If you're going to work with somebody, you're going to have to spend some time establishing rapport then you can talk about things that count for eternity.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How are you? Or as I usually say, how in the world are you? You know I care how you are. Well, beloved, we’re looking at Romans 16. Paul has been talking about Phoebe, a “diakonos,” a servant of the church at Cenchrea and he points out that she has been a succourer, that’s a “prostatis,” a person who officially is delegated to caring for the affairs and wants of others and aiding them from her own resources. Small thought here, the index of how much help you are to somebody else is your willingness to assist them from what you do have at hand.
You know, the old song about the two people who said, “If you had a million dollars, would you give me half? Yes I would. If you had half a million dollars, would you give me half of that? Yes, I would. If you had a hundred dollars, would you give me 50? Yes, I would. If you had a dollar, would you give me 50 cents? Oh, go on now, you know I got a dollar.” When it comes right down to what’s in my pocket or in my bank account or in my tool chest or whatever it may be, when it comes right down to what I have right now, then, the question of helping somebody else looks a little different, doesn’t it, from the academic way in which we talk about helping people.
This is Proverbs 3:27, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” And then you could insert the word “now” “when it is in the power of thine hand to do it now. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee right now.” So this whole matter of this lady Phoebe and the fact that she had helped people, well, it’s down to the fact that she helped them from her own resources and the index, as I said, of your real value to other people boils down to the question, “What have you done for others with what you had at hand?”
It’s a pretty good question to ask, isn’t it? Now, he goes on in Romans 16:3, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus.” Now, there the word “helper” has to do with helping with the work and it’s the Greek word “sunergous” which means “work with” helpers, they work with me. If you’re going to help people, how do you approach it? Well, you find out the job that needs to be done and what they’re involved in and then you work alongside of them without getting in their way, without taking over, without giving orders, but you work with them.
This is a delicate process. Our tendency is to take over, isn’t it? You now so well how to build this house or fix this car or repair this flat tire or paint this room — whatever it may be, and in the process you say, “Come here, I’ll help you,” well, what you really do oftentimes, if you’re anything like me, we tend to take over. Now that isn’t helping, you see. Not in this sense. It says “working with the other person.” Now, in spiritual matters, for example, how can you be a helper to someone who is trying to serve God?
Well, let’s say that he has some calls to make. You say, “I’ll go with you.” and so you go with him but you don’t take over the conversation. You let him do the talking and you let him lead the prayer. And if there is a question of leading somebody to Christ, you let the other person put the questions that have to do with leading a person to commit themselves to the Savior. But your assistance is that you were with them and you were encouraging, not getting in the way, but working along with them.
Try this now in the day that lies before you. Some of you here, it’s at night so you can try it tomorrow when you wake up but for the most part, our audience is made up of people who listen in the morning. So you got a day ahead of you. Look around as you go on through the day and find people with whom you can work with, whom you can work. You can help to lift the burden a little not by taking over, not by getting in the way, not by being officious, but simply by lifting the load with them.
This is what Paul the apostle said that Priscilla and Aquilla had done. “My helpers in Christ Jesus.” How do you encourage a person in Christ? How do you work with them in the things of eternity? Have you given any thought to that? Well, first of all, I think you need to establish rapport so the other person feels safe with you and comfortable with you. There are some folk who when they approach you, you just have the sensation of stiffening a little somehow or other in your backbone and you feel apprehensive. Have you ever had that experience?
Somebody approaches you and you feel yourself getting on the defensive before they ever say a word because you know they’re apt to be critical of you. So if you’re going to help somebody in the things of eternity, it means you have to work at establishing rapport so they feel safe with you and feel comfortable with you. Now that takes time. Just to spend time with people. Before you can ever witness to your neighbor, you have to help him pull up his weeds or repair his fence or fix his lawnmower or whatever it may be. You have to be with him until he feels comfortable with you.
