The Eternal Reward of Labor (continued)
On the other side, we may know all the terms, all the phraseology, all the doctrines, all the truth, and it may be just objective, something we have heard; we have lived in the midst of it, it is familiar to us. But what the Lord will do if that is to become ours is to take us into travail over the matter. He will relate that thing to our hearts in a deep, inward way, so that none of us will be able to say, 'I know all about that, I have heard all about that, I could tell you all that you could tell me about that.' The Lord would so work in a costly, deep and painful way in relation to that, to make it ours through travail, that we are brought into a new position. We are not spectators, looking on, criticizing; we are on the inside, looking out, defending. We are jealous over it. Suffering is a great purifying thing. It destroys selfishness. It destroys that self-interest that is the cause of so much of the trouble. It makes us in a disinterested way jealous for what is of God. Yes, suffering purifies, and suffering makes this deep, inward link.
It gives an extra feature to things. That extra feature where we cannot just be occupied with faults and be people of a criticizing attitude, the extra feature with a love which covers a multitude of sins. We have suffered together. When we suffer together, what a lot we get over! We have gone through it together, perhaps through the years. We have been in the fire together, and there is a love, there is a jealousy which, let people say what they will about the other persons, simply rises up in us because we have suffered.
Joint-heirs With Christ Through Suffering
"Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him" (Romans 8:17). This is not just an official thing, something that is a gratuitous gift in a mechanical way, as much as to say, 'Well, you have done a bit of work; here are your wages.' That thing has been wrought in us through the suffering and the cost and the warfare and the labor, and there is this sense of an inward co-heirship with Christ, if we suffer. It will be a very blessed thing, to us who know how much we are dependent upon the grace of God, how little we can even bear without the support of His grace; it will be a wonderful thing when at last He says, 'This is the reward of your suffering.' We shall say, 'Well after all, it was our light affliction - in the light of the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. How have we earned this? But there will be some gratification in recognizing that the Lord has taken account of what we have gone through, and has brought us into a sense of His own gratification, and given us to feel - 'Well, it was not in vain, it was not for nought.'
Why did I read those passages in the Old Testament from Numbers and Joshua? They both have to do with inheritance. I read them for this reason, that here were people who, in the first place, were concerned, were jealous, for the inheritance. And then they were people who were prepared to enter into the cost of the inheritance, after which, when they had got it, it was theirs. Yes, it was the Lord's, but it was theirs. Do you see what I mean? It is theirs. And many of us have gone through years in toil, in suffering, in labor and warfare in the Lord's interests, and if there is anything that comes out of that at all, it is ours, in this sense - that we are jealous over it with a right kind of jealousy. It belongs to us in the Lord. Yes, it is the Lord's but it belongs to us in the Lord, the fruit of suffering and of travail and of cost. Your faithfulness in prayer, and in prayer-gatherings - it is not without cost that you continue like that. Your faithfulness in the upholding of those who go out - it costs. Taking the years over, it is not without price if there is anything. The Lord has given it to you as your inheritance; that is yours. All that eternal spiritual value is yours in Christ. Now look after it, cherish it, watch jealously over it, and from all attacks defend it. If only we had this inward sense of relatedness to everything that costs, what a difference it would make, how less ready we should be to see the defects and the faults!
(continued with # 43)