Looks like you are using an old version of Internet Explorer - Please update your browser
Charles Spurgeon discusses how our work should be done “as for the Lord, and not for men.”
A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 20, 1879, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *11/28/2012
With good will doing service, as for the Lord, and not for men. [Eph 6:7]
1. This sentence was expressly addressed, in the first place, to “servants,” which term includes, and first of all intends, those who unhappily were slaves. There were many slaves in the Roman Empire, and the form of bondage which existed then was of the bitterest kind. I can imagine a slave becoming a Christian and so finding peace concerning his former guilt, and obtaining renewal of heart; and then, although rejoicing in the Lord, I can well conceive that he would often be downcast in view of his sad condition as a bondsman. I see him sitting down and moaning to himself, “I am a bondsman under a tyrant master. I have already endured many cruelties, and may expect many more. I wish be to free, but there is no hope of escape, since there is no place to which I can flee, for Caesar’s arm is long, and would reach me at the very ends of the earth. I cannot purchase my liberty, nor earn it by long years of faithful servitude; neither can my fellow bondsmen accomplish our deliverance by rebellion, for this has been tried and has ended in terrible bloodshed. I am hopelessly a slave. What shall I do? How shall I endure my fate? My life is almost intolerable: oh that it were at an end.” I can imagine the poor bondsman going to his cramped up bed under the stair — for in any hole or corner the Roman slave might find such little rest as was allowed him — and there he would almost wish to sleep himself into another world. Being a Christian, as I have supposed, he pours out his heart before God in prayer, and in answer to his cry the Lord Jesus sets before him the rich consolation which he has provided for all who mourn, — consolation strong enough to enable him to endure to the end, and glorify the name of Jesus even under such hard conditions. While still troubled in mind this freeman of the Lord, who is still in bonds to man, is met by the Saviour himself. He appears to him — I will not say in such form as could be perceived by the eyes, but in vision clear enough to be extremely influential over his spirit. Jesus stands before him. The five wounds adorning him like precious rubies are infallible signs; the face lit up with an unearthly splendour is still marked with the old lines of sorrow, and the head bears the thorn-crown still around its brow. The poor slave casts himself at his Redeemer’s feet with astonishment, with awe, and with intense delight; and then I think I hear those dear lips, which are as lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh, saying to his poor servant, “Fulfil your service bravely. Do it for me. Forget your tyrant master and remember only me. Bear on, work on, suffer on, and do all as for me, and not for men.” Then I think I see the broken-hearted captive rising up refreshed with inward strength, and I hear him say, “I will even bear the yoke until my Lord shall call me away. Unless his providence shall open for me a door of liberty I will patiently remain where I am and suffer all his will; hopefully and joyfully serving because he asks me to do it for his sake.” A vision which would so greatly comfort the poor Roman slave in his extremity may well stand before each one of us. Let us each hear our Saviour say, “Live for me, and do all for my sake.” Our service is so much more pleasant and easy than that of slaves, let us perform it “with good will doing service as for the Lord, and not for men.” Our princely motto is “I serve”: may this sentence be emblazoned on our banner, and used as the battle-cry of life’s campaign.
2. Notice well that the Holy Spirit does not ask us leave our positions in order to serve the Lord. He does not ask us to forego the domestic relationships which make us husbands or wives, parents or children, masters or servants; he does not suggest to us to put on a particular garb, and seek the seclusion of a hermit, or the retirement of monastic or convent life. Nothing of the kind is hinted at, but he asks the servant to continue in his or her service — “with good will doing service.” Our great Captain would not have you hope to win the victory by leaving your post. He would have you remain in your trade, calling, or profession, and all the while serve the Lord in it, doing the will of God from the heart in common things. This is the practical beauty of our holy faith, that when it casts the devil out of a man it sends him home to bless his friends by telling them what great things the Lord has done for him. Grace does not transplant the tree, but leaves it to overshadow the old house at home as before, and produce good fruit where it is. Grace does not make us unearthly, though it makes us unworldly. True religion distinguishes us from others, even as our Lord Jesus was separate from sinners, but it does not shut us up or hedge us all around as if we were too good or too tender for the rough usage of everyday life. It does not put us in the salt-box and shut the lid down, but it casts us in among our fellow men for their good. Grace makes us the servants of God while we are still the servants of men: it enables us to do the business of heaven while we are attending to the business of earth: it sanctifies the common duties of life by showing us how to perform them in the light of heaven. The love of Christ makes the lowliest acts sublime. Just as the sunlight brightens a landscape and sheds beauty over the most common scene, so does the presence of the Lord Jesus. The spirit of consecration renders the offices of domestic servitude as sublime as the worship which is presented upon the sea of glass before the eternal throne, by spirits to whom the courts of heaven are their familiar name.
3. I suggest my text to all believers as the motto of their lives. Whether we are servants or masters, whether we are rich or poor, let us take this as our watchword, “As for the Lord, and not for men.” Henceforth may this be the engraving of our seal and the motto of our coat of arms; the constant rule of our life, and the sum of our motive. In advocating this gracious purpose of our being, let me say that if we are enabled to adopt this motto it will, first of all, influence our work itself; and, secondly, it will elevate our spirit concerning that work. Yet let me add, thirdly, that if the Lord shall really be the all in all of our lives, it is after all only what he has a right to expect, and what we are under a thousand obligations to give to him.
4. I. Our subject opens with this reflection, that if henceforth whether we live we live for the Lord, or whether we die we die for the Lord, THIS CONSECRATION WILL GREATLY INFLUENCE OUR ENTIRE WORK.
5. Do you say, my brother, that henceforth your whole life shall be a service for the Lord? Then it will follow, first, that you will have to live with a single eye for his glory. See how in verse 5 we are told, “Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as for Christ.” If we do indeed live “as for the Lord,” we need to live wholly for the Lord. The Lord Jesus is a most engrossing Master. He has said, “No man can serve two masters,” and we shall find it so. He will have everything or nothing. If indeed he is our Lord he must be sole sovereign, for he will not tolerate a rival. It comes to pass then, oh Christian, that you are bound to live for Jesus and for him alone. You must have no alternate or even secondary object or divided purpose: if you do divide your heart your life will be a failure. Since 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. No, it behoves a servant of Christ to be a concentrated man: his affections should be bound up into one affection, and that affection should not be set on things on the earth, but on things above; his heart must not be divided, or it will be said of him as of those in Hosea, “Their heart is divided; now they shall be found wanting.” The room of the heart is far too narrow to accommodate the King of kings and the world, or the flesh, or the devil, at the same time. We have no wish, desire, ambition, or exertion to spare for a rival lord, the service of Jesus demands and deserves all. Such is the eminence of this object, that all a man has or can have of reason or strength must be spent this way if he is to win. Nor is this too much for our great Lord to expect from those for whom he has done so much. To whom should I give a part of myself, my Master? You have redeemed me completely, and I am altogether yours, take full possession of me! Who else can be worthy of my heart? Who else can have a right to set foot within the province of which you are the King? Indeed, rule alone, you blessed and only Potentate! Just as you alone have redeemed me, treading the wine-press of wrath alone for me, so you shall be sole monarch of my soul! You are all my salvation and all my desire, and therefore you shall have all my homage and service. With such a Lord to be served the current of our life must run in one sole channel, so that he may have it all and nothing may be wasted.
6. Next, to do service for the Lord we must live with holy carefulness, for what does the context say? We are to serve “with fear and trembling.” 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 for hours, 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 only little of it, and it costs thought, effort, watchfulness, and care. Yet see how precious the work of art is 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 for ever, 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 a miniature painting; “with fear and trembling” let it be worked out. We are serving the thrice-holy God, who will be had in reverence by those who come near to him, let us watch what we do. Our blessed Master never made a faulty stroke when he was serving his Father; he never lived a careless hour, nor let an idle word drop. Oh, it was a careful life he lived: even the night watches were not without the deep anxieties which poured themselves out in prayer to God; and if you and I think that the first thing which comes to hand will do to serve our God with, we make a great mistake, and grossly insult his name. We must have a very low idea of his infinite majesty if we think that we can honour him by doing his service half-heartedly, or in a slovenly way. No, if you will indeed live “as for the Lord, and not for man,” you must watch each motion of your heart and life, or you will fail in your purpose.
