‘Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.’ Song of Solomon 7:11–12
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 10:38–42
Some persons imagine that one cannot serve Christ actively and yet have fellowship with him. I think they are very much mistaken. I confess it is very easy to get into Martha’s position, and to be cumbered with much serving; you may have to preach here and there so many times a week, to attend committees, to visit sick people, and to do so many other things, that you may really, unless you are careful, fritter away your own inward life in outward exercises. I do not think, however, that there is any reason why this should be the case except through our own folly. Certain is it that a person may do nothing at all, and yet grow quite lifeless in spiritual things. Mary was not praised for sitting still; no, but for sitting still at Jesus’ feet. And so, Christians are not to be praised, if they neglect duties, merely because they live in retirement, and keep much at home: it is not sitting, I say, but sitting at Jesus’ feet. Had Martha been sitting still, or had Mary been sitting anywhere else, I doubt not that the Master would have given a word of rebuke: he would never had said that mere sitting still was choosing the good part. Indeed, I know some of you who are none the better for doing nothing, but a great deal the worse; for those who do nothing grow sour, and are always willing to find fault with the way in which others serve Christ. Do not think, therefore, that mere activity is in itself an evil: I believe it is a blessing. Taking a survey of Christ’s church, you will find that those who have most fellowship with Christ, are not the persons who are recluses or hermits, who have much time to spend with themselves, but they are the useful indefatigable labourers who are toiling for Jesus.
For meditation: Devotion to God and his Word is not an alternative to Christian service. Devotion should lead to action; action should spring from devotion (Joshua 1:8; Daniel 11:32; 2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Sermon no. 605
18 December (1864)