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Grace Notes

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THE GIFT OF HELPS
by Philip Owen

Every time I stopped the car yesterday, an overpowering odor of melting plastic filled the air.  I looked under the hood and could find nothing, but that pungent reminder each time I got out of the car assured me that all was not well.  Finally, late last night, with the odor wafting in from the garage and filling the entire house, I called Joe, our neighbor and fellow church member, explained the symptoms, and drove over to his home so that he could have a look.  He came out, flashlight in hand, and began sniffing and examining under the hood, systematically eliminating one possibility after another.  I began imagining the worst, mentally kicking myself for getting into such a mess, and seeing in my mind’s eye, carloads of dollar bills being stuffed into the pocket of some local mechanic.  All the while, I was watching Joe.  It was a beautiful thing to behold, like a high form of art, which I could not comprehend but only stand back and admire.  He was like a hound on a warm scent—single-minded, intent, undeterrable.  Embarrassed by the amount of time he was giving me, I was about to excuse myself and leave, when he said:  “It’s plastic all right.”  Somehow a piece of plastic wrapper had become stuck to the catalytic converter and was slowly melting, sending noxious fumes everywhere.  My relief was palpable.

What is the point of this lengthy story?  Just this:  the Lord gifts every saint.  In other words. Each of us is equipped for a ministry.  Too often, we seem to expect everyone to exercise the same ministry.  Some emphasize preaching, teaching, praying, and witnessing, to the exclusion of everything else.  And while it is clear that everyone ought to pray and that each believer’s life ought to reflect the grace of the Lord, every believer has a unique gift, a special ability designed for him alone and intended for the use of blessing others.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says before you feel cheated or inferior because you cannot preach or teach or because you do not have a glib tongue for witnessing.  “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then . . . gifts of . . . helps” (I Cor. 12:28).  Included right along with those “full time” public ministries is the gift of helps.  Joe was exercising the gift of helps yesterday, and I rejoiced in it.  So was his wife several days ago when she called and offered to watch our children if my wife, who was ill, were too sick to watch them herself.  So was the man who offered to help me with a difficult and detestable job I had to do in my yard.  And I could go on and on.

How we should rejoice if we have the gift of helps.  The Lord has set people with such gifts in the church.  Such people are the oil that keeps the engine lubricated.  Those tasks, sometimes unpleasant, must be done if ministry is to continue, if people are to live.  How blessed it is when they are done by saints, for saints, and with other saints as unto the Lord.

What a terrible mistake it would have been had the Lord made us all preachers and teachers.  The cacophony would have deafened us while the church property and our homes fell into disrepair, our families ran into the streets unclothed, unfed, and neglected.  But the Lord, in His great grace and wisdom, has gifted us severally as He will.  And He has chosen many of us to work, not out publicly on the stage before the audience, but behind the scenes in unglorified roles, yet in tasks that are, nevertheless, essential.  If you have the “gift of helps,” don’t bemoan the fact that you are not someone else with a more “glorious” gift.  Use your gift as unto the Lord for the edification of the saints and to the glory of God.  You will fill your life and the lives of others with blessing and fellowship.  Don’t you have brethren you call on to share a prayer burden, others you call on when you have a disagreeable task requiring an additional pair of hands, others you call on for technical skills?  I have.  I could not get along without them.  The Lord intended it that way.  We minister to one another according to our several gifts.  I rejoice if someone recognizes the ministry of helps in me.  I am honored that he feels I am charitable enough to offer my time and energy on his behalf.  I want to be known as such a person.  You ought to want the same thing.  The Lord uses and blesses such desires.

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