Making A Living
The strongest natural desire of the human heart is to live. And the great decisive question for each living soul is: How shall I live? Let us read together the first three verses of the 12th chapter of John and see how the three people here spoken of made a living:
“Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.” That’s how Lazarus got his living: straight from Jesus.
“Then they made Him a supper; and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.” That’s how Martha made her living: she served.
“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with odor of the ointment.” That’s the way Mary chose to make her living: she anointed.
The Living God
God calls Himself not a force, not a power, not an influence, but “the living God.” He has shown Himself forth in three ways at least. Through creation, through conscience and through the revelation of His spirit to ours. These three people, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, show forth these three revelations. Martha for the realm of creation, Mary for the realm of conscience and Lazarus for the realm of spirit.
We are made, spirit, soul and body.
The five senses connected with our bodies are so constructed that they take in all the impressions of the created world, and the power of intelligence at the center of our brains turns these impressions into ideas. We feel iron. We get an impression. We feel cloth. We get an impression, and the two impressions taken together give us an idea of difference. We give names to these different ideas.
Order In The World
Thus, to our intelligence can be revealed a whole ordered world, and we can stand amazed at the beauty and grandeur of the revealed creation. We can find its laws and try to make a fine adjustment and ordering of our lives accordingly. Some folks call this ordering and fine regulating and adjusting living. They go father and get their highest living joy out of this regulating and fine combining and adjusting and fitness. I grant that God makes some revelation in all this. How dead is that living that cannot feel the joy of the coming and going of the seasons, the regular coming and going of the tide! There is revelation here of an unseen power that regulates, that adjusts. How mighty are the feelings that come to the sailor as his ship mounts the waves and the wind fills the sails; as he regulates the ship to the wind, and uses its power to propel him onward. How delicious the salt spray on his tanned and bearded face, as he sees the power of wind and the floating ability of water combined to carry him on his journey. There is great joy to him in this revelation of floating fitness, this unseen power that holds his ship above the deep, where it can catch the power of the breeze and sail on.
The regulation of trunk, branches and twigs, the coming of definitely shaped leaves, the bursting forth of blossoms, the coming of the fruit and then the harvest, all speak of a fine order and fitness within the keeping of some unseen hand.
The mountain peaks, with their snowcapped tops: a storage of the summer’s water, tolled out by the passing hours through the sun’s rays to a waiting valley below, tell the story of a fine conservatism, a wise planning of an unseen intelligence.
The music of the songbirds and the music of the human voice sound forth to put the sunshine into gloom, and show the shadings of emotions that gladden the heart. It is the revelation of a hand with fine adjustment that can tune the sound to the ear and open the ear through tender doors into the emotions. Everything about us shows order, arrangement, fitness. Martha lived in this realm. She kept an ordered house. No dust was on Martha’s mantel if she had one. The breakfast bell rang at the ordered hour and Lazarus and Mary heard about it if they didn’t show up at once. And Lazarus knew there was water for his feet and a place for his sandals just outside the door, and he didn’t dare step on the new rug Martha had made and placed at the entrance until the foot business had been seen to. It was a regulated home. I am not objecting to regulation.
There’s A Place For Order
Why no, bless you; the most failures I see around me are because folks have never learned to do things when they should be done or to come when they’re called. I know preachers that are failures, not because they are not bright, but because they can’t divide their day and regulate it and do things on time and are thinking they are overworked.
Oh! the wrecked lives of young men and women who try to make a living and cannot because they have never learned to do anything on time and keep things in order.
Well, then, if there is a revelation of the marvelous wonderworking hand of God in creation, why is it not worship or real living to be taken up with the wonders of science and art and all order and fitness and “the glories of a created world?” Just here in these last words is a key to the why not. “The glories of a created world.” Oh! what a multitude of Earth go no farther toward God than this. They delight themselves in the things God has created, in His marvels of fitness in art and science and in His revelation of majestic forces, but here is the objection to this being called living: They do not delight themselves in Him. It is as if I call to you and you come to me and examine my lips and throat and lungs by which I made the call and never look at me. Jesus did not condemn Martha for the part she had, but He told her that Mary had found a better way and He wouldn’t ask Mary to come down to a revelation through order and service and having things just so when Mary had come to a relation in conscience and soul.
Mary saw all that Martha saw and then some. Mary could serve as well as Martha and then some. She could serve in Martha’s realm and in a higher realm also. She not only saw fitness, but she had time to sit and talk with the Christ who had created and fitted together all the delicate parts of creation. Martha had no time for this. She was specializing in order and regularity and had no time to talk with the one who orders the planets in their courses and regulates the time of their turning. Mary had time to sit and talk to Him who “was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men.”—John 1:1–4
Mary had seen past the hand that wrought wonders to the wonderful Him. Oh! arise today in your soul and say: “His ways are wonderful, but I must know the wonderful One.” Martha saw duty and doing. Mary saw this also and saw her undoing because of sin, and His death because of it. Martha could set the table. So could Mary, but she could sit and see Jesus preparing a glorious feast for humanity through His death and resurrection, and she anointed Him with the costly spikenard for this reason, as Jesus Himself said: “Against the day of my burying hath she kept this.”
Mary vs. Martha
Mary was walking in a realm of life where the eternal issues of life could be impressed upon her. Her five senses were open to the impressions from the outside world as well as Martha’s. But the senses of her soul, her conscience were also open to the revelations that are eternal and have to do with the soul’s destinies. Like all truly converted souls, she had seen what sin was and its awfulness. Dirt was awful to Martha, so was it to Mary, but sin was the awful thing that she saw and Jesus it’s wonderful cure. Martha saw that things must be taken care of and regulated or they would spoil. Mary saw this also and saw that souls had spoiled and were marked for death. She saw Romans 6:23 was true, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Mary saw the earth that Martha saw, but she saw the world as Martha did not see it but as Jesus saw it, lost and undone because of sin. Mary had been truly born again. She could say that once she saw only what Martha saw, but now she saw death and a Savior from death; sin and His payment for sin. She saw now misery, poverty, crime, filth, passion, blindness, suffering and death alongside of art and a glorious creation and she had found that sin had marred every beautiful thing and that Jesus came to handle the sin question through the shame of the cross and the victory over death. She saw a new world, a new race, created anew in Him. She saw Him another Adam at the head of a new race. She saw He was life and could give that life to others, to all others who would believe. Her soul was awake and open. Sin had been dealt with in her life and Jesus was her Savior and Lord. Her soul had been washed and she was free and new and righteous in Him. To her now no music was like the music of His name, and no joys of creation like this new creation in His righteousness. Conscience and the Soul had found peace and order and cleansing from sin. What a revelation! Mary could sing:
“Thou dear Redeemer dying Lamb,
I love to hear of Thee;
No music like Thy charming name
Nor half so sweet can be.
Oh! let me ever hear Thy voice
In mercy to me speak;
In Thee my Priest will I rejoice
And They salvation take.
My Jesus shall be still my theme,
While in this world I stay;
I’ll sing my Jesus’ lovely name
When all things else decay.”
The Risen Life
Lazarus is living a life direct from the revelation of Jesus as life. He had died. He was alive because Jesus was life. This death and coming back to a new life gave all the glory to Jesus. He was the very life of Lazarus. Death had separated him unto Jesus. He is a type of the soul that has come to the crisis of his Christian life where he sees that Jesus is his life, his victory, his wisdom, his righteousness, his sanctification and his redemption. He identifies self with Christ’s death on the cross, counts self dead and stinking as Lazarus was. Then the Christian says of his own free will a farewell to self. Reckons it dead through the dying of Christ and arises in Christ, to live in Him, and by Him and for Him. It is at such a crisis and because of such a reckoning of faith and a consenting to turn over self to His death, that the Holy Spirit can come in His fullness to work out in you all that Christ worked out for you on the cross. Here is the Scripture for your reckoning: “For He that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He lieveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:7–11).
