By J.R. Miller
"Casting all your cares upon Him; for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7
Some people seem to miss altogether--the thought of bringing Christ into their common, everyday life. When a Christian young man was talking about what calling he would choose, expressing much uncertainty and perplexity on the subject, he was asked if he had prayed about it. He was astonished and said he could not think of troubling the Lord with such a matter as that. There are many good people who have the same thought. They suppose that God is interested only in their spiritual affairs--and not in their secular matters.
But that is not the true thought of "God's care" for us. He is interested in everything that concerns us. There is nothing in all the range of our life, which we may not bring to him. There are none of our affairs in which religion does not have its place. We may make the most common things of business, as beautiful and as holy as a prayer.
There is a story of an artist in the olden days, who was falsely charged with crime and cast into prison. He was allowed to have his paints and brushes--but no canvas or paper, nothing on which he might paint. One day a man came to the artist's cell-door and said to him, "I wish you would paint a picture for me." "I would," replied the artist, "if I had anything on which to paint it." The visitor looked about him, and on the floor of the prison corridor he found an old soiled napkin. "Paint it on this," he said, as he passed the napkin into the cell. The artist began at once, and continued his work until the picture was finished. It was a picture of the Christ, a marvelously beautiful one, which afterward found a place in one of the old cathedrals. Thus the soiled common napkin, was redeemed from destruction and dishonor, and consecrated to highest honor and sacredness.
There is nothing in all our life, however lowly and commonplace, however mundane and secular, on which we may not put the name of Christ, something of the beauty of Christ. There are not two separate categories in life--one spiritual; and the other secular--with which religion has nothing to do. The Sabbath is meant to bring us more consciously into the divine presence than the other days, that we may worship God, look into his face, and get fresh cheer and strength; but we are in God's presence as really on Monday and Tuesday as on Sunday, and we should do the work of the week just as religiously as we do our praying and Bible reading. Our business should be as devout as our worship.
"Whatever you do, in word or in deed--do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." To do things in the name of Christ means, for one thing, to do them in Christ's way. The commandments are for week-day life--we are to obey them always. They are as binding when we are buying and selling, when we are at our daily task-work, when we in recreation--as when we are engaged in some specifically religious duty. There is no true success, which is not found in the way of obedience to the divine law. To disregard the commandments in anything--is to write anathema over it. Some men, indeed, seem to ignore God's law and to climb up some other way, scaling even to giddy heights. They make a great show of prosperity--but it is an empty show, which lasts, at the longest, only through the earthly life and then vanishes, falls to nothing. Those who take God's way are the only ones who really attain success. God's people are those who do God's will in life's common days.
Sometimes people think that it is utterly impossible for them to live a saintly life where their lot is cast. They say it is easy for the minister to be a holy man, for he is engaged all the time in sacred duties. Or they think of some deaconess or of a woman set apart in a peculiar devotement of some kind to Christian work, and say that it is easy for her to be godly and to keep always near to Christ. But with themselves it is altogether different. Their time must all be spent in secular work, at some trade or in household tasks. They think that if they were employed all the time in religious duties--that it would be easy for them to be saintly too.
But we may do the most common, mundane things in the name of Christ, and this brings the lowliest occupation as near to Christ as that of the minister or the deaconess. Jesus was just as holy in his life and lived just as near to God the first thirty years when he was a carpenter--as the last three years when he was engaged in the great work of his Messiahship. We may live as saintly lives in the lowliest trade or calling--as in the most sacred of callings.
Doing anything in the name of Christ--is also doing it for him. We are acting for him, and it is the same as if he himself had done it!
How holy our lives there would be--if we always remembered that we are here thus in Christ's name, to do what Jesus would do--if He were where we are, doing the things that are set for us to do! What a splendor there would be in even the lowliest tasks, if we consciously lived in this way! How dull, commonplace duties would be transformed! How glad we would be to do the most lowly things! How well we would do everything! There would be no skimping of our work, no slighting of it, no half-doing of it. No duty would seem unworthy of us, too small or too menial for us.
If only we could always keep in mind that we are working in the name of Christ, we would never find any task irksome nor any duty hard--all life would be changed for us.
If we know this Name, it is the key to all that is beautiful, true, and eternal. No burden would seem heavy--if we bore it in Christ's name and for him. No cross would be too hard to carry--if this Name were written on it. No work would seem hard--if we were doing it consciously for our Master. If we remembered him, and saw his eyes of love looking down upon us continually, we could not let the hateful mood stay in our hearts; we could not do the mean or wicked thing; we could not say the bitter, cutting word; we could not, by our wretched jealousy, hurt the gentle heart that never had given us anything but love.
This name of Christ tests all life for us. Anything over which we cannot write this blessed name--is unfit for us to do. What we cannot do in this name--we ought not to do at all. The friendship on which we cannot put "in the name of Jesus" is not a friendship we should take into our life. The business we cannot conduct in Christ's name--we would better not try to conduct at all. The gate over which this Name is not carved--we should not enter.