Study 8 HOW TO HELP IN THE LORD’S WORK
BREAD ENOUGH AND TO SPARE
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Isaiah 41: 1-10)
A comparison between Isaiah 41:6-7 and Judges 5:23 suggested the theme for this study – two passages which are opposite in their emphasis and must be considered in contrast. The first is a picture of a company of people who were continually helping each other in the Lord’s work; the second contains a solemn denunciation of other people who by their unwillingness to contribute to God’s work actually hindered it. We as Christians can help or hinder the work of the gospel. Our greatest desire should be to help the work forward but the following examples may remind us of how that work can be hindered:-
- 1. Ananias and Sapphira, by their dishonesty (Acts 5:1-11).
- 2. Those who were guilty of murmuring (Acts 6:1).
- 3. Two ladies who refused to be humble (Philippians 4:2)
- 4. Certain women referred to by Paul (1 Timothy 5:14-15).
- 5. Demas, who went back into the world (2 Timothy 4:10).
- 6. Diotrephes, who loved to have the pre-eminence (3 John 9-10).
- 7. Those at Ephesus, who left their first love (Revelation 2:4).
How is it possible for us to be able to help in the Lord’s work?
1. From 2 Corinthians 1:11 – exercising the ministry of prayer
This verse reads, “…as you help us by your prayers.” Paul was writing to Christians at Corinth, and after speaking of his trials he asked for their prayer fellowship. Here we see a ministry where all can participate. All can pray, and how this helps forward the work of the Lord! Nothing of permanent spiritual value is ever accomplished except in answer to someone’s prayers. What a challenge! This is something which can be done by those people who might say, “There isn’t much that I can do!”
2. From Acts 18:27-28 – establishing new converts in the scriptures
Many had been converted through Paul’s ministry and the young converts now needed help. When Apollos appeared “he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.” The young convert needs to be grounded in the scriptures for growth (2 Peter 3:18); also to learn how to correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Evangelism is very important, but so is the consolidation and building up of those who are converted following these evangelistic efforts. Part of the Great Commission was that converts should be taught to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20); and from Pentecost onwards we find they were nurtured in this way (Acts 2:42). Are you a spiritual foster parent?
3. From 2 Corinthians 1:24 – promoting joy in fellow-Christians
Notice what Paul says here: “…we work with you for your joy…” He had a great desire to promote the joy of these Christians. We should have the same desire, and it is within our ability to increase the joy of those with whom we work in God’s service. We should not, by our attitude, words or actions make others sad or unhappy, but joyful and all the better for being with us and working with us. How can we do this? – being friendly (1 Corinthians 11:33); sympathetic (Romans 12:15); patient (1 Thessalonians 5:14); practical (Galatians 6:10); humble (1 Peter 5:5); forgiving (Ephesians 4:32); loving (1 Peter 1:22).
4. From Philippians 4:3 – striving to keep the unity of the Spirit
Two women at Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche, had quarrelled. Paul asked that they should be given help to resolve their differences. This ministry of reconciliation is by no means easy, but is one that God blesses (Ephesians 4:1-6), particularly noticing verse 3; then turn to Galatians 6:1 and Matthew 5:9.
5. From Romans 16:3 – encouraging those who are in the front line of the battle
Priscilla and Aquila were great friends of Paul who gave him much support. He speaks of them as “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus” – compare Acts 18:2, 18 and 26; 1 Corinthians 16:19. How did they help Paul, apart from the moral support and prayer fellowship which they gave to him? Perhaps they gave financially, or opened their home to him; sometimes they travelled with him. We cannot all be in the front line of the battle, as Paul was, but we can all in some measure fill the role of Priscilla and Aquila by helping in the Lord’s work.
6. From 3 John 8 – standing up for the Truth
It is great if we desire to be “fellow workers for the truth” or “the faith”; compare Jude 3. There is a great need today for Christians to come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7); to obey the truth (1 Peter 1:22); to walk according to the truth (Galatians 2:14); to be established in the truth (2 Peter 1:12); to speak out the words of truth (Acts 26:25); and not to wander from the truth (James 5:19). Those who defend the faith, in love, certainly help forward God’s work.
7. From Acts 16:9 – responding to the missionary call
In verses 9-13 we read about Paul’s vision, his call, and the response that he and his fellow-workers made; but the missionary call comes to us today. How can we answer the call?
- (1) By being willing to go. Some cannot go because of age or circumstances. Everyone should be available to God for missionary service.
- (2) By supporting missionary work with our gifts.
- (3) By prayer fellowship with those who are on the field.