7. Living for the Lord means living with a concentrated spirit, and living with earnest care so that our one service may be the best of which we are capable when are at our best. Alas, how poor is that best when we reach it! Truly, when we have done all we are unprofitable servants, but that all is seldom reached.
8. Further, if henceforth our desire is to live “as for the Lord, and not for 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. No fish ever came upon God’s altar because it could not come there alive; the Lord wants none of your dead, heartless worship. You know what is meant by putting heart into all that we do; explain it by your lives. A work which is to be accepted by the Lord must be heart work throughout; not a few thoughts of Christ occasionally, and a few chilly words, and a few chance gifts, and a little done by way of a sideline, but just as the heart beats so must we serve God: it must be our very life. We are not to treat our religion as though it were a kind of hobby farm which we were willing to keep going but not to make much of, our chief thoughts being engrossed with the home farm of self and the world, with its gains and pleasures. Our Lord will be aut Caesar aut nullus, either ruler or nothing. My Master is a jealous husband: he will not tolerate a stray thought of love elsewhere, and he thinks it is scorn that those who call themselves his beloved should love others better than himself. Such unchastity of heart can never be permitted, let us not dream of it.
9. We may not claim to be his if we give him only lip-service, and brain service, and hand service; he must have the heart. Oh, our beloved Lord, you did not spare your heart from agony for us, the lance set it abroach with all its costly double flood for our unworthy sakes; therefore you cannot be content to receive in return lifeless forms and cold pretences. You lived indeed; there was no sham about your life. In all you did you were intense. The zeal of your Father’s house had eaten you up. You were clad with zeal as with a cloak which covered you from head to foot. Let us live somewhat after this glorious fashion, for your servant only truly lives when he lives like his Master. “He who is perfect shall be like his Master.” If we are to live for the Lord, the fountains of our soul must flow with boiling floods, and our life must be like a great Icelandic geyser shooting up its columns of water, which seethe and boil as they rise. Just as great earthquakes shake the very centre of the earth, so must there be movements of life within us which stir our soul with vehement longings for Jesus, and with intense yearnings for his glory. All our light and life must turn to love, and that love must be all ablaze for Jesus. If we truly live for Christ it must be so.
10. What else does the passage before us say? If we say, — henceforth I will do the will of God as for the Lord and not for men, then we must do it under subjection: for notice well the words, “doing the will of God.” Some people’s religion is only another way of doing their own will. They pick and choose what precepts they shall keep and what they shall neglect, what doctrines they shall hold and what they shall refuse: their spirit is not bowed into sacred servitude, but takes licence to act according to its own pleasure. The freedom of a Christian lies in what I will dare to call an absolute slavery to Christ; and we never become truly free until every thought is brought into subjection to the will of the Most High. Now if henceforth I live for God, I no longer have any right to say, “I will do this or that,” but I must enquire, “My Master, what would you have me to do?” Just as the eyes of the maidens are on their mistress, so are our eyes on you, oh Lord. Believer, your Master is to will for you henceforth. It is useless to say, “I shall live as for the Lord, and not for men,” when all the while we intend to live in our own way. Who is to be master now, self or Christ? On every point this question must be settled: for if on any point we assume the personal mastery, the rule of Jesus is completely refused. To go or to stand still, to suffer or to be in pleasure, to be in honour or to be in disgrace, is no more to be our option, or if we have a momentary choice it is to be cheerfully resigned before the sovereignty of him to whom we have now taken to be our all in all. There is no being a Christian if Christ does not have the throne in the heart and life. It is only the mockery of Christianity to call Jesus Master and Lord while we do not do the things which he commands.
