•  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The next thing we read is, the Lord gives "to every man his work." Most gladdening word! How free it makes the bond slaves of Jesus Christ! He Himself has portioned out to each his service.
In worldly affairs no genuine servant would serve without authority, nor take orders, save from his master. Now, as the Lord gives to every man his work, it is evident that every servant of His needs to take his orders from the Lord Himself. It is a great thing in our Christian lives to know what our own work is. If we each did our own work we should not have an idle moment on our hands all our lives long. The strifes amongst the servants that so mar Christian work would cease, if Christians did their respective work at the command of Christ Himself. We know well that idle people always find time to spy out other people's work. The sluggard, whose garden is full of weeds, busies himself in looking over his neighbor's wall, and in criticizing his digging and planting. But, ye zealous servants of the Lord, the best way to free yourselves from the annoyance of sluggards is to keep so busily on with your own duties that you cannot attend to their criticism.
Let us, each one, take to ourselves this exhortation, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." (2 Tim. 2:1515Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15).) If a preacher or Sunday-school teacher is as heavy today as he was a year ago, he needs to be ashamed; if the visitor of the sick is as slow in spiritual discernment to-day as he was a twelvemonth ago, he needs to be ashamed. No improvement during the last three hundred and sixty-five days! In spiritual things there is no such thing as serving a term of apprenticeship, and then reaching to an acknowledged standard, for the whole life of the servant on earth is one capable of practical progress. We should be more able rightly to divide the word of truth after a year's Bible reading than before; if not, we have hardly studied to show ourselves approved unto God. Let us seek and pray to get on in divine things, and long and strive to improve as servants, for our time of serving our God on earth is coming to its close.
We have thus far two great principles before us—individual authority and individual duty—both received directly from the Master. The question now arises, How can we know what is our specific work? "What shall I do to serve God?" is the honest inquiry of many a young believer, and to such we would say, Seek first to utter the apostle's prayer, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" One is your Master, even Christ; get your orders from Him!
We cannot portion out to each other the details of our Christian work—we can merely suggest certain principles. One thing is certain—really earnest Christians are seldom at a loss for work to do. We never saw a really earnest Christian who lacked Christian employment: a devoted soul is usually hired at the first hour of the day. A whole-hearted spirit will give diligence to the hands. The Christian's heart has more to do with his hands than he may suppose.
A safe rule in seeking Christian work is to take the lower rather than the higher duty. Better to begin with a small thing than with a large one. No work for Christ is too small, for His Name to sanctify the service. Servants must not be proud, save of their Master. Serving tables is not such exalted service as laboring in the word and doctrine; but, we read, "they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 3:1313For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:13).) Stephen was appointed to the deaconship; he did his work well, and is an example of a servant honored by his Lord: for Stephen died—the first Christian martyr—yea, the first man who had seen the glory of God, the heavens opened, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7) He rose to great honors as a servant of Jesus; we think of him as the martyr, little as the deacon.
Again, work steadily on in what you do; "run with patience," not with spurts. Sow in patience; do not expect fruit before blossoms, or hope that every blossom will become fruit. Do a little work well rather than much carelessly. Prefer to cultivate a square yard of your garden thoroughly to an acre indifferently. Rather teach a class of six children completely than one of a dozen imperfectly. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might and heartily, as unto the Lord. Yet ever remember that nothing we have ever done for the Lord was done in such a way that it might not have been done better—with more prayer, dependence, humility, and self-denial.
Men do not use spades to paint with, nor spinning wheels to run trains. In the house of God men are fitted by God for their work, and, as a rule, we can find out what we are fitted for by observing in what things God is with us. If each servant be doing his own work there will be no clashing of interests in the household. The secret of working in unity is each servant working at the Master's bidding. Each worker bee gathers its own sweetness, but the united labor of the hive produces the honey.