The fact of service suggests the thought of remuneration. A certain equivalent is given in the world for labor and called pay. When a man undertakes toil for another the understanding is that he is to be recompensed.
This universal observance is not dropped in the spiritual life, and is found working there with greater results and richer satisfaction than anywhere else. Christ is discovered to be the best of paymasters. He does not propose that a man should serve Him for nothing, and he who hangs back from the Christian life for fear of loss shows that he has not read the Bible nor studied the lives of God’s people. Christ not only pays, but remunerates abundantly, and in many ways besides.
The pay day is not necessarily Monday, Wednesday, or Saturday; nor at the end or first of the month. One of the peculiar features connected with Heaven’s way of rewarding is seen in its suddenness and unexpectedness. The soul may be weary and discouraged, when, in another instant, it is thrilled and delighted with a blessed enrichment from the skies, in heaven’s best coin, which goes rolling, clinking and sparkling all over the tables of the heart.
Moreover, this pay of Christ does not consist of one kind of coin; for even the nations of the earth have gold, silver, copper and paper, but heaven has all this and more beside to make up the celestial currency. It is not, however, the financial part of the reward that we speak of in this chapter, although there is no question but that it pays to serve God in this world, even for material reasons. It is the more spiritual side of the question we would now dwell upon.
One pay is realized in sudden influences of peace and joy.
Not more certainly does a tide sweep into a partially emptied bay or harbor, nor a delightful breeze pour itself through the gates of the west with reviving, exhilarating power into a sultry evening, than that divine influences are made to breathe upon and sweep over a fainting Christian soul.
The change seen upon the face of Nature is not more remarkable than the transformation in the man or woman. A sweet, new strength is in the heart, a new light seems falling on the earth, while a new willingness to endure burdens and perfect victory for the time being, over all thing, is in the soul.
Now it is we say, if in the regenerated experience, we will go in the strength of this meat forty days and nights; we will not worry any more about our troubles; and we fully intended to do as we said. But the manna melted by nine o’clock, the meat lasted but one day, the water gave out in the wilderness, and the old time murmurings were resumed. So we went on our way until we obtained the higher form of Christian remuneration an abiding joy in the soul.
A second kind of pay is the gracious renewing of the spiritual life.
A tide or mighty wind sweeping in is one thing, while the dew falling silently on the grass and a zephyr stealing from the skies is another. In like manner there are gentle manifestations of divine power. There are influences breathed upon us by the Holy Spirit, which for tenderness, quietness, and yet completeness of heart renewal would defy all description. David alludes to this when he says, “He restoreth my soul.”
Sometimes we are exhausted by a day of toil or we may have talked too much; anyhow the soul has been hurt in some manner. A weak, dispirited feeling is upon us; the discouraging whisper is in the heart, “You have failed again!” Just then, while brooding upon the matter, we feel the divine touch, a gentle, reviving influence comes upon the soul, and lo! we are made whole again!
It might have been in the house of God; or in the closet of prayer; or with Bible in hand; or while sitting thoughtfully by one’s self without any conscious act of worship or effort made to touch the Lord, when suddenly we were made whole. It was done so gently, graciously and satisfyingly that the eyes were filled with happy tears, and the soul lost in wonder, love and praise.
A third pay is a habitually restful heart.
The Christian who possesses the secret of full salvation well knows this peculiar reward of Christ. The world cannot give it. Money cannot purchase it. Success cannot guarantee it. These conditions of life may bring spasms of gladness, thrills of temporary pleasure, but Christ alone can give the restful soul.
It is certainly a marvellous blessing to wake up in the morning, not only without the old-time heavy load on the heart, but with a deep, sweet peace in the soul. In spite of every changing circumstance of life it is our privilege to awaken each morning with a song in the heart. This is the pay that Christ gives every one of His followers who have followed Him not only to the cross, but tarried in the upper room for the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
A fourth payment is felt in the consciousness of being a blessing to others.
It is a great thing to help in any way an immortal being made in the image of God. It must make a very soft death bed pillow to the philanthropist or to any benevolent man who has made life easier and sweeter to his fellow creatures by the gifts of his hands in material mercies.
And yet there is something beyond this in the character and duration of benefits. The soul is far greater than the body, and he who brings that soul to Christ, or if it be already saved, will do that for it which enlarges, ennobles, strengthens, and in different ways blesses it, that man is doing even more for his brother, a something that money and food cannot do, and that will endure as a work when suns have burned out and stars have dropped from their sockets.
It is impossible to be a true follower of Christ without being such a blessing to others. And, moreover, we are permitted to see a part of our labor; and this is in itself a wonderful pay. Who can look for a moment on a man pardoned and sanctified, comforted and blessed under one’s own words and influence without the sweetest joy in the soul.
