Helps: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

1 Corinthians 12:28  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
This little word occurs in the first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 12:28, where the inspired writer enumerates the various gifts and orders of ministry in the assembly. "God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."
Now there is what we may call a beautiful undefinedness about the term "helps." We can see at a glance, and understand fully what is meant by an apostle, a prophet, a teacher, a miracle, a gift of healing, a government, a tongue.
But the full import of the term "helps" is not just so easily seized. It indicates a very wide field of happy and important Christian service. There are many persons in the assembly who could not be said to possess any specific gift; they are not evangelists, pastors, or teachers; but they can render effectual help to those who are.
You may sometimes find a man who is quite incompetent to take any part in public ministry, and yet he exerts a far more powerful influence for good than one who takes a prominent place. He is not a preacher or lecturer, but he takes a deep interest in the work of such. He has no thought of occupying the desk or the platform; but it does the heart good to see the way in which he opens the door for you, leads you to a seat, hands you a Bible and hymnbook.
His heart is in the work, and he is ready to do anything or everything to further the good cause. There is a genial brightness and self-forgetting elasticity about the man, rendering him a most delightful element in the assembly and in the work. He is ready for every good work—ready to serve all who may need his service. No matter what you want done, he is your man. Go to him when you will, or with what you will, he is always at your service. Difficulties are nothing to him. He only views them as an occasion for the display of energy. He is not encumbered with crotchets. He does not believe in them. His heart is free—his spirit fresh and bright. He loves Christ and His people, His servants and their work. He takes a profound interest in the progress of the gospel—in the salvation of souls—in the prosperity and growth of God's people. He is not self-occupied. He delights to see the work done, no matter who does it. He is ready to sweep the floor if needs be—ready to help in every possible way in which effective help may be rendered.
Have we any difficulty in assigning such a one his place in the category of gifts? None whatever. He is one of the "helps"—a most blessed and valuable element. Would that we had more of such. We pray for evangelists, for pastors, and teachers, and so we should, for we want them sadly. But we should pray for "helps" also, for they exert a marvelous influence for good wherever they are found.
We have little idea of how much the blessing of God's people and the progress of His work are promoted by that class of persons indicated by the brief, but comprehensive, term "helps." You may often hear a man say, "Oh, I am not an evangelist or a teacher. I do not possess any gift for speaking." Well, but you can be a help. You may not be a preacher or a teacher, but you can very effectually co-operate with such in a thousand ways. You can hold up his hands, and encourage his heart, and refresh his spirit, and further his work in numberless and nameless little ways which, you may rest assured, are most grateful to the heart of Jesus, and will be amply rewarded in the day of His coming glory.
It is a very great mistake, indeed, to suppose that no one can help the Lord's people or the Lord's work unless he has some special gift. Every one has his own place to fill, his work to do. Every bird has his own note, except the mockingbird. This latter has nothing of its own, but mimics the notes of others. How much better to be real and simple—to give forth my own note, even though it be but the note of a robin—than to be seeking to imitate the thrush or the nightingale.
What we really want is a heart for the Lord's work. Where there is this, it will not be a question as to my gift. I shall be ready for every good work. Even though my gift may be most distinct, I should hold myself in constant readiness to lend a helping hand to others, to put my shoulder to the wheel, to further the blessed work in every possible way. Gift
or no gift, if I really love Christ, I shall seek to promote His cause and His glory. If I cannot preach the gospel, I can seek to gather the people; I can make them welcome. I can prove that my whole soul is in the work, and thus give a holy impetus to others. I can help by prayer, by my presence, by my very look. A genial heart, a bright happy spirit, a mind free from petty and detestable jealousies, a cordial well-wisher may prove a most delightful "help" to the work and the workman.
Beloved Christian reader, let us give ourselves to earnest prayer that the Lord may be pleased to develop in our midst that most interesting and valuable agency suggested by the heading of this paper. And may we all seek to do what we can for the furtherance of the cause and glory of that blessed One who gave His life to rescue us from everlasting burnings.