A Pleasant Sight
by James Smith, 1860
Though God can work without instruments, and accomplish his purposes without using man — yet he is pleased to employ us, and at times our position is such that it appears as if the work could not be done without us. In this way, the Lord . . .
puts an honor upon us,
lays us under obligation, and
increases our responsibility.
When Israel came up out of the Babylonian captivity, how much depended on Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah. Without these men, humanly speaking, the work would never have been done — and yet they could not do the work alone. The citizens, mechanics, and laborers were all equally necessary. Each one had his part to perform, his work to do, and his place to keep; and in doing so, the city was raised, and the temple was built. They were distressed, discouraged, and dispersed by their foes — but as soon as there was safety and quiet, they returned "each one unto his own work." Nehemiah 4:15.
They had an important work in hand, they were rebuilding the city of the Lord, and the temple for the Lord. This was a work which required industry, self-denial, liberality, and perseverance.
Just so, we are called to a similar work — only ours is spiritual, and theirs was temporal. The holy city, and the spiritual temple are now in progress. The Lord Jesus is the great master-builder, and all his people are under him, and used by him. We are required to be industrious in wining souls, and in bringing them into union with the building. There is much to be done, and we have no time to spare, therefore we should be up and at it — all at it, and always at it.
Self-denial too should be practiced in our work. We should not study our ease, or the gratification of our lusts and passions; but should work as for God, as for eternity.
Nor should we spare our property — but should liberally employ it in the Lord's cause, and use it for the Lord's glory; no one can invest his money better, or lay it up more safely — than by laying it out in the work of God.
Having begun, we should persevere, for our Master has said, "He who puts his hand to the plough, and looks back — is not fit for the kingdom of God."
Beloved, let us all engage in God's work, and let us . . .
give liberally, and
persevere, until called home to enjoy everlasting rest.
The temple building is to be large and glorious, or as David said of old, "exceedingly magnificent." But the Jews had to defend what they built; they wrought with the sword on the thigh, and the trowel in the hand, for their enemies were vigilant and determined. Just so, we have to fight against Satan, prejudice, and corruption, which would otherwise creep in, and mar and spoil the work.
O for grace to work, watch, and fight in God's glorious cause!
The beauty of the sight, in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its temple — was to see every one at his work; and this would be a pleasant sight now. Every believer should be at work, for each one has some talent, and that talent was given by Jesus to be employed in his service, and for his honor. Every one should be at his proper work, for there is something for each one to do, and every one can do his own work best. Every Christian should feel a deep and growing interest in the conversion of sinners and the enlargement of the Church. Each should be concerned to do something for that purpose, and to do all he can. Of old — some hewed the stones, some built, some served, some watched, some gave, all took a part — just as it should be now. Let us then, examine ourselves: Am I at work? Am I at my proper work; that for which my talents qualify me? Am I doing all I can, and doing all as to the Lord, as for Jesus, who has done so much for me?
All idlers should be reproved, let us reprove them by our conduct, and at every fitting opportunity put the question, "Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?
Nor should we fail to exhort and encourage one another, for there is so much to be done, and there are so many discouragements in the way. Brethren, be constant in your places and at your employment, for in working for Jesus you are safe — but the loiterer and idler are in danger!
In the work of Jesus, there is pleasure, the sweetest pleasure; we may therefore work and sing. In the work of Jesus there is profit. Now we receive a hundred-fold, and in the world to come, we shall receive life everlasting. Let us expect interruptions and hindrances in our work — but let us always return to it again; and let us so work as those who look for the coming of the Master, and wish that at his coming he may find every one at his work!