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Careful to maintain Good Works
‘I will that thou affirm these things confidently, to the end that they which have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. Let our people also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.’—Tit. 3:8, 14
In the former of these passages Paul charges Titus confidently to affirm the truths of the blessed Gospel to the end, with the express object that all who had believed should be careful, should make a study of it, to maintain good works. Faith and good works were to be inseparable; the diligence of every believer in good works was to be a main aim of a pastor’s work. In the second passage he reiterates the instruction, with the expression, let them learn, suggesting the thought that, as all work on earth has to be learned, so in the good works of the Christian life there is an equal need of thought and application and teachableness, to learn how to do them aright and abundantly.119
There may be more than one reader of this little book who has felt how little he has lived in accordance with all the teaching of God’s word, prepared, thoroughly furnished, ready unto, zealous of good works. It appears so difficult to get rid of old habits, to break through the conventionalities of society, to know how to begin and really enter upon a life that can be full of good works, to the glory of God. Let me try and give some suggestions that may be helpful. They may also aid those who have the training of Christian workers, in showing in what way the teaching and learning of good works may best succeed. Come, young workers all, and listen.
1. A learner must begin by beginning to work at once. There is no way of learning an art like swimming or music, a new language or a trade, but by practice. Let neither the fear that you cannot do it, nor the hope that something will happen that will make it easier for you, keep you back. Learn to do good works, the works of love, by beginning to do them. However insignificant they appear, do them. A kind word, a little help to some one in trouble, an act of loving attention to a stranger or a poor man, the sacrifice of a seat or a place to some one who longs for it—practise these things. All plants we cultivate are 120 small at first. Cherish the consciousness that, for Jesus’ sake, you are seeking to do what would please Him. It is only in doing you can learn to do.
2. The learner must give his heart to the work, must take interest and pleasure in it. Delight in work ensures success. Let the tens of thousands around you in the world who throw their whole soul into their daily business, teach you how to serve your blessed Master. Think sometimes of the honour and privilege of doing good works, of serving others in love. It is God’s own work, to love and save and bless men. He works it in you and through you. It makes you share the spirit and likeness of Christ. It strengthens your Christian character. Without actions, intentions lower and condemn a man instead of raising him. Only as much as you act out, do you really live. Think of the Godlike blessedness of doing good, of communicating life, of making happy. Think of the exquisite joy of growing up into a life of beneficence, and being the blessing of all you meet. Set your heart upon being a vessel meet for the Master’s use, ready to every good work.
3 . Be of good courage, and fear not. The learner who says I cannot, will surely fail. There is a Divine power working in you. 121 Study and believe what God’s word says about it. Let the holy self-reliance of St. Paul, grounded on his reliance on Christ, be your example: I can do all things—in Christ which strengtheneth me. Study and take home to yourself the wonderful promises about the power of the Holy Spirit, the abundance of grace, Christ’s strength made perfect in weakness, and see how all this can only be made true to you in working. Cultivate the noble consciousness that as you have been created to good works by God, He Himself will fit you for them. And believe then that just as natural as it is to any workman to delight and succeed in his profession, it can be to the new nature in you to abound in every good work. Having this confidence, you need never faint.
4. Above all, cling to your Lord Jesus as your Teacher and Master. He said: ‘Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.’ Work as one who is a learner in His school, who is sure that none teaches like Him, and is therefore confident of success. Cling to Him, and let a sense of His presence and His power working in you make you meek and lowly, and yet bold and strong. He who came to do the Father’s work on earth, and found it the path to the Father’s 122 glory, will teach you what it is to work for God.
To sum up again, for the sake of any who want to learn how to work, or how to work better:
1. Yield yourself to Christ. Lay yourself on the altar, and say you wish to give yourself wholly to live for God’s work.
2. Believe quietly that Christ accepts and takes charge of you for His work, and will fit you for it.
3. Pray much that God would open to you the great truth of His own working in you. Nothing else can give true strength.
4. Seek to cultivate a spirit of humble, patient, trustful dependence upon God. Live in loving fellowship with Christ, and obedience to Him. You can count upon His strength being made perfect in your weakness.
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