The Seriousness Of Living
By J. R. Miller
In one of his epistles, Paul has a remarkable passage about working for God (1 Cor. 3:9 ff.). He tells us that God and we are co-workers, and that we can do nothing without Him. This is true even in our common affairs.
Yet our part is important, and we must do it well and faithfully. Carelessness or neglect may lead to the marring of a life, or the loss of a soul – and the blame will be ours. A young mother wrote in a letter, “When I took my little boy in my arms the first time, and his little hand closed tightly round my finger, I realized what a godly woman I must be in order to help him to be a godly man.” God needs our faithfulness in doing His work in human lives. That is, He has ordained to use us, and we are held responsible for doing well our part. Our unfaithfulness may mar the work of God.
Gravely responsible is the work of a Christian minister. He must do work worthy of God’s honor. If he has only wood, hay, and stubble to bring, he would better never enter the pulpit. The same is true of the Sunday school teacher. He also is at work on God’s building. If he has only the trifles of social topics, bits of gossip, airy nothings, to give to his class, what that is worthwhile is he putting into the pupils’ lives?
The lesson applies to parents. They get the young life from God when as yet nothing has been built into it. What do they bring to put into the character they are helping to build? What are the influences of their home? What songs are sung beside the child’s cradle? What lessons are taught at a time when every lesson becomes a permanent part of the life? What books are put into the young hands when every sentence makes an indelible mark on the soul?
But the teaching is for us all; for we are all builders on the life-walls of others. What opportunities for edifying each other we all have in our conversations, as we sit together or walk by the way! Words are wonderful things. They may become adornments in the life of him to whom they are spoken; they may give happiness, courage, comfort, or impulse. There have been single words which have changed destinies. Then there are also words which are only rubbish – wood, hay, and stubble. Too much of the common conversation is poor building material to put into human lives. Too much of it is only idle words. Too much is criticism of the absent; hurtful gossip about people. Too much of it is wrangling and bitterness.
There is more of the lesson. “…The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3:13). Whatever in it is gold, silver or costly stones shall abide; but whatever is wood, hay or stubble shall perish. The things we are putting into the lives of others, are they imperishable things – things that will be elements of beauty in the immortal life? It is not enough that they be not evil; the yet more searching question is: Are they the gold, silver, and costly stones of truth and love?
We need to remember that it is not enough to be busy, active, ever doing something; the work we do must be true work for God, such as will really bless the world. We should not be satisfied with anything less than the consecration of our every act and word and every shred of our influence to holiness and good.