GOD’S WORK AND OURS
To most of us the concept of work is a very familiar one, and especially as those who enjoy the privilege of being Christians there should be a certain joy attending our daily labours in whatever sphere of occupation we have been placed, “for we serve the Lord Christ”. However, owing to our infirmity and the opposition which the believer daily meets, seen or unseen, and also because of the vast numbers amongst whom we labour who live in darkness concerning the eternal purpose and presence of God, we often feel isolated and discouraged and sometimes tempted to negligence or sloth.
About half our waking hours throughout the week may be spent away from our homes or the fellowship of the saints, so we should have some positive principles to guide our conduct and maintain our comfort as we follow out the injunction of the Apostle, “to do your own business, and to work with your own hands”, (1 Thess. 4. 11). It has been a source of encouragement to many to remember that the greatest example of self sacrifice and diligence in labour is to be found in the earthly life of Christ. His divine perfections shone through at all times and even in the comparatively mundane surroundings of rural Galilee He was ever “about His Father’s business” with zeal and application. It occurred to me once whilst I was at work with hammer, saw and nails, that if indeed as some suppose, our Lord was engaged in the ancient craft of carpentry that surely every article that He made or worked upon would, for His part anyway, have been carried out to perfection for He was “without sin”. The tools and materials with which He worked may have borne the marks of fallen man’s contamination but it is inconceivable that Christ’s contribution to any task would have been thus tainted. Here, surely, is one motive for us to apply ourselves with increasing diligence to even the smallest, most menial of duties.
Let us pursue our theme with a text from the Psalms to light our path. We who are made in God’s image can do no better than to consider His greatest work in order to gain instruction and encouragement for our inferior, yet still important, daily business. Greater even than the work of creation, “God is WORKING salvation in the midst of the earth”, Psalm 74 v. 12. In breaking down this text we see that work requires:
1. A PLAN. It is a source of joy in the Church that many in our day are coming to see once more that salvation is not some random schemeÂ—a last resort to save a remnant from an experiment that went wrong. The Church is not an afterthought on God’s part when He found that the Jews “missed the Messiah”; such thoughts are almost blasphemous. Our verse says, God is my King OF OLD. Read Proverbs 8 vs. 22-31. Its glorious theme is Him-Wisdom IncarnateÂ—dwelling in the eternal bosom of the Father, awaiting the construction of the stage of time upon which to act out the great drama of history in the “theatre of God’s judgments”. “A body thou hast prepared me”. So as we go forth to our work and labour until the evening, (Ps. 104 v. 23) may these thoughts
accompany us, for we are, I hope, amongst those sons of men with whom were His delights. And if He were “delighted” with us “while we were yet sinners” how much more now that we are reconciled should we seek to please Him by approaching our every task with forethought and purpose.
2. Man’s capacity for effective work was increased over the ages with the development of TOOLS, and Scripture wisely informs us of the great tool which God is using in this greatest of works. “Is not my word a HAMMER that breaketh the rock in pieces” (Jer. 29. 23). Perhaps in the outworking of the plan of salvation the greatest problem God dealt with was, and still is, the resistance of proud and rebellious sinners. Mercifully God has met and countered that opposition not with a weapon (which is an instrument of destruction) but with a hammer which, being a tool, is an instrument of construction, saying “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The appalling abuse and waste of the tools and resources of our society should cause us as Christians to take careful regard for those placed in our hands. How careful God has been in the exercise and preservation of His own Word; surely we too must cultivate a responsible usage of all the aids and means at our disposal day by day.
3. The great Designer and Artificer has also been pleased to call men into His employment. Work will often involve either few or many LABOURERS, and this constitutes not only a great challenge but a glorious privilege. “We (are) workers together with Him” (2 Cor. 6. 1). Though more especially applied to those who preach and live of the Gospel, yet in a sense this text applies to all true disciples for, surely, there is no aspect of our life and service which can be divorced from the great Master of SalvationÂ— not a cruel taskmaster but a loving Father who employs us in the great family concern out of His infinite grace and love. How this should move us to give our all, to spend ourselves and be spent for Him whose workmanship we are (Eph. 2 v. 10). And especially “masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; that ye have also a Master in heaven.”
4. Lastly, our text in the psalm informs us of a SITE. Salvation is being worked “in the midst of the earth”. The church of which I am a member here in the North East of England is proposing to move; we have a site and we await the new building. Much work must go into that site before we can finally remove, and much work must go into the construction of that living building, (1 Peter 2 v. 5) for which Jesus paid the price in blood. Then only will it be seen in all its finished beauty. Though at times perhaps we feel tired, bound and burdened by this present evil world, yet the day is hastening on when God’s great work in the midst of the earth will be accomplished. In that day a glorious exhibition will be opened, an exhibition which throughout the immeasurable ages of eternity will be the object of inexhaustible admiration and wonder to both men and angels. Where is “the midst of the earth”? I answer, wherever His people are gathering and being gathered; wherever the Lord has placed us for our
sanctification and His glory; the shop, the factory, the home, the office, the hospital; that is where God is working salvation, that is the site.
So let us work willingly while it is yet day, and rejoice in that He shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied.