Obviously we live in a time when people have many problems: Finances; Marriage; Education; Health; Personal Relations; Physical Fitness; Job Relations; and, as we have experienced in recent months, natural disasters.
Each year people spend millions of dollars seeking the help of professionals. Psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors, financial experts, medical doctors, etc., all reap the financial benefits of serving a needy public. That’s not to say they do not deserve what they make, as most of them spent many years and dollars to get their degrees and professional credentials. As a matter of fact, I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, and my wife, Barbara, has a Master of Science degree in Counseling.
The fact is, sometimes it is necessary to seek professional help. I encourage people who are facing difficult issues to consult a competent mental or physical health professional when necessary. Modern medical science has developed highly effective methods and medications to treat both physical illnesses and psychological problems. Christians should never be embarrassed or hesitant to get the kind of professional help they need (and the best are not always necessarily Christians).
Sometimes, however, we don’t need that kind of expert help. Maybe we just need some good ole’ common sense advice. How many times have you sought the guidance of a pastor, good friend, or fellow church member? How many time times has someone asked you for assistance with a personal or family issue?
Many people in churches are especially gifted with the ability to console the hurting and give wise advice to fellow Christians in need. The Apostle Paul mentioned the spiritual gifts of “wisdom” (1 Cor. 12:8), “mercy” (Rom. 12:8), and “helps” (1 Cor. 12:28). “Wisdom” is having knowledge with good judgment and discernment in spiritual matters. “Mercy” is the extraordinary quality of some Christians to be of special service in times of illness, bereavement, or sorrow. “Helps” is the gift of being able to give special assistance to those in need, or to give solutions to certain practical problems. I always think of my wife Barbara in this regard. She has a knack for making practical suggestions to people. She is especially adept at instructing young mothers and fathers to better parent their children.
In some cases, however, all that is needed is just a listening ear or maybe a hug. That is something that any Christian can offer to a fellow believer when they are a little down or are grieving the loss of a loved one. In fact, sometimes nothing can or should be said, but just our loving presence can be a comfort.
Today, and next two installments, we examine what the Bible says about helping others. In this installment we look at the spiritual resources we have available to give aid in Jesus’ name. In the next part we will examine the attitudes that are best in helping others. In the third installment we will look at some very practical ways of doing service.
The First Spiritual Resource We Have Is Found in John 15:1-5
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (NASB)
Jesus states that the primary and most essential resource for helping others is Himself. He says that the Father is the vinedresser, but He is the vine. He is the source for bearing fruit. “Fruit” refers to those qualities necessary to serve God and minister to others. He even goes so far as to say, “apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Our first and primary resource for helping others is Jesus Christ. We will be totally ineffective if we do not rely on Him. Why is this true? For several significant reasons. In Romans 3:23- 25 Paul says,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation (sacrificial death) in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.
One reason we must rely on Jesus to do good is because we are basically bad. We are all sinners, and that is the primary base for all our problems. Only Jesus took care of the sin problem on the cross.
Another reason is that Jesus is the perfect example of a caring person. Just think of all the people he took time to help. There was the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar (John 4:7-30), the Rich ruler (Matt.19:16-26), Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20), and so many more.
So the first step for being a helper is to be right with God yourself. Make sure you are saved; then, be willing to help others see Jesus as true source of life and help. In other words, be a witness for Christ.
The Second Essential Spiritual Resource for Helping People Is Found in John 14:16-17
16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (NASB)
He tells His disciples that the “Helper” (NASB, NKJV), will come. The KJV translates it as the “Comforter.” The NIV and RSV translations call Him the “Counselor. All those terms translate the Greek word “Parakletos.” Literally it means “One called along side of…” Jesus, of course, was speaking of the Holy Spirit. Jesus talks about Him in the above verses and in John 14:26; 15:26-27; and 16:7-14.
The Holy Spirit indwells us at salvation. He is God, the Third Person of the Trinity who lives inside of you. He is a supernatural source of power to help others and ourselves. This runs counter to “Human Potential” ideas that are often hawked in the popular culture and media. To truly help others we must have the power of God.
But Jesus did not leave it there. In John 16:12-15, He told His disciples,
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. (NASB)
Jesus promised His disciples He would make more known to them through the “Spirit of Truth” (Holy Spirit). Later, many of these same men became the Apostles who wrote down God’s Word which eventually became the Bible.
Thus the Final Spiritual Resource We Have for Helping People in Need Is Scripture
The Apostle Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (NASB)
God’s Word, the Bible, is our handbook for helping. It provides practical principles for every area of life: salvation; finances; marriage; education; health; personal relations; physical fitness; and even job relations. In its pages we find what we need to help our friends and fellow Christians whatever their needs may be.
We can be helpers for those around us. But we need first to make sure we are equipped. That starts with salvation. We must then depend on Jesus and the power of God’s Holy Spirit. We should use the Scriptures as our guidebook.
In the next two installments we will look at the right attitudes we need in helping others and at the many practical ways we can serve.
© 2017 Tal Davis