Take your life and turn it over for God to use in terms of lifting the burden, becoming vulnerable to the other person’s need, and letting God use the material possessions with which He has trusted you.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello, radio friend. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright? Well, I’m glad to be back with you and I’m glad to go on with you in Romans chapter 16. We’re talking about Priscilla and Aquilla, husband and wife team and whom Paul called “my helpers in Christ Jesus.” The word “helper” is “sunergous,” “working with.” They’re my co-workers. They work with me. How do you work with a person? How do you begin to work with a person in the matters that count for eternity?
Well, as we said last time we got together, you need to put some effort into establishing rapport so that people feel comfortable with you. Anybody who’s afraid of you or is suspicious of you is not going to work very well with you in matters that count for eternity. So, establish yourself as a believable person. Establish yourself as a credible, believable person with whom the other person feels comfortable. Then what? Then realize that most spiritual work begins not in doing but in becoming, that is to say spiritual work is done in prayer and by faith.
More often than it is, by concrete effort, first of all. And so you try then to encourage your friend in the matters of waiting on God in prayer, in the matter of looking at the Word of God and finding out what God’s Word has to say and what action should flow from that truth as we apply it. Spend some time with the person after you’ve become comfortable with him or her in waiting on God in prayer. Make a little list of things about which the two of you are going to pray and say, “Well, now, what shall we trust God for today? What’s on your heart?”
And then share with real sincerity some things that are on your own heart for prayer. Don’t be a specialist in generalized praying. “Lord, bless this and bless that,” but get specific about things that you want God to do in your life and in the lives of others. Waiting on God in prayer, looking into the Word of God to see what He’d say to you as you fellowship with another person, you’ll find that spiritual life and power is transmitted to that other life as you wait on God and as you read His Word. Then what?
There is always a step of obedience that can be taken whether it be related to church work or whether it be related to something in your own individual life or in the life of your friend, there is always a step of obedience that can be taken which ends up being an encouragement and a help to the other person. Now, I can’t begin to tell you what that is. Obviously, you can see that because every person’s life is different. But as you wait on God and pray, the spirit of God will suggest to you some things that you can say and do which will encourage the other person and help to lift his or her burden and help to strengthen him in the work and make you really a co-worker, a worker with that person.
Look for opportunities then to lift the burden, do the work, share the heartache if need be, and to be a real resource person. Oh, by the way, make sure you’ve got something to spill over into somebody else’s life every day, will you? If you want to work with people and encourage them, be sure that you have something that you can spill over into other people’s lives. Our Lord Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, as scripture hath said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.
And the thing that really counts is not the lecture you give somebody but the spillover of divine blessing in your life that something God has given you that very day. I tell our young people here at the college, “Make sure that you get something fresh from God every day, something from His Word that you can share with other people.” This will make you fresh and a refreshing resource kind of a person. I learned this when I was on the road years ago where I would have 5, 6, 7, on one occasion 13 meetings in one day, you know, just all that you could handle without completely collapsing.
And you run out of sermons pretty fast in a schedule like that. So I found that the only answer was to get something fresh from God every morning and then just spill that over in the various meetings where I was required to minister to people. The most blessing I’ve ever had has been in sharing something fresh that I got from God in the morning sharing that with people during the day and on into the night hours. You make that your role, would you, dear friend? Make sure that you get something from God in the morning and then spill it over out of the cup of life into other people’s lives.
Helpers. Now, he said, “Who for my life laid down their own necks.” In other words, they were willing to give themselves for him. They had risked something for him. One of the points of index of usefulness, it seems to me among Christians, is how much am I willing to let another person’s need cost me? The story of what we call The Good Samaritan is a perfect illustration of that. The priest went by and said, “I’m too busy.” The Levite went by, and said, “I can’t be bothered.” But when the Samaritan, a businessman he was, a salesman, travelling salesman, this is the first travelling salesman story right there in the Bible, and when this travelling salesman came where this poor wounded man was lying in the road way.
When he came where he was, it’s said he had compassion on him, he went to him, bound up his wounds pouring in oil and wine, sat him on his own beast and brought him to and inn and took care of him and on When he came where he was, it’s said he had compassion on him, he went to him, bound up his wounds pouring in oil and wine, sat him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him and on the morrow he took out three pence and said unto the inn keeper, “Take care of him; and if thou spendest ought more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” Jesus said, “This man was really a neighbor.” Now, here, I think it’s the classic illustration of real concern and compassion.
