"Doing the will of God from the heart."
—Eph. vi. 6.
So St. Paul wrote to the Christian slaves of Ephesus and the Asian towns near at hand ; and I know no better epitome of the career to which I am set apart.
Here is the continuous activity of my life. It is a doing. It is doing as distinct from thinking and dreaming and meditating. Not that 1 can dispense with these. I must live in secret, behind all my outward service and diligence. I must have my spaces for prayer, and for the study of the Scriptures, and for deliberate remembrance of the treasures I possess in my Lord. But from the hidden place I should come out to speak and labour ; and each hour should be fruitful, in the family, in the church, in the world. Doing it is, too, as distinguished from embracing God's will and acquiescing in it. At times the Father's will is disclosed to me in the shape of a cross to carry and a sorrow to bear. Then I must not be content to say, " I will lie still." I must ask help to glorify Him under the load and in the fires. Through my very pains I would have His Kingdom furthered.
Here, again, is the heavenly ownership of my life. I do not live to carry out my own will. There is plenty of selfishness in the world, and plenty of self-reliance also, which is a much better thing. But Another has assumed the reins of government over me, and I am bought with a price. Nor do I live to fulfil the will of others. I am their helper and minister and brother, so far as in me lies ; but I do not take my instructions from them, nor is it to them that I render my final account. I live to serve the will of God. What a simplicity His control gives my history !— through all my duties, secular and sacred, runs the golden thread, For His sake. What a glory it gives !—in my narrow place I am a fellow-worker with the Eternal King. And what a spur it gives ! —I must not disappoint Him ; He reckons on my fidelity, and He must receive it.
And here is the deep spring of my life. From the heart, or from the soul, I do God's will. My task is not a friction or a fatigue. It is a matter of willingness and spontaneity and affection. It is " not a sigh but a song." What prompts it ? A heart which has seen God in the face of the Good Shepherd, marred and wounded for my redemption. A heart which has been led from darkness into light and from death into life. A heart that clings daily to the divine power which has made it what it is, feeling and confessing that without its Lord it can do nothing. A heart ardent in its thanksgiving and devotion. For such a heart the will of God, however it may be expressed, is gracious as a friend's greeting and a child's caress.
Yes, happy, happy slave ! Mine be his bonds, his subjection, his Master.