The Work and the Life
God is the source of life and light and joy to the universe. Like rays
of light from the sun, like the streams of water bursting from a living
spring, blessings flow out from Him to all His creatures. And wherever the
life of God is in the hearts of men, it will flow out to others in love
Our Saviour's joy was in the uplifting and redemption of fallen men.
For this He counted not His life dear unto Himself, but endured the cross,
despising the shame. So angels are ever engaged in working for the
happiness of others. This is their joy. That which selfish hearts would
regard as humiliating service, ministering to those who are wretched and
in every way inferior in character and rank, is the work of sinless
angels. The spirit of Christ's self-sacrificing love is the spirit that
pervades heaven and is the very essence of its bliss. This is the spirit
that Christ's followers will possess, the work that they will do.
When the love of Christ is enshrined in the heart, like sweet fragrance
it cannot be hidden. Its holy influence will be felt by all with whom we
come in contact. The spirit of Christ in the heart is like a spring in the
desert, flowing to refresh all and making those who are ready to perish,
eager to drink of the water of life.
Love to Jesus will be manifested in a desire to work as He worked for
the blessing and uplifting of humanity. It will lead to love, tenderness,
and sympathy toward all the creatures of our heavenly Father's care.
The Saviour's life on earth was not a life of ease and devotion to
Himself, but He toiled with persistent, earnest, untiring effort for the
salvation of lost mankind. From the manger to Calvary He followed the path
of self-denial and sought not to be released from arduous tasks, painful
travels and exhausting care and labor. He said, "The Son of man came
not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom
for many." Matthew 20:28. This was the one great object of His life.
Everything else was secondary and subservient. It was His meat and drink
to do the will of God and to finish His work. Self and self-interest had
no part in His labor.
So those who are the partakers of the grace of Christ will be ready to
make any sacrifice, that others for whom He died may share the heavenly
gift. They will do all they can to make the world better for their stay in
it. This spirit is the sure outgrowth of a soul truly converted. No sooner
does one come to Christ than there is born in his heart a desire to make
known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus; the saving
and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart. If we are clothed
with the righteousness of Christ and are filled with the joy of His
indwelling Spirit, we shall not be able to hold our peace. If we have
tasted and seen that the Lord is good we shall have something to tell.
Like Philip when he found the Saviour, we shall invite others into His
presence. We shall seek to present to them the attractions of Christ and
the unseen realities of the world to come. There will be an intensity of
desire to follow in the path that Jesus trod. There will be an earnest
longing that those around us may "behold the Lamb of God, which
taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29.
And the effort to bless others will react in blessings upon ourselves.
This was the purpose of God in giving us a part to act in the plan of
redemption. He has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the
divine nature and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellow
men. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for
God to bestow upon men. Those who thus become participants in labors of
love are brought nearest to their Creator.
God might have committed the message of the gospel, and all the work of
loving ministry, to the heavenly angels. He might have employed other
means for accomplishing His purpose. But in His infinite love He chose to
make us co-workers with Himself, with Christ and the angels, that we might
share the blessing, the joy, the spiritual uplifting, which results from
this unselfish ministry.
We are brought into sympathy with Christ through the fellowship of His
sufferings. Every act of self-sacrifice for the good of others strengthens
the spirit of beneficence in the giver's heart, allying him more closely
to the Redeemer of the world, who "was rich, yet for your sakes . . .
became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." 2
Corinthians 8:9. And it is only as we thus fulfill the divine purpose in
our creation that life can be a blessing to us.
If you will go to work as Christ designs that His disciples shall, and
win souls for Him, you will feel the need of a deeper experience and a
greater knowledge in divine things, and will hunger and thirst after
righteousness. You will plead with God, and your faith will be
strengthened, and your soul will drink deeper drafts at the well of
salvation. Encountering opposition and trials will drive you to the Bible
and prayer. You will grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ, and will
develop a rich experience.
The spirit of unselfish labor for others gives depth, stability, and
Christlike loveliness to the character, and brings peace and happiness to
its possessor. The aspirations are elevated. There is no room for sloth or
selfishness. Those who thus exercise the Christian graces will grow and
will become strong to work for God. They will have clear spiritual
perceptions, a steady, growing faith, and an increased power in prayer.
