Self-Forgetfulness in Work

The man who forgets himself in his work has but one thing to think of---his work. The man who cannot forget himself has two things to think of---his work and himself. There is the distraction and the waste. The energy cannot be concentrated and directed on its one result. Who wants to see a politician whose whole thought might be given to the good of the country for ever pulled aside to think how what he purposes to do will affect his popularity, his credit, his chance of being elected again? A student seeks for truth, but mingled with his search there is the desire for fame or some position; and truth hides her deepest secrets for a man like him. So everywhere the noblest streams grow muddy with self-consciousness. Only here and there a stream refuses to be muddied; and then, whether it be great or small, in its forgetfulness of self it flows on to its work, and makes men's hearts joyous and strong. We must make ourselves inconspicuous; and the only way to do it is to stand in the presence of God, and be so possessed with Him that there shall be no space or time left for the poor intrusion of our own little personality.

Christ asks; 'Wilt thou be made whole?' We must be whole-hearted.

Col. 3:23.---' Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.'

'WHATSOEVER YE DO.'---This great word 'whatsoever' covers all the ground of human effort, and claims it all for God. Work may be drudgery, or delight. That does not always depend on the kind of work, but on the spirit in which it is done.

The very best is in us is a duty that we owe to God's purposes in the world; is a duty we owe to our brothers, who are fighting a sore battle, and who have a right to demand that nothing of ours should fail them in the pinch. But it is a duty that we also owe to ourselves. We believe that God actually cares for good work of all sorts, that He verily delights in it, and for its own sake.

'Whatsoever ye do, DO IT HEARTILY.'---These words were never better illustrated than in the life of the man who penned them. There was an enthusiasm and a concentration about Paul. 'One thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind, I press towards the mark,' says the Apostle; and whatsoever he did, he did it heartily, as unto the Lord who loved him so. It gives a wonderful power to these words, and changes their mandate with redoubled urgency.

The virtue of whole-heartedness is one of the conditions of the truest happiness. There comes a certain joy, a certain zest and buoyancy of spirit, when whatsoever we do is done heartily, as to the Lord. When we are half-hearted, the hours have leaden feet. We become fretful, easily provoked. But when, subduing feeling, we turn with our whole energy of soul to grapple with our duty or with our cross, it is wonderful how under the long shadows we hear unexpectedly a sound of music. To be half-hearted is to be half-happy. It is to live in a lack-luster kind of way. And so it is to live in an un-Christlike way, it is to know little of the joy of Jesus. Was not the joy of Jesus Christ linked, far down, with His whole-hearted service? He never could have spoken of His joy but for His unswerving fidelity to God. And when at last upon the Cross there rang out the loud, glad cry. 'It is finished,' there was joy in it because the stupendous work of saving men had been carried through to its triumph and its crown.

The more heartily we do our duty, the more we feel we are doing it for God. It is one of the secrets for bringing heaven near us, for feeling the Infinite with us and within us, to be whole-hearted in the present task. Thinkers have often noted this strange fact: that great enthusiasms tend to become religious. Let a man be mastered by any great idea, and sooner or later he will find the shadow of God on it. But that is true not of great enthusiasms alone; it holds a whole-heartedness in every sphere. When Luther said, 'to labor is to pray,' we may be sure that he did not mean that work could ever take the place of prayer. He knew too well the value of the quiet hour with God ever to think that toil could take its place. But just as in earnest prayer we are led into the presence and glory of the King, so in our earnest and whole-hearted toil we are led into a peace and strength without which no man shall see the Lord. It is in that sense that to labor is to pray. And the loss of all half-hearted men and women is this, that above the fret and weariness of things they catch no glimpse of the eternal purpose, nor of the love, nor of the joy of God.

God Himself is the Great Skilled Worker or Craftsman. When we remember the thoroughness of the Creator's workmanship; when we think of the consummate genius and care that He lavished on the tiniest weed; when we recall the age-long discipline that was preparing the world for Jesus Christ; we feel that the heart of God is in His work. And unless our heart is in our work we must be out of touch with the Creator, the master-builder, the thorough and perfect workman. And a half-hearted servant cannot have any kinship with a whole-hearted Lord.

'Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, AS TO THE LORD.'---Paul lays his hand on the real secret of all the large enthusiasms. He centers his appeal upon a person. Had he been writing in some quiet academy, the text might have read like this, 'Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, for that is the road to nobility of character.' But it was for the great world he wrote. And he knew that nothing abstract, nothing cold, would ever inspire the enthusiasm of thousands. A cause must be concentrated in some powerful name, it must live in the flesh and blood of personality, if the hearts of the many are ever to be won. So Paul, with the true instinct of universal genius, gathered all abstract arguments for zeal into the living argument of Jesus. The secret of all noble living lies in fellowship with Jesus Christ.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha