Monday, April 15, 2013

Helping: A Christian Way of Life

“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open handed towards your brothers and towards the poor and needy in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:11 NIV).

A few months ago, we wrote an article on giving and we showed how God ordained giving in nature and human society. This week however, our Lord wants us to remind you about helpfulness. The ‘glue’ that holds human society together is helpfulness. We express love when we show care to others.

Furthermore, helping has been confined to the church as a ministry function and gift. But sadly many individual believers think they only need to give to the church and they would have fulfilled their Christian duty of helping. I have a report for you from the Scriptures, “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members [emphasis mine] of it. And God has placed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, of HELPING….” (1 Corinthians 12:27-28 NIV). From this Scripture and many others, helping is as much a spiritual gift as prophecy and tongues, but the believers desire the higher gifts instead of gifts that expresses Christian character and Godly conduct. The Christian ministry gift of helping is an outward expression of goodness, gratitude and love. This is a BEATITUDE and a lofty example of Who it is that is WITHIN us (John 15:12). As an observation, people are naturally egotistical and no wonder they desire association and possession of the higher gifts of the Spirit more than gifts that expresses God’s character. The higher and explosive gifts of the Holy Spirit reveal us to everyone and cause an instant attraction to ourselves, while the ‘self-sacrifice’ gifts like helping and humility are hidden yet powerful and praiseworthy because they are yielded to God (Romans 12:1; Matthew 6:2).

Helping: A New Testament Teaching
Beloved brethren, before you consider this topic boring and that you know it all, my question is: do you actually practice helpfulness? This teaching is for you and if you feel like resisting it, you are actually being challenged. Take heed and deal with that bad fruit within you; YIELD and be delivered!

In the book of Acts chapters 4 and 5, we are shown how sharing was practiced among believers. The opening Christian message by Peter was preached for salvation and sharing was practiced as a way of life. The earlier believers sold and shared the proceeds of their possessions to help others who were needy (Acts 4:34-35). In this account of Acts, I read the believers ‘were of one heart and soul’ (Acts 4:32). They did not have to know one another to care, they were unified in the Holy Spirit they knew Him and His commands. Christ is seen alive in us if we show kindness to the needy (John 8:31; Matthew 5:42). We would like to recognise that this doctrine of helpfulness has been well presented in the church and praise the Lord many ministries practices helping. However, individual members are encouraged to bring to the ‘store house’ only. The Bible admonishes us as individuals and as a body to practice helping as a Christian duty (1 John 3:17). The apostle James is even much bolder by saying, “You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works” (James 2:18 Holman CSB). The preceding verses challenge us to show our religion through sharing and helping (James 2:14-17). The Scripture encourages us to practice charity all around us, and not just to the brethren. Our very opening verse says: be open-handed!

As background information, Christians are encouraged to hold on to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If you view our teaching with suspicion, accept the message as from the Lord because we seek to build you in faith and in Christian ministry service (Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 4:16). Our teachings and messages to you have been confirmed and authenticated through mighty visions. These truths we shared are undeniably from the Lord. We live and practice truth and our aim is to please you and draw you closer to God. In reality, some believers have grown so accustomed to ‘Churchism’ that all truth meant to foster their growth and walk with the Lord is being rejected, because their church or pastor never preached about this. Sadly, but true, these kind of believers are deceived! They have given their spiritual destiny into the hands of man, instead of studying and practicing the Scriptures themselves. As a faithful witness and a preacher of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ myself, I do not encourage a personal following of man, instead I preach Christ and point man to Him. Nor do I magnify the gifts to lure man to it, but to the GIVER! He matters and the gifts must testify about Him! My question to you is this: do we chase after gifts because we want to be like brother so and so? [Egoism] Or do we seek union with Christ? (1 Corinthians 6:17).

Examples of Helping and Not Helping

Here is our further encouragement to you: please pursue to know Christ and serve Him faithfully more than a church membership. We have inquired Word from the Lord through Charis for quite a few Christian brethren who are not church members of a local body. As individuals the Lord gave them personal messages and found them to be faithful in service to Him. Having mentioned this, I am not discouraging church attendance; if your church attendance does not bear fruit for outside ministry, then you are an infant and spiritually unproductive. John says, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3: 8-10). Do you think your salvation was meant for church membership? Think again! It was meant for fruit bearing, FRUIT BEARING! (John 15:1-6).