He said, “He cared about the man, he took care of him, it robbed him of a night’s sleep, it made a pedestrian of him, it picked his pocket and it put him in debt.” How far am I willing to go in relationship to another person’s need? Now, all of us, of course respond immediately to the needs of our own family and loved ones. If your children have married and now they’ve set up their own home and all of a sudden they strike a snag of some sort and they’re in tremendous financial need, what do you do?
If you have property, you mortgage it; if you have credit, you go borrow something; if you have friends you go get some help; but you do what you can to help those precious kids. You don’t wait around. The problem is however, that our compassion doesn’t stretch quite far enough to reach into the lives of what we call ordinary people. Fact is, of course, nobody is ordinary. Every human being is of immense value. Jesus said, “So great that the whole universe couldn’t buy him back.”
But we make a distinction ordinarily I think in our approach to life between our own and other people’s lives. Our own family, our own loved ones we take care of them and so we should. But the index of real usefulness is “How much am I willing to let another person’s need cost me?” Oh, that’s an embarrassing question, isn’t it, because it gets right down to the quick, so to speak, underneath the calluses that we so often allow to grow upon our sensibilities. Now, you can’t go around helping everybody, you say. Well, that may well be true, but up to the limit of what I am capable of, I ought to do what I can. Does that make sense?
Up to the limit of my own capabilities, whatever my resources may be, I ought to do what I can. And so Paul is saying of Priscilla and Aquilla, “They risked their lives for me. For my life,” it said, “they laid down their own necks.” And I don’t know what that really means. It means that they were in positions of danger because of their friendship for Paul. I think you could say that that much at least is true that this husband and wife team had actually been in positions of personal danger because of their association with Paul.
They took him in, as you know, when he needed to make some money. They were tent makers so was he. So they took him in. They were of great help to Apelles, the young preacher who wasn’t properly oriented to the gospel and they took Apelles in and taught him more perfectly the things of God. But somewhere along the line, these two people had said in connection with their relationship with Paul, “We don’t care what it costs us, we’re with him.” I think true friendship is going to lead us to take a stand along this line.
You accept a person not conditionally but unconditionally regardless of what it’s going to cost. You accept a person for Jesus’ sake unconditionally. The fact is that when you accept a person into your life and your concern you become vulnerable, don’t you? And it’s practically certain that that relationship is going to cost you something in time and effort, and perhaps money, and your substance or opportunity or whatever it may be. But you become vulnerable at that point. Now, this is the point then, beloved, at which many of us shy away and we say, “No, I don’t want to go that far.”
That’s what happened to the priest and the Levite on the road to Jericho. They didn’t want to go that far. Do you see? And so what I’m pleading for today is, if you want to help somebody else, accept him or her into your life and your concern unconditionally for Jesus’ sake. So they know that although you may not agree with them, although you may deplore their faults and failings, although you may on occasion point out where they need to be different, and all of that, yet they know that you’ve accepted them. They know that you love them. They know that you’re not rejecting them as a person. This is where it counts.
And I think all of that is wrapped up in that statement, “Who for my life have laid down their own necks, and I give thanks for them,” he said, “Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles.” And then he said they had church in their house. “Likewise,” he said, “greet the church in their house.” Now, what happened here? He said, “They’re my helpers.” Sunergos, co-workers, “they have allowed their friendship with me to cost them something, who for my life laid down their own necks,” and he says, “there’s a church meeting in their house.” They turned their house from time to time into a place of worship.
What’s the index of real helping here? Well, get under the burden and lift it, accept the person regardless of the cost, become vulnerable in terms of accepting the person regardless of the cost, and then take your possessions and turn them over for God’s use when He needs them. That’s the formula for real helping in the things of God. You want to try that out? You see, that extends not only to having a meeting now and again in your house, it extends to your use of your automobile, for example.
Do you use your car for anything other than transporting yourself and your family? Ever used it for God’s work? Think about that for a while. It extends to your use of your extra time. You work 8 hours a day or 10 or whatever it may be. Some of us work 70 and 80 hours and more at the job and we do it ‘cause we love it, for Jesus’ sake. But whatever time you spend on the job, there’s still a little extra time that you have that you can use specifically for God’s work. Take your life and turn it over for God to use in terms of lifting the burden, becoming vulnerable to the other person’s need, and letting God use the material possessions with which He has trusted you. Good idea?
Dear Father today, grant to us to place our lives at Thy disposal to help others, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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