Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
The harmony of Scripture is admirable. He who weighed the mountains in scales has had a clear eye to the adjustment of truth in His Word. While the doctrinal part of Scripture is exceeding full, the practical part is not one whit less copious. In this verse this harmony is noteworthy. The Christian is not to be a worse tradesman because of his religion, but a better. At the same time, we must not neglect the spiritual because of the pressing demands of the temporal. The holy fire within our souls is to be constantly burning.
I. THE ESSENTIALS OF ALL TRUE SERVICE TO GOD.
1. Divine acceptance. If a stranger should of his own accord visit your farm, and should commence driving the horses, milking the cows, reaping the wheat, and so on, if you had never employed him he would be fulfilling the part of an intruder rather than the office of a servant. Now it is not every man who is fit to be a servant of God. How should the thrice holy God be served by hands unwashed from sin? Unto the wicked God saith, "What hast thou to do to declare My statutes?"(1) Hast thou then been bought with the great Master's money? Only the redeemed ones are reckoned by the Lord as servants in His household. The ungodly are slaves to Satan.
(2) God's servant has been won by power as well as bought with price. Hast thou been compelled by Divine grace to leave thy sins? Israel would for ever have made bricks in Egypt if the Lord had not brought them forth with an outstretched arm.
(3) God's servants are always such as are born in His house as well as bought with His money. Preliminary to all holy service must be regeneration. That which cometh from the crab will still be sour, plant the tree where you will. A sinner is unsuitable for service till he be new-created.
2. We must render our obedience to the Lord Himself. Much that is done religiously is not done unto God. Whose honour do you seek? for remember that which is uppermost in thy heart is thy master. Sinister motives and selfish aims are the death of true godliness.
3. We must serve God in the way of His appointment. If anything be done without orders, it may be excessive activity, but it is not service. How many think they are serving God when they have never turned to His commandments 1 What God doth not bid you hath no power over your conscience, even though pope and prelate decree it.
4. We must serve God in His strength. Those who attempt to perfect holiness without waiting upon the Holy Spirit for power, will be as foolish as the apostles had they commenced preaching without power from on high. Nothing will last but that which is wrought by Divine power.
5. We must stand continually ready to obey the Lord's will in anything and everything without distinction. He who enlists surrenders his will to the discipline of the army and the bidding of the Captain. What hast thou to do with likings and dislikings? Servants must like that which their masters bid them.
II. SOME OF THE MODES IN WHICH WE MAY SERVE THE LORD.
1. It was an ordinance of David that the soldiers who watched by the stuff should be accounted to be as true soldiers as those who joined in the actual conflict. Hence I would say a word to those of you who cannot serve the Lord in direct activities. If the tongue speak not, yet if the life speak thou shalt have done God no small homage. If thou canst not help the cause of God in any other mode, at any rate there is open to thee that of fervent prayer. I doubt not that many sick beds are doing more for Christ than our pulpits. But in addition to this, the very weakest and worst circumstanced can speak at least now and then a word for Christ. Mother, with those babes around you, you have a field of labour among them. You whose occupations engross your time, I cannot imagine that God has given even to you a light which is quite covered with a bushel. They who give thousands to the cause of Christ do well, but they do no better than the widow who, having two mites, gave all.
2. But while we make room for comfort for those who abide by the stuff, we do not desire to console the idle; we are —
(1) To make known the gospel of Christ. It is a sad proof of our want of zeal that London is still so grossly ignorant of this. We are not responsible that the Hindoo or African worships his idols, but we are responsible that he has not heard of the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
(2) Through this we should aim at the conversion of sinners. We are not to be self-complacently content with having merely spoken the truth, we are to look for signs following.
(3) The reclamation of backsliders.
(4) The edification of one another.
III. THE COMMENDATION WHICH IS DUE TO THIS SERVICE. To serve God is —
1. The natural element of godliness. Heavenly spirits enjoy unbroken rest, but they find their rest in serving God day and night. Surely it is as much the element of a Christian to do good as for a fish to swim, or a bird to fly, or a tree to yield her fruits.
2. The highest honour. How men pride themselves on being attached to the train of great men! But what must it be to have God for your Master.
3. The highest pleasure. The happiest members of any church are the most diligent.
4. Soul education. No man grows to be a perfect Christian by lying on the bed of sloth. Our manhood is developed by exercise.
IV. THE PRESENT NEED OF THIS SERVICE. There is need enough of it in this city. The ignorance, poverty, misery, iniquity of London reek before God, and yet we gather in a little quiet place by ourselves, and we use the rosewater of self-complacency, and think that everything goes well.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;