1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are laborers together with God: you are God's husbandry, you are God's building.
I. THE BASIS OF THIS CO-OPERATION is the high and holy relation between the Christian heart and God. The Christian is united to Him as a child is to a parent, more by affection than by mere external ties. He is united to God, likewise, by a fervent sympathy with the Divine character. God's holiness is exceedingly attractive to him. Besides, a Christian has truly and persistently submitted his will to God's will, feeling that the Divine will includes all that is wisest, purest, noblest. A Christian, furthermore, holds his soul and his thoughts in daily communion with God, so that affections are interchanged with Him.
II. ITS NATURE. The Christian accepts —
1. The Divine idea of his own development of character, and labours to produce in himself those things which God seeks.
2. The Divine order in this world, and endeavours to secure among men that intelligence and goodness for which God endlessly works, and causes nature to work.
3. All his powers and affections in stewardship, and undertakes to use himself for God's work, His personal influence, his property, his children, his friends — all these he throws in, as it were, to the common stock, and administers them for God, and not for himself.
4. The duty to love all that which God loves, to promote all that God is seeking to promote, to hate what God hates, and to destroy it if he can.
III. PRACTICAL LESSONS.
1. This view consoles in our conscious weakness. There is no man that, when he looks upon the courses of God in the world; the results that he is to achieve in himself; to seek among his fellows, that does not often come to a consciousness that he is weakness itself. Sometimes it makes one feel utterly worthless, discourages endeavour, and leads one to desire to fly away and be at rest, because they think it will make no difference whether they live or die. What is a drop of water of itself? What is weaker? But when God has marshalled the sum of the weakness of myriad drops together, they lift the mightiest ship as if it were but a feather, and play with the winds as if they were mere instruments of sport. And yet that very drop is there, and has its part and lot in the might of the whole vast; unbounded sea.
2. He who unites himself to any great truth which God has established may be sure that he will go forth from conquering to conquer; not by reason of any might or skill in himself, but because he is a labourer together with God. The man that adopts any Divinely appointed truth, no matter what the world thinks of it, rides in God's chariot, and has God for his charioteer. He always wins who sides with God. On the other hand, no man in this world is safe or victorious unless he feels that he is going with, and not against God.
3. No life can be barren or insignificant that is a part of God's life. A woman that seemed to be endowed with everything calculated to fit one for the most eminent service, was called, in God's providence, to marry a man that was not her equal. She was placed in an obscure position. While she might have been listening to the chime of the spheres she was occupied with rocking the cradle, darning, sewing, washing, and cooking. And sometimes, perhaps, she thought to herself, "Woe is me! To what end am I living?" Her child developed under her care, and learned to call her mother; and then she thought God spoke, so sweet was its voice to her, and in that child she expected to reap her reward for all that she had done and suffered. But just as he was touching manhood, in a moment the wave closed over him, the labour of her life was ended, and, stranded on the shores of despair, she cried out, "Why was I born? and to what end have I lived?" A hundred had marked her fidelity, and she had been schoolmaster to every one of them. A hundred had witnessed her patience, and all the sermons they had ever heard had not preached such a lesson to them as her silent example. Multitudes that had learned of her, in turn became teachers of others. Her influence spread wider than what she dreamed. It was not until she had gone up to the end of life in obscurity, and God had caused the light of eternity to shine on her work, that she understood how glorious little things might be. The good deeds of this life are dewdrops, innumerable, lying unseen among men; but when God shall pour the revealing light of the other world upon them, how it will kindle them and make them sparkle! Imagine how Solomon's temple was built. In the forest of old Lebanon many and many a day-labourer worked in obscurity, and wondering of what consequence all his work could be. In another place were workers in metal. Some did one thing and some another, but none knew the plan of the temple, none knew what they wrought till on a certain day, when they all trooped to Jerusalem. Then they stood entranced, and wondered that out of things so insignificant in the mountains there should come such glory in Jerusalem. God had sent some to the cedar forest, some to the stone quarry, some to the dark. and dank places of this world; but He is collecting materials which will glow with untold splendour in the temple that He is building for the New Jerusalem.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.