The Dignity of Life
2 Corinthians 6:1
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.

(cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9): — We are fellow-workers with God. The one thing which increased learning proves to us is the absence of caprice in the government of the world. The one thing forced upon us is the inevitable sequence of cause and effect. If, on the one hand, we seem to sink into the inconsiderable atoms of a whole too vast for the mind to grasp, on the other we rise to the majestic conception that we are fellow-workers with God. Where can we find a thought more fit than this to stir the heart and rouse the courage within us? The false and frivolous view of life that lies at the root of all our evils, shrivels up the worth of our manhood. It is not our own little interests alone, it is the weal and the woe, the growth and perfection of the whole human family around us, which rests upon us. It is nothing short of world-wide interests which hang upon our doing, with truth and honesty, and hearty energy, that little morsel of God's work we find placed before us. Our own little fragment of it is no longer the sordid shred of a chance struggle for existence, but the distinct though humble portion of God's great redeeming work. Let us see how this consciousness of the solemnity and reality of life touches all our commonest actions and employments. Our natural business here is intellectual work. To some it becomes merely an interesting amusement for the mind. To many it is a half distasteful necessity which is undergone in obedience to the dictates of society, to fit us to occupy our proper place in life. To still more, perhaps, it represents the preparation for the future struggle of the world. Regard it in its true light, and all these views seem trivial. It is the search for truth. It is the development of ourselves, because it is fitting to improve to its uttermost the gifts we have received. It is something holy; it is the work of God. What is not given here to intellectual training is chiefly given to social intercourse. Now what is that to most of us? A mere seeking of pleasure for pleasure's sake, or perhaps an exaggerated recreation-time far beyond our requirements. Such things in the light of the reality and seriousness of life it cannot be. For our social intercourse is then the chosen ground in which our wits clash with those of our fellows, that part of our lives where intercourse with them gives us our only chance of drawing from them good for ourselves or of implanting good in them. It is a time when we may in the most natural way be helping forward the great work of God. Yet certainly some of you will say, "according to this, the very fact which makes our calling so high deprives it of all virtue. The very argument on which the glory of our position as fellow-workers with God with all the coercive force it might exert, is rested, is upon necessity. We are workers with Him because everything, for good and evil alike, is like a piece of mechanism of which He keeps the key. Necessity excludes responsibility: we, like the rest, must do as He bids us do." To such an answer neither I nor any other man can give a full reply. We cannot but know that with each of us there lies the momentous choice whether we will consciously give our work to further God's work, or put ourselves as hindrances to check its way. Hitherto we have found the dignity which hangs about us as the fellow-workers with God in the fact of His universal presence. It is the all-pervading character of His work- and the consequent serious and holy character of life. — which has supplied us with the belief of the grandeur of our calling. Can we not find something which shall raise us with respect to our inner selves to the same height which we have to reach with respect to our outward energy? Now the imagery of my second text seems to give us such a thought. For it leads us to recollect that we are at once the workers and the work, at once the labourers and the husbandry, the builders and the house built. If we grasp the idea of the unity of the world, and of the presence of God in it all, it is plain that while we are acting as God's fellow-workers upon others, those others will act upon us — that while we are helping the world onwards we shall ourselves be helped. In the general unity it is impossible but that we shall play both parts. While we ourselves are building we must become a portion of the edifice built. And that building is nothing less than the home and temple of Christ.

(J. F. Bright, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

WEB: Working together, we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain,

Second Sunday in Lent
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