The Spirit of God, moving upon their spirit, calls forth the sacred
harmonies of the soul in answer to the divine touch. Those who thus devote
themselves to unselfish effort for the good of others are most surely
working out their own salvation.
The only way to grow in grace is to be disinterestedly doing the very
work which Christ has enjoined upon us--to engage, to the extent of our
ability, in helping and blessing those who need the help we can give them.
Strength comes by exercise; activity is the very condition of life. Those
who endeavor to maintain Christian life by passively accepting the
blessings that come through the means of grace, and doing nothing for
Christ, are simply trying to live by eating without working. And in the
spiritual as in the natural world, this always results in degeneration and
decay. A man who would refuse to exercise his limbs would soon lose all
power to use them. Thus the Christian who will not exercise his God-given
powers not only fails to grow up into Christ, but he loses the strength
that he already had.
The church of Christ is God's appointed agency for the salvation of
men. Its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. And the obligation
rests upon all Christians. Everyone, to the extent of his talent and
opportunity, is to fulfill the Saviour's commission. The love of Christ,
revealed to us, makes us debtors to all who know Him not. God has given us
light, not for ourselves alone, but to shed upon them.
If the followers of Christ were awake to duty, there would be thousands
where there is one today proclaiming the gospel in heathen lands. And all
who could not personally engage in the work, would yet sustain it with
their means, their sympathy, and their prayers. And there would be far
more earnest labor for souls in Christian countries.
We need not go to heathen lands, or even leave the narrow circle of the
home, if it is there that our duty lies, in order to work for Christ. We
can do this in the home circle, in the church, among those with whom we
associate, and with whom we do business.
The greater part of our Saviour's life on earth was spent in patient
toil in the carpenter's shop at Nazareth. Ministering angels attended the
Lord of life as He walked side by side with peasants and laborers,
unrecognized and unhonored. He was as faithfully fulfilling His mission
while working at His humble trade as when He healed the sick or walked
upon the storm-tossed waves of Galilee. So in the humblest duties and
lowliest positions of life, we may walk and work with Jesus.
The apostle says, "Let every man, wherein he is called, therein
abide with God." 1 Corinthians 7:24. The businessman may conduct his
business in a way that will glorify his Master because of his fidelity. If
he is a true follower of Christ he will carry his religion into everything
that is done and reveal to men the spirit of Christ. The mechanic may be a
diligent and faithful representative of Him who toiled in the lowly walks
of life among the hills of Galilee. Everyone who names the name of Christ
should so work that others, by seeing his good works, may be led to
glorify their Creator and Redeemer.
Many have excused themselves from rendering their gifts to the service
of Christ because others were possessed of superior endowments and
advantages. The opinion has prevailed that only those who are especially
talented are required to consecrate their abilities to the service of God.
It has come to be understood by many that talents are given to only a
certain favored class to the exclusion of others who of course are not
called upon to share in the toils or the rewards. But it is not so
represented in the parable. When the master of the house called his
servants, he gave to every man his work.
With a loving spirit we may perform life's humblest duties "as to
the Lord." Colossians 3:23. If the love of God is in the heart, it
will be manifested in the life. The sweet savor of Christ will surround
us, and our influence will elevate and bless.
You are not to wait for great occasions or to expect extraordinary
abilities before you go to work for God. You need not have a thought of
what the world will think of you. If your daily life is a testimony to the
purity and sincerity of your faith, and others are convinced that you
desire to benefit them, your efforts will not be wholly lost.
The humblest and poorest of the disciples of Jesus can be a blessing to
others. They may not realize that they are doing any special good, but by
their unconscious influence they may start waves of blessing that will
widen and deepen, and the blessed results they may never know until the
day of final reward. They do not feel or know that they are doing anything
great. They are not required to weary themselves with anxiety about
success. They have only to go forward quietly, doing faithfully the work
that God's providence assigns, and their life will not be in vain. Their
own souls will be growing more and more into the likeness of Christ; they
are workers together with God in this life and are thus fitting for the
higher work and the unshadowed joy of the life to come.