Today's Expositor's quote is from Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermon on Matthew 20:1-16, the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. He argues that the first workers struck a bargain with the owner, to make sure they were treated fairly, not trusting him. Lloyd Jones concludes:
Do not keep a record or an account of your work. Give up being book-keepers. In the Christian life we must desire nothing but His glory, nothing but to please Him. So do not keep your eye on the clock, but keep it on Him and His work. Do not keep on recording your work and labour, keep your eye on Him and His glory, on His love and His honour and the extension of His kingdom. . . . Have no concern as to how many hours you have given to the work, nor how much you have done. In effect leave the bookkeeping to Him and to His grace. . . . There is no need to waste time keeping the accounts, He is keeping them. And what wonderful accounts they are. May I say it with reverence, there is nothing I know of that is so romantic as God's method of accountancy. Be prepared for surprises in this Kingdom. . . .
Let me make a personal confession. This kind of thing has often happened to me in my ministry. Sometimes God has been gracious on a Sunday and I have been conscious of exceptional liberty, and I have been foolish enough to listen to the devil when he says, 'Now, then, you wait until next Sunday, it is going to be marvellous, there will be even larger congregations'. And I go into the pulpit the next Sunday and I see a smaller congregation. But then on another occasion I stand in the pulpit labouring, . . . preaching badly and utterly weak, and the devil has come and said: 'There will be nobody there at all next Sunday'. But, thank God, I have found on the following Sunday a larger congregation. . . . You never know. I enter the pulpit in weakness and I end with power. I enter with self-confidence and I am made to feel a fool. It is God's accountancy. . . . He is always giving us surprises. . . .
We should not only recognize that it is all of grace, but rejoice in the fact that it is so. . . . The secret of the happy Christian life is to realize that it is all of grace and to rejoice in that fact. . . . Was not this [Jesus'] own way? . . . He did not look at Himself, He did not consider Himself and His own interests only; He made Himself of no reputation, He laid aside the insignia of His eternal glory. . . . He humbled Himself, He forgot Himself, and He went through and endured and did all He did, looking only to the glory of God. Nothing else mattered to Him but that the Father should be glorified and that men and women should come to the Father. That is the secret. Not watching the clock, not assessing the amount of work, not keeping a record in a book, but forgetting everything except the glory of God, the privilege of being called to work for Him at all, the privilege of being a Christian, remembering only the grace that has ever looked upon us and removed us from darkness to light.
It is grace at the beginning, grace at the end. So that when you and I come to lie upon our deathbeds, the one thing that should comfort and help and strengthen us there is the thing that helped us at the beginning. Not what we have been, not what we have done, but the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. The Christian life starts with grace, and it must continue with grace, it ends with grace. Grace, wondrous grace.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures, (Eerdmans, 1965) p. 130-32.
["How many hours have I worked this week? How much money could I be making in other work? I'm giving up so much to preach the gospel!" May we rebuke ourselves for such thoughts! Praise God, He doesn't give us what we deserve, but instead lavishes us with grace and love and mercy - and persecutions and sorrows. And our Sovereign God weaves all these together for our good and His glory. So rejoice! And praise God for the great privilege of preaching His word! - Coty]
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