11. Again, we must do all this under a sense of the divine oversight. Notice in verse 6 it is said of servants, “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers.” What a base 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 scamp will grow careless and spoil his work, or take to his games if he is not well looked after. Did anyone thus dream of supervising Raphael and Michael Angelo to keep them at their work? No, the master artist requires no eye to urge him on. Popes and emperors came to visit the great painters in their studios, but did they paint all the better because these grandees gazed upon them? Certainly not; perhaps they did all the worse in the excitement or the worry of the visit. They had regard for something better than the eye of pompous personages. So the true Christian needs no eye of man to watch him. There may be pastors and preachers who are all the better for being looked after by bishops and presbyters; but imagine a bishop overseeing the work of Martin Luther, and trying to quicken his zeal; or imagine a presbyter looking after Calvin to keep him sound in the faith. Oh, no; gracious minds outgrow the governance and stimulus which comes from the oversight of mortal man. God’s own Spirit dwells within us, and we serve the Lord from an inward principle, which is not fed from without. There is about a real Christian a prevailing sense that God sees him, and he does not care who else may set his eye upon him; it is enough for him that God is there. He has little respect for the eye of man, he neither courts nor dreads it. Let the good deed remain in the dark, for God sees it there, and that is enough; or let it be emblazoned in the light of day to be pecked at by the censorious, for it little matters who censures since God approves. This is to be a true servant of Christ: to escape from being an eye-servant to men by becoming in the sublimest sense an eye-servant, working ever beneath the eye of God. If we only believed this, how well we would live! If now I remember, as I try to do, that God hears each word I speak to you from this pulpit; that he reads my soul as I address you in his name, how ought I to preach? And if you go to your Sunday School class this afternoon, and picture Jesus sitting among the boys and girls, and hearing how you teach them, how earnestly you will teach. At home when you are about to scold a servant; or in the shop, when you think to do a rather sharp thing, if you think your Master stands there and sees it all, what a power it will have over you! Our lives should all be spent under the spell of “You God see me,” and we should each be able to declare, “I have set the Lord always before me.”
12. 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,” says the eighth verse, “that whatever good thing any man does, the same he shall receive of the Lord, whether he is 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 for the reward,” and it would be like despising the reward which God promises to his people if we had no respect whatever for it. Respect for the reward which comes from God kills the selfishness which is always expecting a reward from men. We can postpone our reward, and we can be content instead of receiving present praise, to be misunderstood and misrepresented: we can postpone our reward, and we can endure instead to be disappointed in our work, and to labour on without success, or when the reward does come how glorious it will be! An hour with Jesus will make up for a lifetime of persecution! One smile from him will repay us a thousand times over for all disappointments and discouragements.
13. Thus you see, brethren, that if we do in very deed make this our rule and maxim — “As for the Lord, and not for men” — our work will be shaped and fashioned most wonderfully. May God grant that the influence of this motive may obviously sway our whole life henceforth, until we close it for this world, and begin it anew where we shall not need to adjust our course, but shall continue eternally to live to the Lord alone.
14. II. May the Holy Spirit guide us while we reflect, secondly, that should this text become the inspiration of our life IT WOULD GREATLY ELEVATE OUR SPIRITS. What would it do for us?
First, it would lift us above all complaining about the hardness
of our lot, or the difficulty of our service. “Alas,” one says, “I am
worn out. I cannot keep on at this rate. My position is so terribly
trying that I cannot hold on much longer: it strains not only muscle
and sinew, but nerve and heart. No one could bear my burden for long:
my husband is cruel, my friend is unkind, my children are
ungrateful.” Ah, poor heart, there are many others who wear the
weeping willow as well as yourself. But be of good courage, and look
at your case in another light. If the burden is to be borne for the
sake of Jesus, who loved you and gave himself for you, by whose
precious blood you are redeemed from the pains of hell, can you not
bear it? Can you not bear it? “That is quite another thing,” you say:
“I could not bear it for a sneering master: I could not bear it for a
passionate, froward mistress, but I could do anything and I could
bear anything for Jesus.” This makes all the difference —
For him I count as gain each loss,
Disgrace for him, renown;
Well may I glory in his cross,
While he prepares my crown!
We are satisfied to bear any cross as long as it is his cross.
What wonders men can do when they are 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 out conquering and to conquer.
Alexander’s presence was the life of their valour, the glory of their
strength. If there was a very long day’s march over burning sands,
one thing they knew, — that Alexander marched with them; if they were
thirsty, they knew that he was thirsty too, for when one brought a
cup of water to the king, he put it aside, thirsty as he was, and
said, “Give it to the sick soldier.” Once it so happened that they
were loaded with the spoil which they had taken, and each man had
become rich with goodly garments and wedges of gold; then they began
to travel very slowly with so much to carry, and the king feared that
he would not overtake his foe. Having a large quantity of spoil which
fell to his own share, he burned it all before the eyes of his
soldiers and asked them to do the same so that they might pursue the
enemy and win even more. “Alexander’s portion lies beyond,” he cried,
and seeing the king’s own spoils on fire his warriors were content to
give up their gains also and share with their king. He did himself
what he commanded others to do: in self-denial and hardship he was a
full partaker with his followers. Our Lord and Master acts towards us
in the same way. He says, “Renounce pleasure for the good of others.
Deny yourself, and take up your cross. Suffer, though you might avoid
it; labour, though you might rest, when God’s glory demands suffering
or labour from you. Have not I set an example for you?” “Who, though
he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that we through his
poverty might be rich.” He stripped himself of all things so that he
might clothe us with his glory. Oh, brothers and sisters, when we
heartily serve such a leader as this, and are fired by his spirit,
then murmuring, and complaining, and weariness, and fainting of heart
are altogether fled: a divine passion carries us beyond ourselves.
I can do all things, or can bear
All suffering if my Lord be there.
17. Next, this lifts the Christian above the spirit of being stingy. I believe great numbers of working men — I am not going to judge them for it — always consider how little they can possibly do to earn their wages, and the question with them is not, “How much can we give for the wage?” that used to be; but, “How little can we give? How little work can we do in the day without being fired for idleness?” Many men say, “We must not do all the work today, for we shall need something to do tomorrow: our masters will not give us more than they can help, and therefore we will not give them more than we are obliged to.” This is the general spirit on both sides, and as a nation we are going to the dogs because that spirit is among us; and we shall be more and more beaten by foreign competition if this spirit is cultivated. Among Christians such a notion cannot be tolerated in the service of our Lord Jesus. It never does for a minister to say, “If I preach three times a week it is quite as much as anyone will expect of me; therefore I shall do no more.” It will never be right for you to say, “I am a Sunday School teacher; if I get into the class just before it begins — some of you do not do that — and if I stop just as long as the class lasts, I need not look after the boys and girls through the week; I cannot be bothered with them: I will do just as much as I am bound to do, but no more.” In a certain country town it was reported that the grocer’s wife cut a plum in two, for fear there should be a grain more than weight in the parcel, and the folks called her Mrs. Split-Plum. Ah, there are many Split-Plums in religion. They do not want to do more for Jesus than may be absolutely necessary. They would like to give good weight, but they would be sorry to be convicted of doing too much. Ah, when we get to feel we are doing service for our Lord Jesus Christ, we adopt a far more liberal scale. Then we do not calculate how much ointment will suffice for his feet, but we give him all that our box contains. Is this your talk, “Here, bring the scales, this ointment cost a great deal of money, we must be economical. Watch every drachma, yes, every scruple and grain, for the nard is costly?” If this is your cool manner of calculation your offering is not worth a cent. That daughter of love of whom we read in the gospels did not speak like this, for she broke the box and poured out all the contents upon her Lord. “To what purpose is this waste?” cried Judas. It was Judas who spoke like this, and you know therefore the worth of the observation. 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 only begun to show their hearts’ love for his dear name. Thus the elevating power of the spirit of consecration lifts us up above the wretched parsimony of mere formality.
18. Again, this raises us up above all boasting about 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 way, but when we come to serve Christ, is anything good enough for him? Could our zeal know no respite, could our prayers know no pause, could our efforts know no relaxation, could we give all we have of time, wealth, talent, and opportunity, could we die a martyr’s death a thousand times, would not he, the Best Beloved of our souls, deserve far more? Ah, that he would. Therefore self-congratulation is banished for ever. When you have done all, you will feel that it is not worthy of the matchless merit of Jesus, and you will be humbled at the thought. Thus, while doing all for Jesus stimulates zeal, it fosters humility, a happy blending of useful results.
19. The resolve to do all as for the Lord will elevate you 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 about it. The hen in the farmyard has laid an egg, and feels so proud of the achievement that she must cackle about it: everyone must know of that one poor egg until all the country resounds with the news. It is so with some professors: their work must be published, or they can do no more. “Here I have,” one said, “been teaching in the Sunday School for years, and no one ever thanked me for it; I believe that some of us who do the most are the least noticed, and what a shame it is.” But if you have done your service for the Lord you should not talk like that, or we shall suspect you of having other intentions. The servant of Jesus will say, “I do not want human notice. I did it for the Master; he noticed me, and I am content. I tried to please him, and I did please him, and therefore I ask for no more, since I have gained my purpose. I seek no praise from men, for I fear lest the breath of human praise should tarnish the pure silver of my service.”
20. This would lift you above the discouragement which sometimes comes from human censure. If you seek the praise of men you will in all probability fail in the present, and certainly you will lose it in the future sooner or later. Many men are more ready to censure than to commend; and to hope for their praise is to seek for sugar in a root of wormwood. Man’s way of judging is unjust, and seems fashioned on purpose to blame all of us one way or another. Here is a brother who sings bass, and the critics say, “Oh yes, a very fine bass voice, but he could not sing treble.” Here is another who excels in treble, and they say, “Yes, yes, but we prefer a tenor.” When they find a tenor they blame him because he cannot take the bass part. No one can be candidly praised, but all must be savagely censured. What will the great Master say about it? Will he not judge like this — “I have given this man a bass voice, and he sings bass, and that is what I meant for him to do: I gave that man a tenor voice, and he sings tenor, and that is what I meant for him to do: I gave that man a treble voice, and he sings treble, and so takes the part I meant for him to take. All the parts blended together make up sweet music for my ears?” Wisdom is shown to be right by its results, but folly blames them all around. How little we ought to care about the opinions and criticisms of our fellow men when we remember that he who made us what we are, and helps us by his grace to act our part, will not judge us after the mode in which men carp or flatter, but will accept us according to the sincerity of our hearts. If we feel, “I was not working for you; I was working for God,” we shall not be much wounded by our neighbours’ remarks. 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. So may we reply to those who condemn us, — “We do not live for you, oh men; we live for our Lord.” So we escape the discouragements which come from ungenerous misapprehension and jealous censure.
21. This, too, will elevate you above the disappointments of failure, indeed, even of the saddest kind. If those you seek to bless are not saved, yet you have not altogether failed, for you did not teach or preach having the winning of souls as the absolute ultimatum of your work, you did it with the view of pleasing Jesus, and he is pleased with faithfulness even where it is not accompanied with success. Sincere obedience is his delight even if it leads to no apparent result. If the Lord should set his servant to plough the sea or sow the sand he would accept his service. If we should have to witness for Christ’s name to sticks and stones, and our hearers should be even worse than blocks of marble, and should turn again and rend us, we may still be filled with contentment, for we shall have done our Lord’s will, and what more do we want? To plod on under apparent failure is one of the most acceptable of all works of faith, and he who can do it year after year is assuredly well-pleasing to God.
22. 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. The truth is we shall go on with our work for ever if our service is pleasing to the Lord. We shall please him up there even better than we do here. And what if our enterprise here should seem to end, as far as man is concerned, we have done it for the Lord, and our record is on high, and therefore it is not lost. Nothing that is done for Jesus will be destroyed: the flower may fade, but its essence remains; the tree may fall, but its fruit is stored; the cluster may be crushed, but the wine is preserved; the work and its place may pass away, but the glory which it brought to Jesus shines as the stars for ever and ever.
23. Indeed, and this lifts us above the deadening influence of age and the infirmities which come with multiplied years. What little we can do we do it all the more thoroughly for Jesus as our experience matures. If we must contract our the sphere activity, we condense and intensify the motive. If we are living for Christ, we love him even when our heart grows cold towards other things. When the eye grows dim earthwards, it brightens towards heaven; when the ear can hardly hear the voice of singing men and singing women, it knows the music of the name of Jesus; and when the hand can do little in human business, it begins feeling for the strings of its celestial harp so that it may make melody for the Well-Beloved. I know of nothing which can possibly elevate our spirit as workers for Christ like the sense of doing all for the Lord and not for men. May the Spirit of God help us to rise into this perfect consecration.
24. I do not have time to say any more than just this word. A due sense of serving the Lord would ennoble all our service beyond conception. Think of working for him, — for him, the best of masters, before whom angels consider it glory to bow. Work done for him is in itself the best work that can be, for all that pleases him must be pure and lovely, honest and of good report. Work for the eternal Father and work for Jesus are works which are good and only good. To live for Jesus is to be swayed by the noblest of motives. To live for the incarnate God is to blend the love of God and the love of men into one passion. To live for the ever-living Christ is elevating for the soul, for its results will be most enduring. When all other work is dissolved this shall endure. Men spoke of painting for eternity, but we in very deed serve for eternity.
25. Soon all worlds shall behold the nobility of the service of Christ, for it will bring with it the most blessed of all rewards. When men look back on what they have done for their fellow men, how little is the reward of a patriotic life! The world soon forgets its benefactors. Many, many a man has been borne aloft in youth amid the applause of men, and then in his old age he has been left to starve into his grave. He who scattered gold at first, begs pence at last: the world called him generous while he had something to give, and when he had bestowed all it blamed his imprudence. He who lives for Jesus will never have a reason for complaining concerning his Lord, for he does not forsake his saints. No man ever regretted anything he did for Jesus yet, except that he may regret that he has not done ten times more. The Lord will not leave his old servants. “Oh God, you have taught me from my youth: and so far I have declared your wondrous works; now also when I am old and grey-headed, oh God, do not forsake me,” such was the prayer of David, and he was confident of being heard. Such may be the confidence of every servant of Christ. He may go down to his grave untroubled; he may rise and enter the dread solemnities of the eternal world without a fear, for service for Christ creates heroes to whom fear is unknown.
26. 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 outside of him, nor honour except in his honour, nor success except in the progress of his kingdom, WE SHALL EVEN THEN HAVE DONE NO MORE THAN HE DESERVES AT OUR HANDS.
27. For, first, we are God’s creatures. For whom should a creature live except 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? As many as have believed in Jesus are the product of that divine power which raised the Son of God from the dead, shall they not live in newness of life? God has taken great pains with us, that he has made us twice over, and he has made a new heaven and a new earth for us to dwell in; whom should we serve with all our mind except him by whom we have been made anew? Then comes in redemption. We are not our own, for we are bought with a price. We dare not be selfish: we may not put self in opposition to God, but I must go further, — we may not allow self to be at all considered apart from God. Even when it seems that self and God might both be served at the same time, it must not be; self in any degree will spoil everything. We are never to be masters, but always servants; and to serve ourselves is to make ourselves masters. Turn your eyes, oh my heart, to the cross and see him bleeding there whom heaven adored: he is the light of glory, the joy and bliss of perfect spirits, and yet he dies there in unutterable pangs — dies for me. Oh bleeding heart, my name was engraven upon you! Oh tortured brain, your thoughts were all on me! Oh Christ, you loved me and still love me, and that I should serve you seems only natural; that I should pray to serve with intense white-hot enthusiasm is an impulse of my life. Do you not confess it is so, my brethren? Besides, remember you are one with Christ. Whom should the spouse serve except her husband? Whom should the hand serve except the head? It is scarcely service. Christ is your alter ego, your other self — no, your very self; should you not live for him? You are bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh and therefore you must love him. Let a divine selfishness impel you to love your Lord. No hand, I think, considers it hard to be serving his own head. Surely, it can be no hardness to do service to him with whom we are joined by bonds and bands of vital union. He is our head, and we are his body and his fulness. Let us fill up his glory; let us spread abroad the praises of his name. May God help us to never finish this sermon, but to begin it now and go on preaching it in our lives world without end. For heaven shall be in this: “Not to us, not to us, but to your name be praise”; and the beginnings of heaven are with us now, the youth, the dawn of glory, in proportion while we say from our very souls, “Whether we live, we live for the Lord; and whether we die, we die for the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” And so shall it be henceforth and for ever.
