When I first heard this principle regarding God's Word, I had a moment of "felt annoyance". I immediately thought of times when the well-meaning and good-intentions of helpfulness from others was not helpful at all. At least, not in the way that I was defining help.
And I am quite certain that I have trespassed in the same manner towards others regarding helpfulness. IOW, helpfulness does not mean being another's personal Holy Spirit. Neither is helpfulness found in refusing to confront error or to lower standards in an enlargement of tolerance. A friend once told me that she saw two outworkings of helpfulness. One outworking resulted in discouragement because disapproving criticism was at its base. The second outworking resulted in empowerment because encouraging accountability was at its base.
The second is the type of helpfulness I am defining here. Helpfulness is a key part of how God's people are to read and understand and most importantly, interpret God's Word. First, one must read God's Word to themselves to receive conviction that brings repentance and secondly, one must share with others the truth of His Words trusting how His Spirit works in their lives for conviction and repentance. His Words in all their tough conviction, in all their mighty hope, in all their clear instruction, stern warning and assured promises are meant to help, to lift up, to embolden to righteous action the people whom He sanctifies.
The most unhelpful thing a believer can do is to ignore, or worse, reject the helpfulness of God's words. The practicing part of that role in a believer is to exercise helpfulness towards his neighbor in the right interpretation of God's word.
And man, does it get sticky there! Because the qualifications of interpretation, the principles of interpretation, the application of interpretation is like the promise to Abraham, defined as more than the grains of sand. More than that, in all our different maturing stages of sanctification, a consistent interpretation and application has more bad starts and backfires than a Chevy with bad gasoline.
What do you do, then?
Holding to the previous seven principles regarding the Word of God as a hermeneutic for interpretation is a good first start. A second thing is that a believer who wishes to practice helpfulness requires the quality of discernment. Charles Spurgeon defined discernment this way:
Discernment is not discerning between right and wrong; discernment is knowing the difference correctly between right and almost right--to discern deception.
Ouch. it is definitely not a wide and easy way. But it is the hard and right way. One at which I am still walking and stumbling, sometimes succeeding and often failing. Thank God that His Word is always true and will never fail.
Pshaw on my felt annoyance. Get on with His work, child. Yes, Sir.