In the Lord’s work the principle is that before we can do anything for the Lord we need to allow Him to work Himself into us. The result is not that “we work for the Lord” but that “we work with the Lord” and even “we are the Lord’s work”.
We should not do things for the Lord before we allow Him to work Himself into us. We cannot cheat ourselves or God – what we labor to produce today will come to be fully shown in its maturity in a couple of years.
If our person is wrong, we cannot produce good fruit. The kind of persons that we are determines the kind of children / fruit that you produce. This is why we need to allow God to work Himself into us more, so that what comes out of us, our work, would be Christ Himself.
what kind of person are we?
Matt. 7:17 says, Even so every good tree produces good fruit, but the corrupt tree produces bad fruit. If we seek the Lord and love Him yet in our personal time, on our own, in secret, we also love some aspects of the world, what we produce will not be “good fruit”.
Someone who loves football and also loves the Lord, if he brings someone into the church life it will be someone who loves football even more than he does. A good tree produces good fruit, and a corrupt tree produces evil fruit.
What kind of person are we? It is our person that produces the fruit and not the quantity of our work and labor for the Lord.
Some people may have miraculous gifts and even much spiritual power, but their person is more of a damage to the church than their gift. What they do builds up the church a little, but what they are damages and tears down a lot.
We need to be the kind of persons that Paul describes in 1 Tim. 3, and not people who seek to have a great gift or a capability. We build up by what we are and not merely by what we do.
If what we are is not right, if we are not dealt with by the Lord and we don’t have God wrought into our being continually, what we do may build up a little but what we are in our person will tear down much more.
the sin of the sanctuary
We sin in many ways, and most of the sins we commit are common, for which the blood of the Lord is available to wash us and cleanse us if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). But in the Lord’s work there is a special sin that we can commit – the sin of the sanctuary. This sin may not be related to pride, jealousy, etc, but it damages God’s work.
“When the flesh is manifested, when the self-will is exposed, and when one speaks rashly or makes suggestions rashly, one often commits the special sin that pertains to the work…. Sinning in the work means offending God in His holiness, glory, and sovereignty. In God’s work, everything that is incompatible with God’s will is a sin and is an iniquity of the sanctuary.” (Watchman Nee)
This all comes back to our person, our inward being. All Christians have the desire to do something for God, but before we can do something for Him we need Him to do something for us.
We need to let God work Himself into us, deal with us, transform us, renew us, and saturate us with His element, so that the work would be God in us doing something and not us doing something in ourselves.
3 essential features of God’s work
Watchman Nee discovered three essential features of God’s work, three very important considerations in God’s work – which we should never forget.
- The initiation of God’s work must be according to His will (see Matt. 15:13; 1 Cor. 8:6). The initiation of working for God is not our desire to serve God, nor our good will, nor even the need for some things to be done – God’s will is the initiation of the work. The work initiates from God and His will, not from us. STOP initiating things! Let God initiate!
- The advance of God’s work is according to His power (2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 3:10). We don’t work for God in our own strength, doing our best in our own power, but by the grace of God and the power of God. Only according to His power can His work advance. It has nothing to do with us – it is God’s power in us and through us.
- The result of God’s work must be for His glory (John 7:17-18; Eph. 3:21). If God’s will initiates and through God’s power the work is advancing, the glory will be God’s. God does not share His glory with us in this respect, and we should never desire to obtain any glory or appreciation in God’s work. To God be the glory!
The work of the Lord is not of us, through us, or for / unto us, but it is of God’s will, through God’s power, and unto God’s glory. These have nothing to do with us, but it is all of God, through God, and unto God.
How about your work? Is your work initiated by God’s will or out of your “own personal burden for the Lord’s work”? Is your work for the Lord carried out through your own power, or is it God’s power operating in you and advancing the work? Who gets the glory, the acclamation, and the praise when the work is accomplished? Is it you or is it God who is glorified?
If we fail to see these three principles and we don’t respect them, we commit the sin of the sanctuary, the sin against God Himself. How much we need God to deal with our person and to make us the right kind of people who cooperate with Him and work with Him for His Body!
Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness in showing us how much we need You. Lord, we give ourselves to You – we give our our whole being, our entire person. Make us the right kind of person, Lord! We want to produce good fruit – Lord, work Yourself into us! Even in our work for You, Lord, we want to allow You to initiate, allow You to operate, and give all the glory to You! Make us those who work with You for the Body!
References and Further Reading
- Sharing inspired from, The Collected Works of Watchman Nee (vol. 42, ch. 45), as quoted in, the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Taking the Lead as Elders and Responsible Ones, week 8.
- Buy the morning revival book online via LSM.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Am I a person of life, do I experience life / Does my living bear the issues of life?
# Good trees bear good fruit, / Healthy plant, healthy root, / O Lord, the ground in my heart!
# The overflow of life is work, / The work should be our living!
- Picture source: what kind of person are you?