In Genesis 1:1-2:3 God gives us a comprehensive outline of creation from “the beginning” until He rests from His work of creation on the seventh day and blesses and sanctifies that day. Beginning with Genesis 2:4, we find the beautiful details that show us God’s care for mankind whom He sets at the head of His creation. In all these verses we see God acting alone, without aid from anyone, whether man or angels. He is God, self-sufficient and supreme, fully able to finish all that He begins. As we go on in this wonderful account we continue to see God working for the good of His creature, man. Note that man is not created by God’s word, “Let there be.” Unlike every other part of His creation, man is God’s special handiwork. God forms man from the dust of the ground and breathes into his nostrils the breath of life. He prepares the place where he is to live, planting a garden, placing him there, and giving him an occupation and responsibility to tend and to keep it. Man is also given a precise command that reminds him of his unique relationship to God, his Creator, a relationship of dependence and obedience.
The First Gift Of Helps
Immediately we find another gracious reminder of God’s loving care for man. This special creature of God’s making is not and cannot be self-sufficient. Considerate of every need of this new creature, God says, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18 NKJV) and purposes to make a helper for him, a helper that will be absolutely suited to man’s need. This helper is not designed to be simply his assistant, but a helper comparable to him, on his own level, made of his own bone and flesh! God puts man to sleep and takes a rib of his and forms the helper. He then brings this helper, woman, to man and the man instantly recognizes and accepts her as God’s provision of grace for himself with whom he will be joined in lifelong union. They are at ease with one another (Gen. 2:23-25).
Elsewhere in God’s Word we find that this idyllic scene is a picture of something infinitely higher, a great mystery: the union of Christ and the Church. Christ is first, and God’s purpose is to give Him a Bride uniquely suited to Him. To bring this about Christ must go into death and come forth from death again. We Christians together as “members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30), compose the Church, the Bride of Christ. He loved the Church and gave Himself for her. She is subject to Him. He is fitting us to be united to Him. This will be accomplished at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and we shall forever live and reign with Him. Ephesians 5:22-33 and Revelation 19-22 present these wonderful truths to us.
What a blessing it is to be confronted with the idea of a help or helper from the very earliest pages of Scripture! God reminds us that none of us lives to himself, and that we are members of Christ’s body, and as such we must work together for the common good. Time and again as we go through Scripture we have the thought of helping brought before us. We can help our neighbor (Isa. 41:6), and we can even help the Lord (Jud. 5:23). What a magnificent thing it is to be a help, and what a dreadful thing to be its opposite, a hindrance!
We know well, as we go through the Old Testament, that God repeatedly trains men to be leaders of His people by being shepherds. Moses and David are good examples of this. We also see Him training men for His service by having them function as helpers to servants whom He is using. Joshua served Moses for 40 years before God elevated him to be leader of His people. Elisha served Elijah in this capacity. Others say of him that he “poured water on the hands of Elijah” (2 Ki. 3:11), a picture of lowly, refreshing service at a time before faucets and running water. On the other hand, Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, did not enter into Elisha’s thoughts but sought his own enrichment and wound up as a leper (2 Ki. 4:25-31, 5:20-27).
In the New Testament we see “seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” chosen to help by relieving the apostles of having to serve tables so that they could devote themselves “continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:1-4). John Mark, who initially failed in service, ultimately be- came useful for ministry to Paul (Acts 15:38; 2 Tim. 4:11), and even wrote the gospel of God’s perfect Servant. Paul commends Phoebe, a sister who served in the church at Cenchrea as “a helper of many and of myself also” (Rom. 16:1-2), and commends others for their service to the Lord in that chapter and in others also. What a privilege to help, even in little things!
New Testament Gift Of Helps
In 1 Corinthians 12 we find a list of gifts within the one body of Christ. Some of the first contacts the Corinthians had with Christians, other than Paul, were with Aquila and Priscilla, whose home we repeatedly find open to the Lord’s people. This couple had helped Apollos in their home. The Corinthians had later commended this Apollos to the disciples in Achaia, and he “had greatly helped those who had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). But now the Corinthians were taken up with more spectacular gifts, especially with tongues. They had lost sight of the facts that the gifts are given for the common good, that every member of the body is needed and that a body consisting only of one kind of member would not be functional, but would be a monstrosity.
Paul gives a list of gifts in an order of relative importance. Apostles, prophets and teachers come first, second and third in order. Miracles and gifts of healing are next, followed by helps, administrations and varieties of tongues. To emphasize the point, the apostle asks, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Cor. 12:29-31). An interpreter was necessary if the gift of tongues is used in public meetings (1 Cor. 14:28), for tongues are of no value if they are not understood, and all things are to be done for the profit of all.
Helps: A Gift For Everyone
Noticeable by its absence from the list of questions about gifts is the question, “Are all helps?” We may conclude from this that we all should be helps. Certainly that would be far better than being hindrances! “Helps” are brothers and sisters who simply perform many of the practical tasks God has set before them and are a blessing to those around them. Their ministry is not spectacular, but much needed. They are not out front waving a flag as it were, but they are missed if absent.
There are those whom the Lord uses to pioneer a work. There are preachers whose ministry draws crowds. You and I may not have these gifts, but we are all able to set up the chairs, greet people with a smile, pass out hymnbooks and do many other such simple, yet vital tasks. We may feel incapable of teaching a Sunday school class but we can sweep the floor of the Sunday school classroom. We may not be able to speak publicly but we can see to it that there’s a glass of water for the speaker, that the thermostat is set to keep the meeting room comfortable, that the lawn is mowed, the leaves are raked, and the snow is shoveled. We may not be able to exhort the saints, but the Lord might ask us to visit the sick to encourage them and pray for them. Visiting orphans and widows in their affliction is a help that James refers to as “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father” (Jas. 1:27; Mt. 25:36). Finally, prayer is a great way to help others.
The Lord multiplied the five loaves and two fish that a little boy gave Him; the disciples passed them out to the huge crowd of five thousand men plus women and children (Mt. 14:15-21). The Lord called Lazarus from the tomb; others removed the grave stone and took the grave clothes off him (Jn. 11:38-44).
There are so many possibilities open to one who desires to be a help! Distributing tracts is a way to help the one who is street preaching. Providing refreshments to children at Bible club is a way to help the teacher. When Peter preached a tremendous message on the day of Pentecost, the presence of the other apostles with him was a great encouragement and a help (Acts 2:14). Paul’s companion Timothy was urged to help Euodia and Syntyche, the two sisters who were not of one mind (Phil. 4:2-3). And think of the help Epaphroditus, Onesiphorus, Silas, Timothy, Titus, Tertius, Luke, Onesimus, and many others were to Paul’s ministry.
Are You Willing To Help?
Our attitude in serving is vital in being a help. Think of the Lord Jesus taking off His outer garment, putting water into a basin, girding Himself with a towel and then kneeling down and washing the feet of His disciples who were quarreling about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom! The Lord told His disciples that they should learn from His example and do as He had done. That same evening He told them, “I am among you as the One who serves” (Jn. 13:2-17; Lk. 22:27).
The first gift given to man was given to be a help suited to his needs. How important it is for a woman to realize God’s purpose for her. How important it is today for men and women, husbands and wives, to cheerfully be of help to each other. How important that each member in the body of Christ seeks to be a help to every other member of the body with whom God puts them in contact.
And then there are those who have been especially gifted by the Lord to be helps within that body. What an honor! Let’s remember that these gifts have been set in the body by God, each of them just as He pleased! Though humble and often inconspicuous, the gift of helps when exercised in love is much needed and vital to the functioning of the body of Christ.
By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org