Sin pulls men down. The sinner is compelled to look at the ghastly spectacle of human beings dragged down in different ways by himself. This is some of the wages of the transgressors and a sad pay it is.
Christianity builds up and sets fallen men on their feet, and so a part of the Christian pay is to see a procession of happy faced men and women on their way to glory, whom, under God, he started for the better world through his devoted labors.
Dr. C.K. Marshall, one of the most gifted preachers in the South, was sitting in his garden one day with an unusually heavy heart. He found it impossible to shake off the gloom. Glancing at a church paper in his hand his eyes fell on the obituary column, and he began reading about the triumphant death of a Christian lady in Arkansas. The notice ended by saying, “This godly woman was saved under the ministry of Dr. A. K. Marshall.” At once the tears gushed to the eyes of the preacher, and a delicious joy filled his soul. All sadness was gone in the thought that he had led a soul to God and heaven. In other words, Christ dropped some of His pay into the soul of His drooping servant, and, judging from the happy tears, swelling heart and beaming face, that pay was eminently satisfactory.
A fifth payment is the friendship and love of the people.
Some Christians are given to talking of their sacrifices for the gospel, what they left and what they gave up. If they would begin to count up what they have gained they would be amazed.
We have certainly added to our fathers and mothers; for while leaving one we have had given us scores in the Gospel, whose tenderness and affection we cannot doubt, and whose trembling hands have been laid on our heads in blessing as fervently as if our natural parents.
We have also gained in brothers and sisters; for in leaving four or five we now have them by the hundreds and thousands. Moreover, they prove their love, and some of them have been kinder, gentler, more affectionate, and even more liberal to us than our own flesh and blood.
We have gained in homes. We left one, perhaps none, and lo! hundreds of houses over the land stand with hospitable doors wide open for our coming. To be a true Christian is to have a knife, fork, something to eat, a bed, and above all a cordial welcome at many a lovely and excellent home. Sin cannot and does not pay this way, but Christ can. We have never in our life heard of the doctor’s room, or the lawyer’s room, in any home in the land. But the “preacher’s room” is a household word.
It began with a woman in Shunem, who as she observed the holy life of Elisha said to her husband, “Let us build a room for him, and put in it a bed, stool, table and candlestick.” This is the first record of the prophet’s chamber or preacher’s room, but who can count them today? There are family circles that talk about the absent man of God. They write to him and send him word: “When are you coming? we all want to see you!” This is part of the pay of Christ.
A gentleman was going down the Ohio River to Cincinnati and southern parts beyond. He was a Christian, but a different and reserved one, and so held himself aloof from the other passengers. On arrival at Cincinnati he found that the boat would have to stay nearly two days before going on her journey down the river. Every passenger but himself was leaving the steamer. The prospect of the two days’ lonely waiting was not enviable; so, with a sudden rush of courage, he leaned over the guards, and, speaking to the throng of passengers crowding the gangway in their departure, he cried, “I don’t know one of you, but if any man out there loves the Lord Jesus he is my brother!” Instantly several gentlemen returned and shaking him by the hand cordially invited him to spend the two days with them instead of remaining at the hot, noisy wharf on the river side. He received three invitations in as many minutes to good Christian homes. The name of Jesus was the power which rolled the coin of a loving regard and welcome before him.
A sixth payment is the divine honor placed upon the follower of Christ.
We have all listened to lectures, addresses and discourses that were everything in an intellectual way. They received the admiration and applause of the audience, but it was evident that the favor of God was not upon the speaker.
On the other hand, we have listened to personal testimonies and sermons that fairly dripped with unction. Nothing brilliant or remarkable was said, but something undoubtedly was being done. The Lord was putting His hand upon His servant and setting His seal upon his every utterance. If this great honor could be purchased with money how quickly some would offer the price. But it is a coin in itself, and is given in exchange for a certain commodity, and that commodity a completely surrendered human life.
A minister once said of another who thus stood before an audience, full of the holy strength, confidence and independence born of such a relation with heaven: “He speaks as if what he said was true, and could not be denied. He towers up there in the pulpit like a giant. He acts as independently as if he were a king.”
Yes, all these things are characteristic of rich people, and a man with the blessed coin of heaven ringing in his soul, sparkling in his eyes, and rolling all over the table of his heart, might be excused if he feels rich, acts independently, thinks he is a giant, and looks like he is a king. Especially should this be so when his feelings and convictions are corroborated by the plain statement of the Bible which says that he is rich, that he is an heir of God, that he is equal to a thousand, and that he is a king here, and is to be a still greater one in the kingdom of glory.
This is part of Christ’s pay. O, that the people of the world who have been defrauded by the devil, cheated by his broken banks, and fooled with his numerous counterfeits, would come to Christ and receive a reward which is not only perfectly satisfactory in this life, but is to be an hundred fold more in the world to come!