"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58).
Here we have an uncommonly fine motto for the Christian workman, and every Christian ought to be a workman. It presents a most valuable balance for the heart. We have immovable stability linked with unceasing activity.
This is of the utmost importance. There are some of us who are such sticklers for what we call principle that we seem almost afraid to embark in any scheme of large-hearted Christian activity. On the other hand, some of us are so bent on what we call service that in order to reach desired ends and realize noticeable results, we do not hesitate to overstep the boundary line of sound principle.
Now, our motto supplies a divine antidote for both these evils. It furnishes a solid basis on which we are to stand with steadfast purpose and immovable decision. We are not to be moved the breadth of a hair from the narrow path of divine truth, though tempted to do so by the most forcible argument of a plausible expediency. "To obey is better than sacrifice; and to hearken, than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15).
Noble words! May they be engraved in characters deep and broad on every workman's heart. They are absolutely invaluable, and particularly so in this our day when there is such willfulness in our mode of working, such erratic schemes of service, such self-pleasing, such a strong tendency to do that which is right in our own eyes, such a practical ignoring of the supreme authority of Holy Scripture.
It fills the thoughtful observer of the present condition of things with the very gravest apprehensions as he sees the positive and deliberate throwing aside of the Word of God, even by those who professedly admit it to be the Word of God. We are not speaking of the insolence of open and avowed infidelity, but of the heartless indifference of respectable orthodoxy. There are millions who profess to believe the Bible is the Word of God, who, nevertheless, do not have the smallest idea of submitting themselves absolutely to its authority. The human will is dominant. Human reason bears sway. Expediency commands the heart. The holy principles of divine revelation are swept away like autumn leaves or the dust of the threshing-floor before the vehement blast of popular opinion.
How immensely valuable and important in view of all this, is the first part of our workman's motto! "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and immovable." The "therefore" throws the soul back upon the solid foundation laid in the previous part of the chapter in which the apostle unfolds the most sublime and precious truth that can possibly engage the Christian's heart—truth which lifts the soul completely above the dark and chilling mists of the old creation and plants it on the solid rock of resurrection. It is on this rock we are exhorted to be steadfast and immovable. It is not an obstinate adherence to our own notions—to some favorite dogma or theory which we have adopted—or to any special school of doctrine. It is not anything of this kind, but a firm grasp and faithful confession of the whole truth of God of which a risen Christ is the everlasting Center.
But we have to remember the other side of our motto. The Christian workman has something more to do than to stand firmly on the ground of truth. He has to cultivate the lovely activities of grace. He is called to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord." The basis of sound principle must never be abandoned, but the work of the Lord must be diligently carried on. There are some who are so afraid of doing mischief that they do nothing; and others, who rather than not be doing something, will do wrong. Our motto corrects both. It teaches us to set our faces as a flint where truth is involved; while on the other hand, it leads us to go forth in largeness of heart and throw all our energies into the work of the Lord.
Let the Christian reader specially note the expression, "The work of the Lord." We are not to imagine for a moment that all which engages the energies of professing Christians is entitled to be designated "the work of the Lord." It is far from it! We see a mass of things undertaken as service for the Lord with which a spiritual person could not possibly connect the holy name of Christ. We desire to have the conscience exercised as to the work in which we embark. We deeply feel how needful it is in this day of willfulness, laxity and wild liberalism, to own the authority of Christ in all that we put our hands to, in the way of work or service. Blessed be His name, He permits us to connect Him with the most trivial and commonplace activities of daily life. We can even eat and drink in His holy name and to His glory.
The sphere of service is wide enough; it is only limited by that weighty clause, "The work of the Lord." The Christian workman must not engage in any work which does not place itself under that most holy and all-important heading. He must, before he enters upon any service, ask himself this great practical question, "Can this honestly be called the work of the Lord?"