But as for you, be strong; do not be discouraged, for your work will be rewarded."
is an obligation as much as an endowment. It may, indeed, be urged that there is -
I. CONSTITUTIONAL WEAKNESS, which is to be borne with rather than to be blamed. Some human spirits are less fully endowed than others; some bring with them sad consequences of their progenitors' sin (Exodus 20:5). It requires tenfold more spiritual courage and exertion on the part of these to be loyal and faithful than on the part of their brethren who are more richly equipped or less heavily weighted. We need to know much before we judge men. Only the Divine Father, who knows us altogether, who knows, therefore, the limitations and the propensities of our nature which we have received from himself or from our ancestors, can say how much we are to be blamed, how much to be pitied. But undoubtedly there is -
II. MORAL WEAKNESS, for which we are responsible, of which we are guilty, "Let not your hands be weak." But how often the hand is weak because the life has been low, and because the heart has been wrong! All vice leads down to weakness. And not vice alone, but all folly; the foolish and blameworthy disregard of the laws of our mind and of our body. Not only excessive indulgence in any one direction (mental or physical), but unregulated and ill-proportioned activity, ends in weakness; so that he who might have been an active and efficient workman in many a good field of usefulness is helpless; his hand hangs down; there is "no strength in his right hand," because there has been no wisdom in his mind.
III. SPIRITUAL STRENGTH, which we are under obligation to acquire. There is much of real, effective strength which it is open to us all to obtain if we will. God is saying to us, "Be ye strong;" and if we do what he gives us the means of doing, we shall be strong. What are the sources of spiritual strength?
1. Christian morality. And this includes
(1) the care of the body - the regulation of its instincts and craving, ministering to its necessities;
(2) the culture of the mind - increasing its knowledge and nourishing its power;
(3) the training of the heart.
2. Sacred service. Our capacity for serving Christ and man depends very largely indeed on our making a continuous effort to serve. "To him that hath is given," i.e. to him that puts out his talent is given another; to him that expends his strength in paths of holy usefulness is given multiplied power to speak and strike for God and truth. Our present strength depends upon our growth in power; and that depends upon the measure of our exercise in the field of sacred work.
3. Divine communication. "Thou answeredst me and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul" (Psalm 138:3); "In Christ who strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).. Strength is one of the "good things" our heavenly Father will give to "them that ask him" (Matthew 7:11). - C.
certain fruit of faithful labours: — Applying these words to the work of Sabbath schools, consider —
Be ye Strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak.I. THAT RESOLUTION IS NECESSARY IN PROMOTING THE CAUSE OF RELIGION. Resolution is the essence of that mental strength which gives energy to all the powers and faculties of body and mind. It is composed of love, zeal, and confidence. Such resolution has always had a principal influence in effecting all the great things which have ever been effected by the men of the world. Necessary in religion. The Scriptures inculcate it (2 Chronicles 19:11; Ezra 10:4). Examples of resolution: Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, John the Baptist, Peter and John, Paul, Luther, Calvin, etc.
II. THAT THE FRIENDS OF GOD HAVE GOOD GROUND FOR SUCH UNSHAKEN RESOLUTION IN PROMOTING SUCH A GREAT AND GOOD DESIGN.
1. The friends of God have often been succeeded in their sincere attempts to promote His glory in the salvation of sinners.
2. The promotion of religion is such a noble and laudable design that it is even glorious to fail in the attempt.
3. Those who espouse the cause of religion have reason to expect the peculiar presence and assistance of God in their pious exertions.
4. They also have the approbation and prayers of all good men.
5. They are equally sure of the esteem and affection of all those whom they shall be instrumental in converting.
6. Their efforts shall finally meet a glorious recompense of reward.
1. That the friends of God have been very negligent in promoting His cause in the world.
2. That none will ever do much to forward the work of spreading the gospel without a large share of Christian zeal and resolution.
(N. Emmons, D.D.)
I. THAT MAN WILL HAVE STRONG HANDS WHO REGULARLY LIFTS THEM UP IN PRAYER. If you lift up your hands in prayer as the apostles did, you shall have strength to do great deeds for God.
II. LET YOUR HANDS BE STRONG IN CLEAVING TO THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
I. THE WORK.
1. Its object is the benefit of the rising generation.
2. Its tendencies as to the interests of society at large are beneficial.
3. It accords with the spirit of Christianity and the predictions of sacred writ (Isaiah 11:9).
II. THE EXHORTATION.
1. To faith.
2. To union.
3. To perseverance.
III. THE REWARD. This is to be found —
1. In the satisfaction of your own minds.
2. In the success of your efforts.
3. In the approbation of your Lord.
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