The Character of God's Workman

Watchman Nee

2. Must Love All Mankind

One

Those who work the work of the Lord must not only love the brethren but also love all mankind. "Whoever mocks the poor," said Solomon, "reproaches his Maker" (Prov. 17:5a). All men are created by God; therefore all are to be loved. If a worker does not have sufficient love for the brethren, or if he has the love of the brethren but no love for mankind in general, he is not qualified to serve God. For loving men or showing love to men is an essential quality to have in God's service. All who view people with annoyance and despise them are definitely unfit to be the Lord's servants.

We ought to see that though all men have fallen, they are nonetheless the object of the redemption of our Lord Jesus inasmuch as they were all created by God. In spite of their hardness of heart, the Holy Spirit still convicts them. The Lord Jesus came to this earth; He came to be a man. Like the rest of mankind, He grew up gradually from birth to maturity. For God intends to set up on earth a Model Man, a Representative Man - one upon whom rests all the purposes of God. After the ascension of the Lord Jesus, the church came into being, and yet the church is but the formation of a new man. The whole plan of redemption is to exalt and glorify men.

One day when we come to a deeper understanding of the word of God, we shall find the term "man" more palatable than even the term "children of God." For we shall realize that God's preordained plan and election is to obtain a glorious man. As we gradually perceive the place of man in God's plan as constituting the focus of His counsel, and when we truly see God humbling Himself to be a man, we shall be impressed with the preciousness of man. While our Lord Jesus was on earth He declared that "the Son of man also came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for man" (Mk. 10:45). The word the Lord says here is so plain; the Son of man comes to serve men. The Son of God becomes the Son of man on earth in order to serve men. Thus are we shown the attitude of the Lord Jesus towards mankind.

Many who work for God have a serious deficiency, which is, that they are totally lacking in the love of humanity. They lack the proper respect towards men, and they lack as well a knowledge of the value of man in God's sight. Today we feel elated because we seem to have learned a little love for the brethren. Formerly, we loved no one; now, we can show our love towards the brethren by doing something for them. No wonder we are high-spirited. Yet this is far from sufficient. We need to be so enlarged by God that we come to see that all people are to be loved and valued. Whether or not you are successful in your future work for God depends chiefly on your attitude towards the value of man. The depth of your work is to be measured by your interest and feeling towards men. By this we do not mean your interest in one or two clever or special persons. We simply mean your interest in "man" per se. This is a very significant issue.

The primary sense of Jesus' phrase "the Son of man came" lies in the Lord's tremendous interest in man - so much so as to become a man Himself. Such is His interest in man; but how about you? Many people do not meet your eyes; many people do not arouse your sympathetic feeling. Let us inquire, however, what the Lord's attitude towards them is. He asserts that "the Son of man came." Which means that He takes the place of a son of man among men. He is interested in man, He feels for man, and He values man. His interest in people is so great that He verily stands on the human level in serving mankind. How strange that many brothers and sisters have no interest in man. Should this not arouse our righteous anger? Let us ask ourselves if we really understood what this word "The Son of man came" truly signifies. As we are in the presence of God we ought to see that this word of our Lord Jesus reveals His enormous interest in man. How can we ever think or say that we have no interest in the people we are with? Such an attitude is really preposterous.

Hence in the life of a workman of God there is another basic element in his character formation, which is, that he has an interest in all people. This, however, is not to suggest that he can choose whom among men he will be interested in-that he will only consider a particular person or persons whom he deems as interesting and lovable. No, he must be interested in man per se. For let us observe the characteristic of the Lord Jesus, that He had a keen interest in all of mankind. There was such a love in Him towards all of humanity that He could say, "the son of Man came." Suppose we go to a certain place to work for God. If we can say that we come to that place not to be served by the people there but to serve them, then our attitude is proper, our way is correct and our position is right. We shall be like Jesus, the Son of Man.

We should always have in mind that as the servants of God we must not withhold our love in a place until some Christian brethren arrive on the scene. All who hold this misconception - namely, that their love is to be reserved for the brethren only - are unable to do the work of God. Let it be known and unequivocally declared that the love of the brethren comes afterwards, and that it is a totally different proposition. You need to have a love for the generality of mankind and a compassion towards them. For Jn. 3:16 makes plain that "God so loved the world." What is "the world" here? It refers to all the people in the world, including the unsaved and ignorant. Those whom God loves are the people of the entire world. He loves every one on the earth. If you are not interested in a person whom God loves, and furthermore, if you will love him only after he becomes a Christian brother, your disposition is quite different from the Lord's; and therefore, you cannot serve God. Your heart will need to be expanded to such a degree that you feel that all people are to be loved. As long as this one or that one is a person, you love him. And only then shall you be qualified to serve God.

Two

"The Son of Man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." So continued the Lord Jesus. In other words, the attitude of our Lord here is always that of seeking absolutely nothing from man. We should be interested in all men and love them, but we also should not have any thought of taking advantage of them or seeking their service. We should not do anything that would embarrass or defraud them, nor should we look to be ministered to.

Perhaps you have reached the stage after many years of education wherein you are able to use the term, "my fellow-men." Yet this term is not meant to be merely a vocal expression; it is meant to signify a sort of feeling. For instance, you have many who are your "fellow-believers." You are aware that they are your brothers and sisters in Christ, and you have a sense of brotherhood towards them. But let us go a step further. Since you live among so many people, do you also ever have a sense of "fellow-men"? How can you serve the Lord if you do not have such an awareness? All who serve God are "big" souls - that is to say, their souls are so big that they embrace all men in their heart. Just here, however, lies a great problem: many of God's workmen lack this basic love for people. If the love of the brethren is so weak among us, how can we talk about the love of men? We will probably select one person out of a hundred-or even out of ten thousand-to love! This proves that we do not have the love of humanity in our hearts.

