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Life and Work
‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to accomplish His work. I must work the works of Him that sent Me. I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me with Thyself.’—John 5:34, 9:4, 17:4
‘Work is the highest form of existence.’ The highest manifestation of the Divine Being is in His work. Read carefully again the words of our Blessed Lord at the head of the chapter, and see what Divine glory there is in His work. In His work Christ showed forth His own glory and that of the Father. It was because of the work He had done, and because in it He had glorified the Father, that He claimed to share the glory of the Father in heaven. The greater works He was to do in answer to the prayer of the disciples was, that the Father might be glorified in the Son. Work is indeed the highest form of existence, the highest manifestation of the Divine glory in the Father and in His Son.37
What is true of God is true of His creature. Life is movement, is action, and reveals itself in what it accomplishes. The bodily life, the intellectual, the moral, the spiritual life—individual, social, national life—each of these is judged of by its work. The character and quality of the work depends on the life: as the life, so the work. And, on the other hand the life depends on the work; without this there can be no full development and manifestation and perfecting of the life: as the work, so the life.
This is specially true of the spiritual life—the life of the Spirit in us. There may be a great deal of religious work with its external activities, the outcome of human will and effort, with but little true worth and power, because the Divine life is feeble. When the believer does not know that Christ is living in him, does not know the Spirit and power of God working in him, there may be much earnestness and diligence, with little that lasts for eternity. There may, on the contrary, be much external weakness and apparent failure, and yet results that prove that the life is indeed of God.
The work depends upon the life. And the life depends on the work for its growth and perfection. All life has a destiny; it cannot accomplish its purpose without 38 work; life is perfected by work. The highest manifestation of its hidden nature and power comes out in its work. And so work is the great factor by which the hidden beauty and the Divine possibilities of the Christian life are brought out. Not only for the sake of what it accomplishes through the believer as God’s instrument, but what it effects on himself, work must in the child of God take the same place it has in God Himself. As in the Father and the Son, so with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, work is the highest manifestation of life.
Work must be restored to its right place in God’s scheme of the Christian life as in very deed the highest form of existence. To be the intelligent willing channel of the power of God, to be capable of working the very work of God, to be animated by the Divine Spirit of love, and in that to be allowed to work life and blessing to men; it is this gives nobility to life, because it is for this we are created in the image of God. As God never for a moment ceases to work His work of love and blessing in us and through us, so our working out what He works in us is our highest proof of being created anew in His likeness.
If God’s purpose with the perfection of the individual believer, with the appointment of His Church as the body of Christ 39 to carry on His work of winning back a rebellious world to His allegiance and love is to be carried out, working for God must have much greater prominence given to it as the true glory of our Christian calling. Every believer must be taught that, as work is the only perfect manifestation, and therefore the perfection of life in God and throughout the world, so our work is to be our highest glory. Shall it be so in our lives?
If this is to come, we must remember two things. The one is that it can only come by beginning to work. Those who have not had their attention specially directed to it cannot realise how great the temptation is to make work a matter of thought and prayer and purpose, without its really being done. It is easier to bear than to think, easier to think than to speak, easier to speak than to act. We may listen and accept and admire God’s will, and in our prayer profess our willingness to do,—and yet not actually do. Let us, with such measure of grace as we have, and much prayer for more, take up our calling as God’s working men, and do good hard work for Him. Doing is the best teacher. If you want to know how to do a thing, begin and do it.
Then you will feel the need of the second thing I wish to mention, and be made capable 40 of understanding it,—that there is sufficient grace in Christ for all the work you have to do. You will see with ever-increasing gladness how He the Head works all in you the member, and how work for God may become your closest and fullest fellowship with Christ, your highest participation in the power of His risen and glorified life.
1. Life and work: beware of separating them, The more work you have, the more your work appears a failure. The more unfit you feel for work, take all the more time and care to have your inner life renewed in close fellowship with God.
2. Christ liveth in me—is the secret of joy and hope, and also of power for work. Care for the life, the life will care for the work. ‘Be filled with the Spirit.’
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