No Leaning Peace
Lazarus had no place to lean but on Jesus. Someone could have said: “Martha is a good cook, Lazarus; you’d better keep in with her and do all she tells you to do or you’ll be sorry.” Lazarus could reply: “Sure she’s a good cook, but her cooking could not save me. Jesus raised me. I’ll eat, but I’ll eat to His glory, not Martha’s.” They could have said: “Be careful, Lazarus; don’t talk too much about this raised life. Mary and Martha might not exactly understand it and the friends might think you strange.” “Bless your dear soul,” Lazarus could have said, “I am strange, awfully strange, wonderfully strange. He gave me victory over the old Lazarus that was sick and died and stunk. Strange? Say, this new living the life that only Jesus can give can’t be held under cover. I know it’s shocking to Martha, because she expects to live from the way she puts herself up, just like preserves. So much of this and that, stirred and then canned up for eternity. No, I’m walking with His life, not mine, for I was sick and dead. This that you see is His work. I’m not ashamed of it. Mary may think I go a little too far, and wonders why I just rejoice all the time. But, say, when you know that it’s just Jesus only the very dust, the trees and rocks have voices for you and cry out, ‘He made us, too!’ Say, don’t try to get me back into my old self again. I’m in Him. I know Him. It’s not what He has done alone, but oh! it is the fact that He is my life. I’ve found Him to be my very life.”
Lazarus preached a sermon every time he walked down the street from the text, “For to me, to live is Christ.”
He knew for a certainty that what Jesus said was true, “My sheep hear My voice.” Lazarus heard it and came forth from the old life as you may come from the old self life at His command. Oh! just now let faith mount up and “reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Perfect love casteth out all fear.” That motto verse was hung across Lazarus’ face before all who looked at him. Some group might have visited him and said: “Now, Lazarus, we love you and we think you are taking your life in your hands if you go up to a great Jewish feast. They hate the one that raised you and your testimony among them will only raise the devil in them and cause a great argument. Now, let’s consider peace, dear Lazarus, and you stay home and let folks come to see you in the natural course of events.”
“Stop!” Lazarus would shout. “Do you fellows suppose you can scare me or that mob of Jews can get me to run or to shut my mouth? No, men, you forget that death has no sting. I’ve been there and back again. Out of my way! I go to tell them of Jesus the life.”
There is something in the boldness and assurance of a sanctified person that lets you know they are the limited express and are running on the main track and intend to go right through on schedule time. The world knows the whistle and can tell away ahead of some events just what course they will take. They know they are not stopping at all the world’s sidetracks, nor stopping at the water tanks, but take refreshing waters from the middle of the track on the go.
An unsanctified man or woman is always leaning somewhere else than on Jesus alone, and this is why an unsanctified preacher cannot get people straightened out and fed with corn. He has his own leaning places and reservations and excuses for lack of victory. He never wants to take the Bible whole, because if he does it will be a knife to give self an awful stab. He doesn’t want to believe in Christ’s bodily return, because that leaves no sop to the flesh, to shout over a redeemed world and say: “We did it.” His hope is still a little in men and institutions and methods. Look at the rich men of our day as they give. Their leaning is to the flesh. Show them a great building, dishes rattling, elevators running, classes in this, classes in that, and an organization for uplift just humming. They will throw in heavy gifts, even to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. How many saved souls come as a result of all this hum? They don’t know. Those who do know won’t say, because they don’t want you to boild it down to its real value from the standpoint of the thing Christ came to do, namely: make Christ-filled men out of dead ones. I can show you little missions where many souls have found the light and life, struggling away and only a bare living coming in. Here’s a chance to get in behind something that is doing business as Christ ordered it done. Here is a chance for real investment for Jesus. But no, the flesh calls too loudly. They can’t give anything big there. They are leaners. It would be too much to invest on giving men eternal life. This natural life is closer, they think.