I can recall talking with a man in church and finding him strangely diffident and unresponsive and almost hostile. I knew however that he ran a garage and so the following week I looked him up, dropped in at his garage, and began to talk shop with him. I used to work on cars when I was in college and I knew a thing or two about it and so I began to talk with him about the work that he was doing. He had an automobile there where he was doing an entire engine overhaul, had the cylinder head off and the oil pan had been dropped off and the pistons and the connecting rods were taken out and he had a huge re-boring machine fitted into the cylinder block there and was working on it.
And so I said to him, “How many thousands over size are you boring this?” He looked at me oddly and he said, “Oh, about seven.” But he smiled and I knew that he felt good about the fact that here was somebody who appreciated what he’s doing. I said, “You know, this is more work than the average person realizes, isn’t it? People grumble about the garage bills but they don’t realize the work that is involved in taking a motor apart. I said just to take apart a motor is a job. Drain the fluid out, take off the valve cover, unscrew the cylinder head, drop the oil pan, remember to drain the oil first or it all goes over into your face when you’re lying under there, drain the oil, drop the oil pan, unfasten the connecting rods, and pull the pistons, and then take the pistons rings off the piston, and if there’s a little play in the wrist pins, you fit new wrist pins, or if you’re going to re-bore the motor, you get new pistons and new piston rings and new wrist pins and you have to put that altogether and it has to fit.”
The man looked at me and said, “You do understand, don’t you?” By this time, he was completely relaxed. No more hostility, no more diffidence, no more withdrawing from me. He was my friend. Here, I had walked into his shop and I appreciated what he was doing. I’ve had the same experience in a body shop. I’d go into a body repair shop and I’d say to somebody, “You know, the average person doesn’t realize all you have to do here. Not only do you have to get the dents out of that fender, but then you have to sand it down and put on a coat of primer and then you have to sand that down and smooth it and then you have to put on a coat of paint first having matched it completely so that the color is an exact match and then you have to sand that down after it dries and finally put on another coat and it’s a lot of work.”
The man said, “Boy, I didn’t think you knew about that.” Well, you don’t have to know much about or let me put it this way, you don’t have to know everything about person’s work to show him that you appreciate what he’s doing, right? I came for dinner the other day to somebody’s house. And I just gave a quick look around and I could see that everything in that house was shining. Now, the average man misses these things and I’m pretty average, I don’t bother examining the condition of the house in which I happen to be visiting.
But it struck me as I just looked at the house, I could see everything was shining. It was beautifully cleaned and ready and so I looked at the hostess and I said, “You know, you have broken your back to make this house shine. I can see that you really have worked hard to make it beautiful. And I know,” I said, “that that sort of thing doesn’t do itself. You must have worked very hard to get ready for this occasion.” And she looked at me with some appreciation. She said, “Well, Mr. Cook, yes I did work. But,” she said, “I wanted it to be nice when you came.”
I appreciate that and I think she appreciated the appreciation. There was a sense of relaxation at that point. We understood each other, you know? Now, what I’m talking about is this word “working with people.” The start of it is to establish rapport where people feel comfortable with you. You have to find a way to do that. There isn’t any text book that will give you 1-2-3 procedure on this but find what a person is interested in, find what burdens him, find what he is trying hard to achieve, whatever it may be, and establish some sense of being comfortable with each other.
Somewhere I read that if you’re going to compliment a person, don’t compliment him on what he knows he’s doing well. Compliment him on what he’s trying to achieve. That’s a pretty good idea, isn’t it? You come into a shop that’s being run well and you can see that everything is under control, you go into the boss’s office and you say, “Man, you run a tight ship here, everything seems to be going so well and he will probably just grunt and say, “Yeah, I know.” But if you look up on the sideboard there behind his desk and you see a plaque that’s dedicated to the Golf Duffer of the year, then you smile and you ask him, “How’s your golf?” And he relaxes and then says, “Well, I’m still trying to break 80.”
The old saying is “When you break a hundred, watch your golf; when you break 80, watch your business.” But in any case, you have talked to him about something that he’s trying to accomplish. You get the idea? If you’re going to work with somebody, you’re going to have to spend some time establishing rapport then you can talk about things that count for eternity.
Dear Father today, make us helpers, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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