Sunday, February 16, 2014
A Doer Who Works Is Blessed by Doing
Guest Sermon by Rev. Andrew Murray
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." (James 1:22, 25)
God created us not to contemplate but to act. He created us in His own image, and in Him there is no Thought without simultaneous Action.
True action is born of contemplation. True contemplation, as a means to an end, always begets action. In nothing is the power of sin more clearly seen than this, that even in the believer there is such a gap between intellect and conduct. It is possible to delight in hearing, to be diligent in increasing our knowledge of God’s word, to admire and approve the truth, even to be willing to do it, and yet to fail entirely in the actual performance. Hence the warning of James, not to delude ourselves with being hearers and not doers. Hence his pronouncing the doer who works blessed in his doing.
Blessed in doing. - The words are a summary of the teaching of our Lord Jesus at the close of the Sermon the Mount: ‘He who does the will of My Father shall enter the kingdom of heaven.’
‘Everyone who hears My words, and does them, shall be like a wise man.’ To the woman who spoke of the blessedness of her who was his mother: ‘Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.’ To the disciples in the last night: ‘If you know these things, happy are you if ye do them.’ It is one of the greatest dangers in religion that we rest content with the pleasure and approval which a beautiful representation of a truth calls forth, without the immediate performance of what it demands. It is only when conviction has been translated into conduct that we have proof that the truth is mastering us.
A doer that works shall be blessed in doing. - The doer is blessed. The doing is the victory that overcomes every obstacle it brings out and confirms the very image of God, the Great Worker; it removes every barrier to the enjoyment of all the blessing God has prepared. We are ever inclined to seek our blessedness in what God gives, in privilege and enjoyment. Christ placed it in what we do, because it is only in doing that we really prove and know and possess the life God has bestowed.
When one said, ‘Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God,’ our Lord answered with the parable of the supper, ‘Blessed is he that forsakes all to come to the supper.’ The doer is blessed. As surely as it is only in doing that the painter or musician, the man of science or commerce, the discoverer or the conqueror find their blessedness, so, and much more, is it only in keeping the commandments and in doing the will of God that the believer enters fully into the truth and blessedness of deliverance from sin and fellowship with God.
Doing is the very essence of blessedness, the highest manifestation, and therefore the fullest enjoyment of the life of God.
A doer who works shall be blessed in doing. - This was the blessedness of Abraham, of whom we read (James 2:22): "You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was make perfect by his works" He had no works without faith; there was faith working with them and in them all. And he had no faith without works: through them his faith was exercised and strengthened and perfected. As his faith, so his blessedness was perfected in doing. It is in doing that the doer who works is blessed. The true insight into this, as a Divine revelation of the true nature of good works, in perfect harmony with all our experience in the world, will make us take every command, and every truth, and every opportunity to abound in good works as an integral part of the blessedness of the salvation Christ has brought us. Joy and work, work and joy, will become synonymous: we shall no longer be hearers but doers.
Let us put this truth into immediate practice. Let us live for others, to love and serve them. Let not the fact of our being unused to labors of love, or the sense of ignorance and unfitness, keep us back. Only begin. If you think you are not able to labor for souls, begin with the bodies. Only begin, and go on, and abound. Believe the word, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Pray for and depend on the promised grace. Give yourself to a ministry of love; in the very nature of things, in the example of Christ, in the promise of God you have the assurance: If you know these things, happy are you if you do them. Blessed is the doer!
Adapted from "Working for God!" by Rev. Andrew Murray, 1901 (chapter 27)