As for those who know nothing about this, since they do not know
Christ, may the Lord bring them to believe in Jesus Christ today, so
that they may through his grace become his servants. Amen and amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Lu 6]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 145” 145]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Dedication To God — ‘My Beloved Is Mine And I Am His’ ” 660]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Dedication To God — ‘The Lord Is My Portion’ ” 661]
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 145 (Part 1)
1 Long as I live I’ll bless thy name,
My King, my God of love;
My work and joy shall be the same,
In the bright world above.
2 Great is the Lord, his power unknown,
And let his praise be great:
I’ll sing the honours of thy throne,
Thy works of grace repeat.
3 Thy grace shall dwell upon my tongue;
And, while my lips rejoice,
The men that hear my sacred song
Shall join their cheerful voice.
4 Fathers to sons shall teach thy name,
And children learn thy ways;
Ages to come thy truth proclaim,
And nations sound thy praise.
5 Thy glorious deeds of ancient date
Shall through the world be known;
Thine arm of power, thy heavenly state,
With public splendour shown.
6 The world is managed by thy hands,
Thy saints are ruled by love;
And thine eternal kingdom stands,
Though rocks and hills remove.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 145 (Part 2)
1 Sweet is the memory of thy grace,
My God, my heavenly King;
Let age to age thy righteousness
In sounds of glory sing.
2 God reigns on high, but not confines
His goodness to the skies;
Through the whole earth his bounty shines
And every want supplies.
3 With longing eyes thy creatures wait
On thee for daily food;
Thy liberal hand provides their meat,
And fills their mouths with good.
4 How kind are thy compassions, Lord!
How slow thine anger moves!
But soon he sends his pardoning word
To cheer the souls he loves.
5 Creatures, with all their endless race,
Thy power and praise proclaim;
But saints that taste thy richer grace
Delight to bless thy name.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
The Christian, Dedication To God
660 — “My Beloved Is Mine And I Am His”
1 When I had wander’d from his fold,
His love the wanderer sought;
When slave like into bondage sold,
His blood my freedom bought.
2 Therefore that life, by him redeem’d,
Is his through all its days;
And as with blessings it hath teem’d,
So let it teem with praise.
3 For I am his, and he is mine,
The God whom I adore!
My Father, Saviour, Comforter,
Now and for evermore.
4 When sunk in sorrow, I despair’d,
And changed my hopes for fears,
He bore my griefs, my burden shared,
And wiped away my tears.
5 Therefore the joy by him restored,
To him by right belongs:
And to my gracious loving Lord,
I’ll sing through life my songs:
6 For I am his, and his is mine,
The God whom I adore!
My Father, Saviour, Comforter,
Now and for evermore!
John S. B. Monsell, 1863.
The Christian, Dedication To God
661 — “The Lord Is My Portion”
1 From pole to pole let others roam,
And search in vain for bliss;
My soul is satisfied at home,
The Lord my portion is.
2 Jesus, who on his glorious throne
Rules heaven, and earth, and sea,
Is pleased to claim me for his own,
And give himself to me.
3 His person fixes all my love,
His blood removes my fear:
And while he pleads for me above,
His arm preserves me here.
4 His word of promise is my food,
His Spirit is my guide:
Thus daily is my strength renew’d,
And all my wants supplied.
5 For him I count as gain each loss,
Disgrace for him renown;
Well may I glory in his cross,
While he prepares my crown!
John Newton, 1779.
These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).
Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.