Plain Papers for Young Believers: Working for Christ

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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. Perhaps 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. 11:1515But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. (1 Corinthians 11:15)). Who then are Christ’s feet now? The answer is not hard to give—not the poor, merely as such (John 12:88For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. (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 object: We are created in Christ unto good works (Eph. 2:1010For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)); we are also exhorted to be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8-148This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. 9But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. 12When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. 13Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. 14And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. (Titus 3:8‑14)); to be fruitful in them (Col. 1:1010That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:10)); to be perfect in them (Heb. 13:2121Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:21)); to be prepared or ready to every good work (2 Tim. 2:2121If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:21); Titus 3:11Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, (Titus 3:1)); to be rich in them (1 Tim. 6:1818That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; (1 Timothy 6:18)); to be established in them (2 Thess. 2:1717Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. (2 Thessalonians 2:17)); to be zealous in them (Titus 2:1414Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)); to abound in them (2 Cor. 9:88And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (2 Corinthians 9:8)); and to provoke one another to them (Heb. 10:2424And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (Hebrews 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?
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 7:1717If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)); there must be first a willing mind (2 Cor. 8:1212For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. (2 Corinthians 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 22:1212And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (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!’”