|Vol. 16 No. 2 February 2014||
Jesus was a worker. We do not find Him idling away the hours He spent on earth. Those He chose to be apostles were industrious men. They tackled their tasks with fervor and energy.
Christ calls us to be workers. He does not have time for shirkers. He explained that it is not the talkers but the doers He will reward at the Judgment. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). If there is any truth He emphasized, it is this: “To the work, to the work, we are servants of God” (as the songwriter put it), or as Jesus Himself said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).
Choose Your Employer
A long time ago, a man named Joshua said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). The Lord pictured the church as a man hiring laborers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). He continuously looked for new workers, and he hired as many as he could find who were willing to work.
The Lord is still calling for “employees.” Although many are called, few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). This is because they make excuses for not following Him (cf. 22:5). Every person will serve – the only choice is who will be master. We either serve Satan or the Savior, sin or righteousness, but we serve. Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). “He will hold to the one” means “to line up face to face with one man and so against the other” (Robertson Word Pictures).
The battle rages and each must take a stand. We cannot be neutral or apathetic (1 Kings 18:21; Matthew 12:30). Pilate tried that tactic by saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24), but Jesus’ blood still stained his hands. Aristotle’s axiom states, “There is no mean between two opposites.” The Orientals say it this way, “No man can carry two melons in one hand.” The nautical world expresses it, “It is impossible to sail under two flags.” Any way you say it, it is the case that some things do not mix: light and dark, water and oil, godliness and sin. A divided heart or split vision is a dangerous spiritual illness (Matthew 6:22-23).
To choose to do nothing is to serve Satan (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9; James 4:17). When we serve ourselves, we play into the devil’s hands (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 2:11). Paul wrote, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grade” (Romans 6:13-14). The advocates of independence – free spirits, for instance, who argue in favor of drug use and free love – often become the greatest slaves who are addicted to the next pill or the next relationship (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Keep Him Happy
Christ once stood before the barren fig tree and did something that He rarely did. He spoke a negative word – a curse (not profanity but a literal curse) (Matthew 21:18-19). He looked for luscious fruit and found none, so He cursed the tree, and it soon withered and died. In Jesus’ view, a useless tree was not worth the sunlight and soil it was using.
In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), Jesus again pronounced a curse. This time He was angry with the inactive servant who had a talent and failed to use it. Not a line in the parable suggests any infidelity or overt sin the man committed, and yet hear the Master’s words: “Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
In the same chapter, Jesus separated sheep from goats on Judgment Day on the basis of the principle, “Inasmuch as ye did it not” (Matthew 25:40, 45). If Jesus emphasized any one fact above all others, it was that to simply keep hands off, to do nothing, is the sin of all sins (Clovis Chappell). Every judgment parable uttered was rendered because of a service withheld.
Do not Stop Before Quitting Time
It is good to choose God as your “Employer,” and to serve in such a fashion as to please Him, but it is insufficient without completing the project. We must not give up and quit when the sun gets hot. Jesus commanded, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). It is possible to throw in the towel and lose that for which we had labored. Ezekiel stated, “When the righteous turneth away from righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die” (Ezekiel 18:24; cf. Galatians 5:4; 2 Peter 2:20-22).
Paul wrote, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). “Weary” here means “to be utterly spiritless, to be exhausted.” Though at times we may feel spiritually exhausted, there is too much on the line to fold our hands and quit. “Faint” means “to have one’s strength relaxed.” Picture one clinging to a rope stretched from heaven, by which Jesus is pulling up. If he loosens his grip and slides back down, he loses everything. Like Gideon’s soldiers, let all of us be “faint, yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4). Jesus still wants to know: “What do ye more than others?” (Matthew 5:47).