Working for Christ
In our last paper we briefly considered the Christian's walk, his life, himself in short, as practically shown in this world. We now turn to consider his work, a subject as distinct, as we have seen, as a man's life and habits are from his daily business, although he may carry the one into the other. Per haps it can hardly be said which is the more important, when both are supremely so; still this at least is clear, that the walk must come first, and that work only is right which is accompanied by and flows from a godly walk.
Mary and Martha
There can be no doubt as to the importance of this question which some would exalt at the expense of the inner life, others vice versa. The latter often think they are taking Mary's part, and that workers are only Marthas after all, forgetful that the most blessed work ever done on earth was done by Mary (John 12), who lavished her money and care on the Lord's feet, at which also she laid her glory (1 Cor.11:15). Who then are Christ's feet now? The answer is not hard to give — not the poor, merely as such (John 12:8), but the poor of His flock on every side of us needing our love and care.
What Scripture Says
Let us just glance at what Scripture has to say on the subject: We are created in Christ unto good works (Eph.2:10); we are also exhorted to be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8-14); to be fruitful in them (Col.1:10); to be perfect in them (Heb.13:21); to be prepared or ready to every good work (2 Tim.2:21; Titus 3:1); to be rich in them (1 Tim.6:18); to be established in them (2 Thess.2:17); to be zealous in them (Titus 2:14); to abound in them (2 Cor.9:8); and to provoke one another to them (Heb.10:24). Beloved reader, what do we really know of all this ?
One thing we must be very clear about, and that is, because we have got salvation without working, we are not to lead idle lives ever afterward, put to shame by earnest though mistaken souls who are, alas, thinking to win heaven by their good deeds. On the contrary, every Christian has his work to do in this world for Christ
What is My Work?
Dear reader, do you know yours? or is it possible that having been a Christian one year, two years, ten years, twenty years, as you read this you find it impossible to answer the question clearly and decidedly, What is my work in this world for Christ? The night is far spent, but it is not yet gone; let us then who are “not of the night,” but “of the day,” wake up and cease to slumber in our privileges, and begin our long neglected work at once.
But what is my work? you say.
Ah, that is a sad question for us to have to ask if we have been Christians any time at all; but if sincerely asked of God, even though late, it will surely be answered. It is surely a most important question, for we are all members of Christ's body, and the hand cannot do the seeing, nor the eye the walking, nor the feet the talking, nor the tongue the working. The head alone can rightly set each part of the body its appointed work.
Are you then doing nothing for Christ?
Well, I try and live like a Christian.
That is well, but you have to work for the Lord too. What work do you do for Him?
I am afraid I don't do any!
So it is then true that if you died this moment, no soul on earth beyond the circle of nature would miss you? Alas! I have heard those who have been Christians for years confess such was the case, so useless did they feel in this world of woe and need. I am sure that many of us are quite unaware of the selfish and idle lives we often lead. We have got so accustomed to think that if we avoid gross sins, if we are pretty regular in our reading and prayer and in our attendance at meetings and services, that we have done all that can be required of us, that we are positively surprised to hear that we are not quite so satisfactory in the Lord's eyes as in our own, and that for years we have been neglecting, utterly neglecting, the Lord's work, our work, and it may be adding to our own sin, by hindering, finding fault with, or looking down upon, those who are more diligent than ourselves. Let no readers of these pages rest satisfied until they both know their work and are doing it.
God Will Guide the Willing
But again the question is asked, How am I to know what my work is?
The best way is to find out what gifts the Lord has bestowed upon you, and what sphere He has given you to use them in. This, well considered with prayer, will help greatly. God's principle is, “If any man will do His will” (John 7:17); there must be first a willing mind (2 Cor.8:12). If the Lord sees you humbly taking up what is nearest your hand in dependence upon Him, He will show you if He would have you continue in it; or if not, He will certainly lead you into what He has ready for you. Study the parables of the talents and the pounds, and see what bearing they have on this subject—also Revelation 22:12.
Christ Must be the Object
We must be clear in our work that Christ is the Object— not that we are not to delight in it, and be zealous and active in it, but even in our hearts, the motive, the mainspring that produces the zeal and activity, must be Christ. Otherwise the work may be useful, and may be highly praised of men, but we shall get no reward, and our work loses its character of a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor to the Lord. It is the fragrance of Christ's name that gives the value to all we do in God's sight. Busy bodies are no more use to God than lazy bodies, and are often more hurtful to others.
There is Work Ready for You
The variety of work is endless, and may range from pastoral care over hundreds of God's people to giving a cup of cold water in Christ's name. There is work suited to each and there is work suited to you. Take the most difficult possible position for active service—that of a young girl brought up in the seclusion of the family circle, which she has not yet left, it may be with no opportunities of visiting the poor (though this is very rare), what can she do? What can she not do? if she has a heart is rather the question. Has she unconverted relatives and friends, any for whose souls she particularly cares? Can she not do a real work for Christ by sending them regularly, it may be unknown to them, gospel books and papers, accompanying each with earnest prayers? And when that relative or friend is saved, none may know save the Master and the workman to whose instrumentality it is due. Prayer, definitely continued for others, is a very real work for the Lord. But all work involves some amount of self-denial, and above all steady perseverance. How many lives of service have been given up through want of this one necessary quality!
Idleness Injures Everybody
The Lord's work must be done; if we do not do it, He often has to set others to do our work; but, of course, if the hand is paralyzed, and the foot has to act in its stead, it cannot do the work as well, especially as it has its own besides. Idleness, therefore, is a great evil, causing not only some to suffer from neglect, but others, who are willing, to be overworked; and after all the work is not so well done. Consider then if ever you are tempted to criticize the work of another, whether that servant may not be doing double duty for some lazy Christian who will do nothing, and it may be that “thou art the man.”
Let us then encourage one another in the work of the Lord, and see that none of us are mere lookers-on, for a looker-on is generally a fault-finder. Let us remember too that our labor is not in vain in the Lord, but that our loving Master is only too glad to give each one His full meed of praise for every bit of work done in His name, and that will therefore stand in the fire.
The time is short, and much has been wasted by all of us; before the Lord's return then let each of us be found steadily at our posts working for Christ.
“With the first faint blush of morning,
Hasting from thy still retreat,
Labor on until the evening,
Heedless of the noontide heat.
“Labor till the far horizon
Paleth with the setting sun;
Then the Master's voice shall greet thee
With the welcome words, ‘Well done!'”
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