The World’s Method
“No, Lazarus,” they would say, “you’re not practical enough. We’ll go and have Martha to give the girls lessons in bread making, and bed making and build a big institution for girls to become good cooks and housekeepers.” All of which is fine and should be done if you are not substituting it for salvation and being born again from above. But that is just what is behind all our modern mad rush to social service. Men did not want to stand by the old gospel, but wanted to push something that would win the approval and get the money of the philanthropic and the man of the world. “Make this world heaven,” we could almost call their motto. But you had just as well try to make this world heaven without the salvation of Jesus Christ as to try to raise Lazarus when he was stinking. Jesus and Jesus only can do that business, my dear brother, and you’d better come on into the risen life where Lazarus lived and make Jesus your whole song and story.
Not the methods of men, but the voice of Jesus can make men walk in newness of life as Lazarus walked. Oh! God, give us more men and women whose very presence among us is a testimony of Jesus only. Let the Spirit cut you free this day from your leaning places and your confidence in the flesh and the things of the flesh, and put your soul’s center in Jesus only; risen, seated and coming.
You will know the powers of another world when you see that He is your very life. You will see that you live in an enemy’s country and yet you will see that you do not wrestle against the world laws of regularity, economy, competition and laws, laws, laws; but you enter into God’s grace, which is heaven’s law of gravitation holding you to and revolving you around Jesus only. You are not drawing from the world, you are drawing on Him. Jesus put the books of Grace into Lazarus’ heart that day when He said: “Come forth,” and Lazarus, from that hour, had Jesus only as His center. Eve was taken out of Adam and she could look up at him smiling and say: “You are my father, you are my mother, my sisters and my brothers, my grandparents, my uncles and my aunts.” Yes, Adam was her all. So Lazarus could say the same of Jesus. He died to old things. They all said good-bye. He belonged truly to Jesus and Jesus only.
Lazarus could sing this hymn. Could you?
“My God, my Portion, and my Love,
My everlasting all,
I’ve none but Thee in heaven above
Or on this earthly ball.
What empty things are all the skies
And this inferior clod;
There’s nothing here deserves my joys,
There’s nothing like my God.
To thee I owe my wealth and friends
And health and safe abode.
Thanks to Thy name for meaner things;
But they are not my God.
Surely Lazarus walked on holy ground. He knew, of course, that they gazed at him, that he was considered peculiar. Oh! this is the part from which so many draw back in this wonderful life of full salvation and abiding. They can’t stand the remarks of those who lean toward the world. Pride is so much alive. But God wants a peculiar people in this sense of being the gazing stock of men. It’s His best advertisement. God has called us to abide in the vine and to bear fruit: the fruit that will show Him to the world. God’s highest revelation is not in creation, nor in conscience, but in His Son, and then His Son in us. And at last “we shall be like Him.” He will save all who trust in Him, but it is only the small crowd today that want His Son to be revealed in them; who are willing to be the showcase, where Jesus can reveal His character and His will. If we decide to let Him show, it is goodbye self, and praise God no man has fathomed yet the wonders that Jesus can display in an empty showcase. Oh! let us say a big yes today to all His will. Blessed, blessed Son of God, we give Thee right of way.
Banishment will be glory if Thou art there. The world’s scoff will be but music to our ears if it is for Thee. Peculiar? Yes, that is a peculiar life in this world, where the first law of life is self-preservation. But the one who has found the risen life knows what Jesus meant when He said, “He that loseth his life for My sake shall keep it unto life eternal.”
Oh! get an experience. Let go and let God. Then yon can sing with Madam Guyon as Wm. Cooper translates it:
“My Lord, how full of sweet content,
I pass my years of banishment!
Where’er I dwell, I dwell with Thee,
In heaven, in earth, or on the sea.
To me remains nor place, nor time,
My country is in every clime:
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.
While place we seek or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness in none;
But with a God to guide our way,
‘Tis equal joy to go or stay.
Could I be cast where Thou art not,
That were indeed a dreadful lot;
But regions none remote I call
Secure of finding God in all.”
Are you making a living or are you taking a living already made in Him for you? “I take. He undertakes.” Amen.