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"Not slothful in business; fervent in
spirit, serving the Lord."—Rom. 12:11 .
THE WORD business has a very broad signification. Whatever we do we are to do all unto the Lord; or rather, whatsoever we do we should do altogether unto the Lord. With the Christian, the chief business of life is to glorify God, to serve Him and, incidentally, as directed by the Lord, to serve the brethren, to serve the Truth, to serve righteousness, to serve all men as he has opportunity, "doing good unto all, especially to the household of faith." In our text the word business seems to include any occupation, of any kind, that would be approved of the Lord. It would not do for us to say, Be not slothful in the liquor business or the tobacco business, for we are to give our attention only to those occupations which we believe have the Lord's approval.
The expression, "not slothful," is equivalent to the expression, not lazy, not indolent. The Apostle's thought seems to be that any matter proper to be done should have the intelligent and active attention of him whose duty or privilege it is. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing zealously, well. The Apostle's thought is that we are, first of all, to see that our business is a worthy one; and secondly, to prosecute it faithfully. If it is to provide money for either our personal needs or the Lord's work, we should prosecute that business with energy, with alacrity and with appreciation of the privilege, as done to Him. We should not be slothful or careless in any way.
A certain amount of provision for our temporal need is necessary. How much time is to be given thus is a thing for each to determine for himself. After we have made a consecration to the Lord, to give our lives in His service, there is very little we can give at best. We should see that we "redeem the time," buy it back from the affairs of this life, as far as reasonably possible, in order to secure the more of it for the special service of promulgating the Truth. This does not mean that we should leave our families dependent upon others. We should care for our proper interests. We should not be overcharged, but should have a proper care for those dependent upon us. As for our own requirement, having food and raiment, we should be content and not wish to accumulate for a long period of life.
The word fervent signifies very hot, to boil. The thought that the Apostle gives its that whatsoever we do we should do heartily, with our might, as unto the Lord. The one who takes the course of doing whatever he does in a careless manner forms a slothful habit, which is a drag on him all through life. Whatever we do we should do fervently. We are the Lord's and whatever business we have is His. The Lord is pleased that we should be energetic in our affairs. If any one is in a business where he is violating conscience, he should get out of it into one in which he could do some good in the world.
The Lord's people should not worry or take anxious thought respecting tomorrow. The Scriptures imply, however, that we should be provident and careful, laying by in store, that we may be prepared to do something for neighbors and friends who may need. Dollars laid by merely represent so many days of labor saved. We should not use all of our resources upon the immediate present, but exercise self-control, to the end that we may have good results in the future. This rule will apply to food and clothing, also. If our store is small, we should not wonder where the next suit of clothes will come from. If we had the next suit it might be stolen. Neither should we wonder, If I accept the Truth, what shall I do if my neighbors and friends turn against me? What if I should get into great disrepute on account of the Truth? We should leave all such things to the Lord. If we need persecutions, we hope that He will let them come to us. If in that way He chooses to make the Truth worth something to us, we should be glad. "All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."—2 Tim. 3:12.
On the other hand, the Lord does not intend us to go through life in a careless manner, happy-go-lucky, so to speak. We are to have a proper thought for the day. What are the responsibilities of today? What are the cares? As the Scriptures enjoin, be "not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." We are to have a great deal of zeal. We are not to worry over things that may happen tomorrow, but have faith that God will be with us tomorrow, and given grace sufficient for us when it shall come. If the Lord's people are living faithfully they will have a great deal to think about every day. They will not need to go out in advance to worry about tomorrow. We shall have plenty to do if we give attention to the present difficulties, and go to the Throne of Grace that we may obtain grace and strength to help today.
Our Lord assures us that if the main thought of our hearts is concerning His service and the promotion of righteousness and the attainment of the Kingdom which God has promised to them that love Him, then we need carry no anxious cares respecting the future. As His disciples we shall have trials and tribulations enough day by day, and shall need daily to lean upon the Bridegroom's arm as we seek to walk the "narrow way." Sufficient for each day will be the evil of itself; and thanks by to God, we have also His promise that daily His grace shall be sufficient for us.
To those who are the Lord's consecrated people it is the greatest privilege imaginable to serve the Lord. The Lord is looking to see to what extent we are willing to sacrifice earthly things, earthly approval, that we may have His approval and hear His "Well done!"
Let all who would run the race successfully look well to their zeal and activity in the Lord's work. If we bury our one or many talents under a weight of worldly cares and encumbrances which might be avoided or set aside; if we bury them under worldly ambitions for either self or family—whether this be by wasting consecrated time upon science, philosophy, music, or art, or upon business, politics, or pleasures, or in pampering pride and appetite—then, as unfaithful servants, we shall sooner or later go into "outer darkness."