“Jesus stood and cried, saying…he that believeth on me…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37–38). “The Holy Ghost in us, revealing Christ, becomes, by dwelling in us when we have believed, a river in us, and thus for others.” With this truth in mind I thought we might look at how we are to be a “channel of blessing” to others. As the hymn in the old gospel hymn books asks, “Is your life a channel of blessing?”
- A channel, to be effective, requires a point of intake. In the above text we are given such information: “He that believeth in me.” This is where everything must begin, for it is quite useless for anyone to aspire to be a channel of blessing for others unless he has experienced the blessing for himself. It may seem unnecessary to say this, but the fact is that there are hundreds of men and women in Sunday Schools and other work of this kind who have not been converted. Before the blessing can flow out, it must be received into the heart. “Out of his INWARD PARTS shall flow rivers of living water.” It is not in him that the source of blessing is located but in the One in whom he has believed. “He that believeth on ME,” is what is vital and indispensable. So, we have to begin with this truth that a real channel of blessing to a needy world must be a CONVERTED person. It was with this truth that the Samaritan woman, in John 4, had to begin: “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” A true channel must be a person who has received eternal life. In John 7 the Lord Jesus speaks of the outflow to others, but it must have its initial inflow, as reported in John 4.
- To be of real service a channel must be fully CONNECTED to the source of supply. There may seem to be little difference between this point and the first thought, but there is a distinction. The fact that I have been converted does not, in itself, make me an effective channel. Many young Christians are encouraged to “give their testimony,” and while sometimes useful, at times this has the effect of making them occupied, unhealthily, with themselves and their own experience. The living waters are not in me or in my experience; they are found in Christ, by the Spirit, and the connection must be firmly made there. In the Vine allegory told by the Lord Jesus in John 15, He said to his disciples: “Without ME ye can do nothing.” The word translated “without” means apart from or separated from. If the tendril of a vine becomes severed from the stem it will wither and die; it has no life on its own, but lives and bears fruit only as it is livingly part of the vine and drawing its sap from that source. So far as effective service is concerned, no one can be a channel of blessing unless he is vitally in union with the Source of blessing and is engaged in bringing help from that source to those who need it. A believer’s witness for the Lord could only be effective if fully and firmly linked with Him in his own life and service.
- A channel’s real purpose is to CONVEY supplies to a point of delivery. Believers have not been blessed to sit and “hug their blessing to their own bosom,” but to be channels of blessing for others. In another figure Paul tells the Corinthians that God has “shone in our hearts for the shining forth of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). He has graciously directed that precious light into our hearts that we might be lights for Him in a dark and needy world. Not all of us have the same function or the same abilities. Some will be used by the Master in one form of service and some in another. Although Moses and Aaron were both typical men, they also lived their individual lives as believers and were different in their service. So, also, were David and Solomon and many others. In this way we, too, have our particular form of service: “To every man his work.” Whatever the Master of all the work has planned for us to do, that is our responsibility. As channels the important thing for us is to convey whatever is committed to our trust to the point of delivery. As we take in, we are to pour out. We cannot give out what we have not taken in; but, there is also the other side of the truth: What we have received on behalf of others is our responsibility. We must deliver it. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians how he accomplished his service as a channel. In the first epistle (11:23) he refers to what he had received from the Lord and how he delivered it to them; then in chapter 15:3 he again mentions that he had delivered to them what he had received of the Lord for them. In the first instance the source is emphasized. It was the Lord who communicated to him what he was to convey to the saints. In the second instance, it is the fact that he faithfully delivered the message that is underlined.
- Then, a channel must be CLEAN if it is to convey the substance that goes through it unpolluted. None of us would seek to pass himself off as sinless. Indeed, it has been remarked that the most devoted of believers have been most conscious of failure. That being accepted, we cannot, nevertheless, be channels of blessing to others if our own lives are tainted by sinful practices. We are to be clean. Even under the law it was ordered: “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Isaiah 52:11). Perhaps this text could be paraphrased as, “Be ye clean that are channels for the Lord.” If we are to be effective as channels of blessing, we must be free from the pollutions that are common in the society around us and are accepted in the world today as almost normal.
- A channel of blessing would have to be CLEAR of any blockages if it would be useful. There are many things which may not be classed as sinful, perhaps, but which are hindering elements. What I mean is that undue attention to hobbies, leisure activities, business matters and other interests, could be thought of as hindering the outflow of blessing, while not being actually evil. It is right, of course, that we should attend to many of these matters, but UNDUE emphasis on something may prove to be a blockage. Each believer has to examine these things for himself and make the necessary decision on whatever adjustment may be needed, to keep the channel clear.
- A channel of blessing should be CONSTANT. There is no need for it to be conspicuous, but great blessing is often experienced where dependable Christian service is carried on quietly before the Lord and for His glory. I was told by a friend who lived for long in Kenya that a local water supply suddenly ceased. The supply had been maintained by a ram (a kind of pump that is actuated by water power alone) that had been installed so long before that no one knew where it was located. So, it became necessary to trace the supply pipe to the small fall where the ram had been installed years previously. It had faithfully, and unseen, continued its valuable work. It was found that a washer had become worn, and when this was replaced, at little cost, it resumed its useful work. Faithfulness to a commitment is a valuable part of service. In stewardship, this seems to be a prime necessity. “It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” Occasional or intermittent service is not so valuable as constancy in work.
- A Christian who seeks to fulfil a function as a channel of blessing needs to have COMPASSION. Any work of this kind is demanding; it takes time, effort, and one has to be engaged in it wholly. Nothing that costs less is as effective. There can be no doubt in anyone’s heart that the Lord Jesus gave His blessed service in this way, more fully, of course, that anyone else could serve. We read, “Jesus…was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.” Again and again we can see how His tender heart was touched by man’s sad condition and how He served in that spirit. A service which is cold, heartless, and devoid of feeling, will certainly fail.