And I sent messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease…
Christian work is —
1. A SAFEGUARD AGAINST VICE. All honest work, indeed, is an antidote to vice, but Christian work is especially so.
1. It fills up those leisure hours that so often prove fatal to the unguarded soul.
2. By its very nature it supplies positive motives against temptation.
(1) It strengthens all one's Christian principles.
(2) It keeps one constantly under the play of Christian influences.
(3) It prevents the spiritual life from dying of disuse.
II. A SAFEGAURD AGAINST SPIRITUAL DECLENSION. Our spiritual life depends in the first instance on the work of Christ for us; but its continuance is dependent on activity — on the work we do for Christ.
1. Physical growth is dependent on activity.
2. So, too, with intellectual life.
3. So in a still higher degree it is in spiritual life.Selfishness is the greatest spiritual poverty. Life loses in the proportion in which it withholds itself, and gains by all it gives. According to the width of my sympathies and the self-forgetting ardour of my zeal is the true power and opulence of my being. If it be lawful or possible to enlist the higher selfishness in the service of unselfishness, as you value your religious life, as you would protect it on the one hand against innate tendencies to declension, and on the other against the sapping and undermining influences of the outer world, give your sympathies, your energies, your substance to the cause of God and man. It is not enough for your religious safety that you abstain from evil — you must engage in positive good.
III. A SAFEGUARD AGAINST SCEPTICISM. NOT THAT SCEPTICISM CANNOT BE MET IN THE FIELD OF ARGUMENT. BUT ARGUMENT is not, in every case, the best way to meet the native scepticism of the heart. Christian truth is of such a nature that to understand it fully you must live it. "If any man will do God's will he shall know of the doctrine." There was a minister who at an early period of his life was in doubt about the truth of Christianity. He had almost lost his faith, when hearing this text he resolved to make trial of it. He went and gathered a number of boys together from the streets and taught them as best he could; from that he went to something else as opportunity offered, with the result that he found the text to be true; that in doing God's will, especially in doing good to others, his doubts had all fled and never troubled him more. He found, as Carlyle says, "that doubt of whatever kind can be ended by action alone." As a rule it is not from the great class of Christian workers that scepticism draws its recruits, but from those who stand aloof from all Christian activities, and in many cases look down on them with contempt.
IV. A SAFEGUARD AGAINST DESPONDENCY. It is an old saying and true that while the water flows and the mill-stones revolve unless the grain be thrown between them to be ground, the stones will grind each other. So the heart and mind which are inactive, which have no subjects of interest, to engross them, turn their force inward and prey upon themselves. The water that is stagnant soon loses its freshness of colour and of flavour, and engenders the worthless weed, the green scum, the foul mud and noxious exhalations; so the man or woman who leads a useless, purposeless, inactive life not only degenerates in inward character, but loses the freshness and brightness of life, becomes restless, discontented, and a prey to melancholy. To a woman of the desponding type who was wont to bewail her spiritual poverty in the language of the prophet, "My leanness i my leanness I " a shrewd and faithful friend, well-known for her good works, administered the needed and merited reproof, "Nay, but it would better become you to say, 'My laziness! my laziness!'"
(Robert Whyte, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?