Reading #63 – Spiritual Work – Part 1

I feel now is an appropriate time for me to start rereading this portion of Watchman Nee’s The Spiritual Man. I will post in parts so that those who wish to read are not overwhelmed.


Spiritual Work

The Spiritual Man, CFP, Vol. 2, Part 4 THE SPIRIT, Ch. 3, by Watchman Nee 

AS A BELIEVER GOES on his spiritual way he gradually begins to realize that to live for himself is a sin, yea, the greatest sin of his life. To live for himself is as it were a grain of wheat which having fallen into the earth refuses to die and hence remains alone. To seek the filling of the Holy Spirit in order to be a powerful spiritual person is solely to please himself, to make himself happy. For were he to live purely for God and His work this believer would not consider his personal happiness or feeling. He certainly would understand the meaning of spirituality. But in the depth of his heart lodges instead a soul’s self-love.

All God’s children are God’s servants. Each of them receives some gift from the Lord: none is excepted (Matt 25.15). God places them in His church and apportions to each a ministry to fulfill. God’s objective is not to make the believer’s spirit a reservoir of spiritual life which withers after a little while: if God’s life becomes stagnant in him he begins to feel parched. No, spiritual life is for spiritual work; spiritual work expresses spiritual life. The secret of that kind of living lies in the incessant flowing of that life to others.

Spiritual food of a believer is nothing more nor less than accomplishing God’s work (John 4.34). The kingdom of God suffers greatly at the hands of “spiritual believers” who busy themselves with prayer and Bible study and attend only to their spiritual need. The Lord’s people should simply trust God for the sustenance of both their physical and spiritual needs. If they are willing to endure hunger in order to accomplish what God wants them to do, they shall be satisfied. Spiritual food is simply to do His will. Preoccupation with one’s own supply causes lack, whereas concern with God’s kingdom brings satisfaction. He who is occupied with the Father’s business and not with his own shall find himself perpetually full.

The child of God should not be overanxious to make new gains; what he essentially requires is to keep what he already has, for not losing is itself a gain. The way to retain what he possesses is to engage it. Burying it beneath the earth is a sure way to lose it. When a believer allows the life in his spirit to flow freely, he not only shall gain others but shall gain himself as well. One gains by losing self for others and not by hoarding for oneself. The life within a spiritual man must be released by performing spiritual labor. If one’s inner being is always open and free (it must of course be closed to the enemy), the life of God shall flow out from him to the salvation and edification of many. The moment spiritual exertion ceases, at that precise moment spiritual life is blocked. These two are inseparable.

No matter what earthly occupation the believer may have, he is apportioned a measure of work by God as well. One who is spiritual knows his place in the body of Christ; as a consequence he also knows the limits of his work. Each member has his usefulness; his work lies in discharging that usefulness. Some gifts are dispensed to benefit particular members; while others, the whole body. A Christian ought to recognize the limits of his gift and to labor within those bounds. But many fail. They either withdraw from their work and thus stifle the development of their spiritual life, or they overextend themselves to their harm. Misusing hands and feet damages a person just as much as not using his hands and feet at all. One sure means of losing life, as we have seen, is to try to keep spiritual life to oneself; yet to work indiscriminately can equally impede life.

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