Moreover, the NAME JESUS is associated as the embodiment of all GOODNESS and those who opted to follow Him must be like Him (Philippians 2:1-11). If helping is practiced with discrimination, we fail the truth and deny Christ a witness to the needy church member or the non-church member (James 2:1-9). I once attended some Bible School classes at a local church and I heard how the pastor and his wife encouraged some members of their congregation to practice discrimination towards non-church members. He told them in my hearing that children whose parents are not attending church are not welcomed to his church’s children’s year-end party. I was dumbstruck by this and I wondered how he would invite outsiders to Christ if he shuts them out, especially innocent children. Brethren, as followers of Christ Jesus, we must practice helping everywhere to anyone! What this pastor and his wife practiced is widespread and anti-Christian (1 John 3:17).

In conclusion, kindly allow me to share some personal testimonies of helping. I used to work in a food-processing factory west of Johannesburg, South Africa, in the early 1990s. One morning I was met by a young man about six years younger than me. He asked me for money so I gave him without questions. This happened quite regularly, so one day I decided to ask him why he doesn’t look for a job instead of living on hand-outs. He told me that he could not find a job. I asked him where he lived and he pointed me to an old train as his sleeping place. This brought tears to eyes and I tried very hard to hide it from him so I hurriedly told him that I will try to find him a job and a place to stay. I gave him a silver coin and left. Many days thereafter, I thought to myself I must help this boy, but how? I decided to commit this to the Lord in prayer. I felt led to visit him at the train station where he was living. Because we had not seen one another over many days he seemed to have forgotten me when I called to him. He at first refused to answer, as he thought I could have been one of the men who had threatened his life in the past. I explained to him who I was and he came out to meet me. The Lord had put it into my heart to take him to my apartment and have him take a bath; provide him my clothes and food for him. After all this, I ministered to him the Word of God. He cried out to the Lord and got saved. He was visibly shaken by this act of kindness. Brethren, I am nothing and I need no commendation from anyone, I practice and live out my Christian convictions without regret.

Through the grace of the Lord, we managed to get him a job at the factory where I worked as a temporary worker. I then invited him to a local Christian coffee shop and we met up with brothers who after listening to his situation decided to give him a place to stay. Although, I initially offered him a place to sleep I could not accommodate him because I shared a place with three brothers in the Lord and our lease agreement prohibited housing more than three people. This young brother grew in confidence. Having grown up selling “mandrax” (drugs) in the streets, he began to experience working and earning money honestly for the first time in his life. I am not going to relate his whole story but in closing, it is not a happy ending. He became ungrateful and longed for the days of drugs so he found himself in his former life. He did us much harm materially and we forgave him. Still I did not give up on him and I continued to pray for him. I tried to help him again, but he refused and lived to regret the chances he was afforded.

This is one of many similar situations of personal ministry as an individual member of the body of Christ. Some made it and were restored back into society, while others abandoned the faith and engaged in their old habits. To this day, I am not discouraged and still practice and preach helpfulness.

Finally, this is the Lord’s teaching and He has shared with us through many messages that we should help others and practice sharing. While we do not say you must support the world, your ministry of help is to those around you. The body of believers or Church whether, your local church or a Christian ministry, needs your help for God’s work; we encourage you help them. The individual member of society looks to you, dear Minister of Truth, for help; so be the light there (Matthew 5:16). This will help you to be unselfish and stay greed-free. Christian sharing is choked by the deceptive doctrine of ‘prosperity’ and Christianity is being used as means to personal enrichment. This is Satan’s worldly trap; my Christian brethren BEWARE! Consider helping others today!

We have through this website requested help from our readers to help fund a vehicle, which we still don’t have, for our witnesses. The response is embarrassing and before we placed the request for help, we asked the Lord and He said we should ask for help from the brethren (Galatians 6:6). This is not for self-enrichment but for the work of God. We go out witnessing with battered feet, not that we want anybody’s sympathy, but we appeal to you for Christ’s sake for the salvation of others (Philippians 2:21).

Have you been working out your faith? Are you chasing the higher gifts of the Spirit rather than union with Christ? Have you neglected to use your humble gift of helping and being open handed which expresses God's character? Here is a Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

May the Peace of the Son of Man be upon you!

Your Fellow Brother in the Truth,