Have you ever gone to someone that you thought could help you only to discover that they are ill equipped and unprepared to help? Or perhaps you have tried to help others and feel like you did more damage than good. How can one called on to help end up being unhelpful? The apostles were challenged to answer this question after an epic failure. In Mark 9:14-29, the apostles prove to be unhelpful help. What was it that led to their inability to help someone who needed the help?
There are at least three reasons why the apostles failed in the task for which they were empowered to perform. Those reasons provide us with some insight as to why we are at times unhelpful in our help.
The apostles deceived by their strength. The disciples were powerless because their trust was in the wrong place. It appears that they forgot that it was their faith that gave them their power. Often when we think of faithlessness, we think of not believing that something can be done. But that is not the only demonstration of faithlessness. We are also faithless when we think we can do something without the power of God. There are times when we have success in our lives and we think that we have the Midas touch. We think that we are the driving force behind our success. However, the activating force behind our success is the Spirit of the Lord.
Secondly, they were distracted from their charge. When Jesus comes down from the mountain, the Bible lets us know that the disciples were arguing with the scribes, which meant they were no longer trying to help the man who brought his son. Arguing was not part of their commission. So often, we are distracted from our charge. While there is a place for apologetics and the defense of the gospel, most of the arguing that we do has nothing to do with the gospel. Meanwhile, people are still dying without Christ. Our charge is to go and make disciples and share the gospel with the lost. Our charge is to do good every time we have an opportunity, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Our charge is to encourage one another. Our charge is to love the Lord with all that we are, love our neighbor as ourselves and love one another as Christ has loved us. Don’t let the devil distract you from your charge.
Finally, they were disconnected from God in prayer. Once they are behind closed doors, the disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the demon. Jesus lets them know that the demon was an advanced demon. So because the demon was on another level, prayer was necessary. Our work as Christians must be bathed in prayer. While our ministry is to be done in the name or by the authority of Jesus, that’s not enough. There are some things in our lives and in the lives of others that can only be accomplished through prayer. The lines of communication need to be open between heaven and earth for something to happen. If we want to be helpful help, we must abide in the power of God, avoid the distractions of the world and pray for God’s empowerment in all that we do for his glory.
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Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.