Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spurgeon on How Faith Reconciles Us to Our Vocation

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) always seemed to preach with the gospel in view, even on practical matters such as work and vocation. Among the more intriguing points on the topic of vocation is this assertion -

Faith is beneficial to our vocation because it "reconciles [us] to the discomforts of [our] calling". What exactly does that mean? Well, I'll let him speak to us in his own words -

Faith has a beneficial influence...for it reconciles a man to the discomforts of his calling. It is not every calling that is easy or lucrative or honoured among men.

Faith teaches the humble worker to see Jesus in all his lowliness, condescending upon himself the form of a servant for our sakes. Faith reads "Jesus, knowing that he came forth from God and went to God, took a towel, and girded himself, and washed the disciples' feet." That was one of the most menial of employments, and if our Lord and Master did not disdain it why should we be ashamed of the humblest form of service?


I like the honesty of his counsel. Especially his acknowledgment that we are sometimes called to a vocation that is neither easy nor honored among men. Perhaps too much of the work/faith discussion is about making a grand impact on business, politics and culture. Could it be that not enough is said on how to redeem small, obscure and menial moments by humbly serving "as to the Lord"? Spurgeon's words can help us think differently about this.

Spurgeon goes on to tell us more about the fruit of gratitude in the life of a faith filled, humble worker.

Your faith ought to help you by arousing gratitude for deliverance from a far worse drudgery. You did for Satan things for which you are now ashamed... There is no degradation for anything that is done for God. Faith in God sanctifies the man and his calling too, and makes it pleasant to him to carry the cross of Christ in his daily labour.

Here's the gospel connection, from Spurgeon's perspective

Faith is a great teacher of humility for it bids us think little of ourselves and rest alone in God; and because it fosters humility it renders a man's task pleasant when else it would be irksome.
When the Lord makes us feel that we are poor undeserving creatures, we do not mind taking the lowest room or the meanest work for we feel that as long as we are out of hell and have a hope of heaven, the meanest service is an honour to us.

Another way faith reconciles us to the discomforts of our vocation is by enabling perseverance through the avenue of gospel hope.

Faith also removes discomforts by reminding us that they will not last long. Faith says of trial, "Bear it. The time is short. Soon the Saviour cometh and the poorest of his followers shall then reign with him". Toil on, O weary one, for the morning light will put an end to thy labour, which lasts only through the hours of darkness...Thus faith takes the thorns from our pillow, and makes us learn in whatsoever state we are therewith to be content

In this life, we may encounter what seems to be difficult, fruitless work but there's a better day coming where work will be creative, fruitful and joyfully fulfilling.

9 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

I like that statement, "there is no degradation in anything done for God." Of course, the question is, who determines what is done for God... us, or God, and how do we know?

Oh, and your request has been granted.

Every Square Inch said...

LL,

Thanks. Not that you asked but one reason I blogged on this is because I think too much of the work/faith discussion is "white collared" and about redeeming culture without considering how we can redeem seemingly small, menial work.

Working for God makes our work holy. Who determines that? I suppose we do, to a great extent by setting our hearts desire to please God through our work. God does by giving us that desire and by directing our paths.

Good question. Perhaps someone else may have a different answer

Rob said...

Dear Every Square Inch. Somehow I have no current contact info for you. Could you send me your new phone and e-mail to rob.wheeler@uk-alumni.org

Jedidiah said...

I kick myself for how often I fall into the trap of thinking that I must do and be something great for God so that my life will actually be worthwhile. The truth is that God is likely very unimpressed with my lofty aspirations - they simply cannot commend me to Him. I am commended to Him through Christ and by no one and nothing else. Because of this I can actually be content with my quiet little life where I grind it out at a difficult and cosmically unimportant job since I am in Christ and my Heavenly calling is infinitely higher than the highest earthly calling.

Great post, thanks for the reminder.

HALFMOM said...

"reconciles usto the discomforts of our calling" what a wonderful phrase.

while my work is efinitely "white collar" - it still has it's discomforts because it puts me up in front of people - a place where I'd rather not be.

a wonderful post

Every Square Inch said...

jedidiah

Thanks for your comments. Thanks for sharing nuggets of truth like

"The truth is that God is likely very unimpressed with my lofty aspirations - they simply cannot commend me to Him. I am commended to Him through Christ and by no one and nothing else."

I like how you articulated it - we cannot commend ourselves to God through our work. Through Christ alone and nothing else. Great thought to remember

Every Square Inch said...

HalfMom,

I love that phrase as well. It's so true in life that when we find things not as we prefer, in our work or otherwise, the only antidote to a discontented heart is to trust God.

I think that's essentially what Spurgeon says here - faith reconciling us to the discomforts of our vocation.

Ted Gossard said...

Good post. Much wisdom comes from Spurgeon and his writings. I think he's helping us to see more of God's perspective on things. Like when Jesus praised the offering of the widow in contrast to the bigger offerings of the rich. It's often those little things that we do in Jesus that can count for alot. While what looks like alot can count for very little.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted,

Thanks for weighing in. It's a reminder of being faithful in the little things.

God is not impressed with our accomplishments.