With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:…
I. Our subject opens with this reflection, that if henceforth whether we live, we live unto the Lord, or whether we die, we die unto the Lord, THIS CONSECRATION WILL GREATLY INFLUENCE OUR ENTIRE WORK.
1. You will have to live with a single eye to God's glory. The Lord Jesus is a most engrossing Master. He will have everything or nothing. As no dog can follow two hares at one time, or he will lose both, certainly no man can follow two contrary objects and hope to secure either of them.
2. To do service to the Lord we must live with holy carefulness. In the service of God we should use great care to accomplish our very best, and we should feel a deep anxiety to please Him in all things, There is a trade called paper staining, in which a man flings colours upon the paper to make common wall decorations, and by rapid processes acres of paper can be speedily finished. Suppose that the paper stainer should laugh at an eminent artist because he had covered such a little space, having been stippling and shading a little tiny piece of his picture by the hour together, such ridicule would itself be ridiculous. Now the world's way of religion is the paper stainer's way, the daubing way; there is plenty of it, and it is quickly done; but God's way, the narrow way, is a careful matter: there is but little of it, and it costs thought, effort, watchfulness, and care. Yet see how precious is the work of art when it is done, and how long it lasts, and you will not wonder that a man spends his time upon it; even so true godliness is acceptable with God, and it endures forever, and therefore it well repays the earnest effort of the man of God. The miniature painter has to be very careful of every touch and tint, for a very little may spoil his work. Let our life be miniature painting; "with fear and trembling" let it be wrought out.
3. Further, if henceforth our desire is to live "as to the Lord, and not unto men," then what we do must be done with the heart. "in singleness of your heart," says the context; and again in the sixth verse, "As the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." Our work for Jesus must be the outgrowth of the soil of the heart. Our service must not be performed as a matter of routine; there must be vigour, power, freshness, reality, eagerness, and warmth about it, or it will be good for nothing.
4. Under subjection. Doing the will of God - not our own. The freedom of a Christian lies in what I will venture to call an absolute slavery to Christ; we never become truly free till every thought is brought into subjection to the will of the Most High.
5. Again, we must do all this under a sense of the Divine oversight. Notice in verse 6 it is said of servants, "Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers." What a mean and beggarly thing it is for a man only to do his work well when he is watched. Such oversight is for boys at school and mere hirelings. You never think of watching noble-spirited men. Here is a young apprentice set to copy a picture: his master stands over him and looks over each line, for the young scapegrace will grow careless and spoil his work, or take to his games if he be not well looked after. Did anybody thus dream of supervising Raphael and Michael Angelo to keep them to their work? No, the master artist requires no eye to urge him on.
6. One more thought, and it is this. If henceforth we are to serve the Lord, and not men, then we must look to the Lord for our reward, and not to men. "Knowing," saith the eighth verse, "that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." Wage! Is that the motive of a Christian? Yes, in the highest sense, for the greatest of the saints, such as Moses, have "had respect unto the recompense of the reward," and it were like despising the reward which God promises to His people if we had no respect whatever for it.
II. Should this text become the inspiration of our life, IT WOULD GREATLY ELEVATE OUR SPIRITS.
1. It would lift us above complaining about the hardness of our lot, or the difficulty of our service. What wonders men can do when influenced by enthusiastic love for a leader! Alexander's troops marched thousands of miles on foot, and they would have been utterly wearied had it not been for their zeal for Alexander. He led them forth conquering and to conquer. Alexander's presence was the life of their valour, the glory of their strength.
2. This lifts the Christian above the spirit of stinting. Christ's servants delight to give so much as to be thought wasteful, for they feel that when they have in the judgment of others done extravagantly for Christ, they have but begun to show their heart's love for His dear name.
3. This raises us above all boasting of our work. "Is the work good enough?" said one to his servant. The man replied, "Sir, it is good enough for the price, and it is good enough for the man who is going to have it." Just so, and when we "serve" men we may perhaps rightly judge in that fashion, but when we come to serve Christ, is anything good enough for Him?
4. It elevates above that craving for recognition which is a disease with many. It is a sad fault in many Christians that they cannot do anything unless all the world is told of it.
5. It lifts above the discouragement which sometimes comes of human censure. The nightingale charms the ear of night. A fool passes by, and declares that he hates such distracting noises. The nightingale sings on, for it never entered the little minstrel's head or heart that it was singing for critics; it sings because He who created it gave it this sweet faculty.
6. This, too, will elevate you above the disappointments of non-success, ay, even of the saddest kind.
7. This lifts us above disappointment in the prospect of death. We shall have to go away from our work soon, so men tell us, and we are apt to fret about it.
8. Ay, and this lifts us above the deadening influence of age and the infirmities which come with multiplied years.
III. I close by saying, that if we enter into the very spirit of this discourse, or even go beyond it - if henceforth we live for Jesus only, so as never to know pleasure apart from Him, nor to have treasure out of Him, nor honour but in His honour, nor success save in the progress of His kingdom, WE SHALL EVEN THEN HAVE DONE NO MORE THAN HE DESERVES AT OUR HANDS. For, first, we are God's creatures. For whom should a creature live but for his Creator? Secondly, we are His new creatures, we are the twice-born of heaven; should we not live for Him by whom we have been begotten for glory?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening. -
Parallel VersesKJV: With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: