for this man. He asked him what he was looking for with these calls, and the man said he needed someone to buy him an ankle bracelet so he could be released. Without a second thought, Bob agreed to buy it for him. 

The Price of Grace

That day, the cost of Bob’s grace was $9.95 for the phone call and a large chunk of money for the bracelet, but he didn’t worry about it. He could help someone who’d asked for it, so he did, like Jesus would want him to. Afterward, Bob never heard from the man again, and that was also okay with him. He didn’t need anything from this man, and he didn’t help him so he could get a pat on the back from others for his good deed. He told his wife and that was it. 

This experience reminded Bob of two things: 1) Jesus already knows what you’re doing, so you don’t need to wow Him with stories of your grand gestures, and 2) becoming love is like playing the part of a tree in a play, as Bob had done as a child. The tree is not the hero or the antagonist of the story. The tree has no lines and gets no credit for being a tree. Your only job as the tree is to stand tall and move your arms when directed to. It’s pretty simple. 

Likewise, when you’re simply a tree in someone’s life, your only job is to stand tall and await directions, then perform them to the best of your ability. You don’t need to be the victim or hero or receive applause. You just need to love. Jesus wants you to participate in the play of life that He is the star in. Play your part well, and don’t ruin the performance by demanding credit in the playbill. 

When you get to heaven and talk with Jesus, you can both have a good chat about all the ways you gave love to others. There won’t be fanfare or a parade to salute you. You will simply have the satisfaction of knowing you did what you could to live the way Jesus wanted you to live. And at the end of the day, if it costs you time, comfort, or $9.95, the price will be worth the reward.

Helping Those in Need—Do it For the Right Reasons

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Bob Goff's "Everybody Always" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Everybody Always summary:

  • How to live your life like Jesus lived his
  • Why you need to open yourself up to God's love and give love to others
  • How to deepen your faith by focusing on love rather than showing that you "agree" with God

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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