Are We Content to Be Instruments, Not Doers?

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
If we may be permitted to speak for others, I fear we are in danger of aiming at being doers, instead of being content to be merely instruments. We are apt to forget that there is but the One great and glorious Doer. The works that are done upon the earth, God is the Doer of them. This is a weighty truth to keep ever in remembrance. God is the Doer; we are but instruments. If we become doers, we shall be sure to do mischief, and play into the hands of the enemy instead of being to the glory and praise of the one great Worker. Moreover, we shall fall into the snare of the devil, and do serious damage to our own souls and to the cause of Christ.
The only place of true moral security is to be at the blessed Master’s feet, as instruments, ready for His work, whatever that work may be—vessels meet for His use, whatever that use may be. If we, in the mere energy of nature, and the restless activity of an unbroken will, rush hither and thither, as wonderful doers and active workers, the consequences may prove disastrous in the extreme.
We live in a day specially marked by the actings of self-will, and that, too, in connection with the Lord’s work. Hence the need of lowliness of spirit, brokenness of will, and holy subduedness on the part of all the Lord’s beloved servants. Our retirement from the principles and the spirit of the scene around us cannot be too profound; and the only way to secure this retirement is to abide at the Master’s feet, in absolute subjection to His holy authority in all things. There we are safe and happy; there, too, we shall ever be in an attitude of heart, and in a condition of soul, to be taken up, and used as instruments in the Master’s work, and to His praise.
It lies not within the range of human language to set forth the reality and blessedness of being in the presence of God, in true self-emptiness and dependence. There is, on all hands, such danger of using even the service of Christ as a pedestal on which to display ourselves. This is terrible. Who would ever think, as he gazes upon some exquisite piece of workmanship, of praising the tools by which it was made? So, if the Lord deigns to use us in His service, what folly, yes, what sin, in us to be occupied with ourselves, as though we had accomplished anything! It is marvelous grace, most surely, that can stoop to take up such poor things as we are and use us in that blessed work which our God is carrying on, whether in gathering or feeding the flock of Christ; but the work is His, not ours; we are instruments, not doers. When a gardener waters his drooping plants, and causes them to emit their fragrance, Who thinks of praising the watering pot? And yet the watering pot has its place. Truly so; but it is a watering pot, not a gardener; an instrument, not a doer.
This is the true secret of all our joy of heart, all our fruitfulness in service, and all our safety from the wiles of the enemy. Let us keep close to the side of our ever-gracious Lord, safe, and satisfied. Then we shall always be ready to carry His messages, and do His will. We shall be His feet, to run to the bedside of some afflicted member of His body, and give him a cup of consolation. We shall be His mouth, to speak a word in season to some weary one. We shall be His hands, to supply the need of some of His beloved poor. In a word, we shall be His instruments, ready for His work; and when the work is done, instead of thinking of the work, or the way we have done it, we shall find our place at His feet, in homage and adoration, “lost in wonder, love, and praise,” at the sovereign grace that deigns to take up such as we, and confer upon us the privilege of being His instruments in His blessed work.
I remember, many years ago, being asked by a minister, “Did you come here to organize a body?” “I organize a body!” I replied. “God forbid! It would be a sorry body I should organize. I should be sure to gather a lot of rubbish, to be scattered by the first storm. No, no; thank God, it is none of my business to organize a body. Do you not know that God the Holy Spirit came down to this earth, on the day of Pentecost, to form the body of Christ? —That is the only body, and that the only organization which I recognize.”
And so in all beside; in every sphere of work, in every department of ministry, God is the Doer. Blessed fact! Did we all but abide in the sense of it, and live in the power of it, what a different tale we should have to tell! What a different state of things we should witness! What different results we should reach! But, alas! we rush about in bustling self-importance; we get occupied with ourselves and our work, our gift, and our ministry. Thus the Holy Spirit is grieved and hindered, Christ is dishonored, and God cannot own the work; no, rather He has to take the instruments aside, and, by His faithful and wise discipline, correct their errors, and teach them that they are but instruments. What marvelous grace on His part, to occupy Himself with our failures and errors, in order to deliver us from them, and fit us for His holy service! Oh, the ineffable blessedness of having to do with our God, of being in His hands for everything! Who would not praise Him, and trust Him, and love Him, and serve Him? “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
“Let our feebleness recline
On that eternal love of Thine,
And human thoughts forget;
Childlike attend what Thou wilt say,
Go forth, and serve Thee while ‘tis day,
Nor leave the sweet retreat.”
C. H. M.