It's too bad when a Christian does no longer feel warm-hearted and happy in that work God has given him to do.
It will cause injury to his own inner life. It wounds brotherly love and makes it lukewarm. And it hinders God's work itself. For to do a work with a heartless, tired feeling has a peculiar influence to cool off and deaden the fellow-servants. There surely is responsibility connected with a slacking-up in the work of God.
There are various reasons f or this slacking-up and cooling-off in God's work. We shall mention three of them:
1. A critical spirit.
In the fellowship of believers everything must be based on a common understanding. When a question is under discussion the different views and opinions must be permitted to be expressed. But when the time for decision has arrived a conciliatory spirit must prevail.
Then the individual ought to have humility and sufficient Christian spirit to respect the decision of the other brethren. And one or two brothers ought to have Christians good-will enough to believe that the other brethren also are deciding for the very best in a given case.
But this does not always take place. Instead of humility and good will, someone will go about with a sour, critical spirit-and spread out ill-will and mistrust against the other brethren
This spirit causes harm. It is not from God.
It is absolutely contrary to the fine spirit in the song:
"Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above."
2. An unstable spirit.
To be enthusiastic when it is new, but lose interest in it, no matter how good it may be, when the novelty has worn off-that is an undesirable characteristic.
Instability has ruined the good influence of many. The patient, persevering spiritual work with prayer meetings and preaching of the Word in the congregation and Inner Mission Fellowship has suffered harm in many places, because there were those who wanted to be in the limelight, but just so long as the thing was new.
The minister's Christianity might be above reproach. The lay people were solid and had the confidence and respect both as to life and doctrine.
But the work they were doing became so common-place and well-known. Even though this general work of the Kingdom has kept the Christian life in the neighborhood above board for many years and kept the Christian work among our people from dying out-nevertheless some people let all this pass for lye and cold water, or something quite worthless. They jump up after any new thing that offers itself upon the religious market.
May the evil of the unstable, double-minded spirit be far from us!
3. The downhearted spirit.
The money does not reach far enough. Brethren here and there have gone back on us in the Christian work. We don't see the fruit of our work as we expected. We meet up against a careless, lukewarm and unwilling spirit.
All this and much more is robbing us of our spiritual courage.
And yet-it is not permitted that we should cast away our boldness. For it is written: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind." It says: God has given us this.
K. B. Birkeland told once that he was present at a farewell festival for missionaries in Oslo. One of the outgoing young men said something like this: "I cannot say that I feel any great desire to go to China. After all I have heard and read about the Chinese, I have no great enthusiasm f or them. And I cannot say at all that I particularly love them."
Brandtzaeg and other leading men of the mission were stung at this speech. How could they send a man out to the mission field, who had no particular desire to go, nor could say that he loved the people he was to labor among?
But these leading men felt at ease when the young man added, that it was a special reason why he would go to the mission field just the same, namely that he knew that God had called him to the work. This man has labored in China for 35 years by this time, and he is there yet as one of the most efficient laborers who has ever been sent out there by the Norwegian mission societies.
He knew he was called by God. That was sufficient for him. It created a will in his heart to go. It upheld him in days of trial. It created a real concern for the salvation of China in his heart.
When the Lord called us into His blessed fellowship, then He also put that holy heart-concern for the salvation of others into our bosom.
He called us to service. Let this call be reason enough for us to hold out in good and evil days. "But let us not become weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we don't go tired."
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