We ought to remember that all human beings including ourselves are created by God to be fellow-men. Our hearts should therefore be expanded to love all the people whom God has created to be our fellow-men. And this means that we must not defraud them, nor take any advantage of them, nor even look for their service: " For the Son of Man also came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister. " as Christians who live on earth, we should account it shameful to defraud a fellow-man. It is not only wrong to defraud a italics brother italics, it is also wrong to defraud italics man italics-period! Look at the attitude of our Lord Jesus towards mankind. Negatively, He seeks not to be ministered to; He does not entertain even the slightest idea of getting something from man. We, too, must have the same mind continually, that we will not do anything to selfishly gain people's service or support at their expense.

By the command of the Lord, God's children should not take advantage of other people. For the sake of being fellow-men, we must not seek any gain from them. We ought to see before the Lord that all men everywhere are to be loved. And hence, if perchance you have no interest in humanity, then whatever you do before God is going to be very, very limited. For He expects His servants to be of enlarged capacity, to be those who are interested in all mankind. And they shall thus receive grace to serve God.

Three

"The Son of Man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mk. 10:45). "The Son of Man came to seek that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10). "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (Jn. 10:10b). Jesus came for all men. He came to minister and to give His life as a ransom for many. This indicates that the purpose of His coming is to serve the world. Of that service, the world of men have a special need which requires His giving His life as a ransom. And accordingly, the Lord Jesus gave His life. In His being a ransom for many, He fulfills the highest and ultimate path of service. To quote Him accurately, we must see that the Lord Jesus did not say "The Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for many"; He instead said, "The Son of Man came...to minister." His aim is serving humanity. For He has an interest in all people; He sees them as those He would love and also serve. He serves to meet the fundamental need of man - the need of a Savior; so He gives His life to be a ransom for many. We are not qualified to do the Lord's work if we merely preach the gospel of His redemption and yet lack the heart to serve the world.

Man is to be loved, hence the Lord comes to serve as the Son of man, not as the Son of God. He first serves, first loves, then gives His life for many. First love, then sacrifice. When you go among people, you cannot preach the sacrifice of the Lord if you do not have love. Do not think that before you can love a person you are to preach to him until that person becomes a brother. Not so. Unless you can appreciate the fact that all human beings are created by God, you really are not in the right spirit to preach sacrificial love to them. We must first love men before we can lead them to accept the Lord. We should never wait until they have accepted Christ and become brothers and sisters before we begin to love them.

It is a matter of deep regret that many today possess this defect and have this problem. they usually keep back their love until people become their brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Lord, however, was not that way on earth. He first loved men by serving them, and then He laid down His life for them. All who preach the good news of redemption must likewise first love men and then proclaim the gospel to them. Our Lord indeed served and dispensed grace to men first before He ever died for them. May we, too, be interested in all people and sense their preciousness; may we, too, show grace to them before we ever present the redemption work of the Lord to them.

If our heart is opened by God to see that we are fellow-men, our attitude towards all mankind will be completely changed. We shall feel the preciousness and lovableness of all people. Let me clearly state that it is absolutely essential for you to see the dearness of man in the eyes of God because men is created by Him according to His image. In God's heart all human beings today remain as those who are originally created in His image. And consequently, you must be a person who loves all people before you can go into their midst and serve them with the gospel. Let us see the lovableness and value of human beings before God.

Many brothers and sisters who are engaged in the Lord's work have a wrong attitude towards humanity. They consider the people whom they contact to be a nuisance, a drudgery, a burden or an entanglement. This is a terrible mistake. Let us learn to see before the Lord that man is created by God. Though he indeed be fallen, he nevertheless retains traces of the image of God, and he still has the hope of a glorious future through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In seeing this, we shall then sense that man is to be loved. We shall no longer treat people as an entanglement, a drudgery or a nuisance. Since our Lord has gone to the cross for them, can we love them any the less? One who is really touched by the Lord and who truly understands why He came to this world can readily perceive that human beings are to be loved. It will be impossible for such a person not to love mankind.

Man is to be loved. All his sins can be forgiven; all his weaknesses may be forborne; and all his carnalities can be foreseen. Because we too are sinners, we can therefore understand the tragic story of man. On the other hand, we also know the value of man. Let us not imagine that the Lord Jesus came to die because of the great number of people in the world. For He Himself has explained that the shepherd goes out to seek the one lost sheep (see Lk. 15:3-7). He did not come to seek because ninety-nine sheep had gone astray. To the good shepherd, one italics lost sheep is sufficient reason for him to come and to seek. In other words, even if but one person out of the whole world's people is perishing, He is ready to come down from heaven to earth.

Now as a fact of history, He has indeed saved a countless multitude; but so far as the love in His heart is concerned, He seems to come just for that one person, that one lost sheep. The Holy Spirit is as the woman who, told of in Luke 15, sweeps the house and searches diligently for the one lost piece of silver until it be found. He does not wait until, like the woman, all ten pieces are lost before He begins to search for that one lost soul. In the parable of the prodigal, also in Luke 15, the father (representing the Father God) welcomes the one prodigal son who returns. Yet he does not wait until all his sons become prodigals and only then will he welcome them back. No, he welcomes the coming home of even one prodigal son. And so with the heavenly Father too. Hence the Lord Jesus shows us in His spoken parables of Luke 15 that He will do the work of redemption to meet the need, if necessary, of but one single person. He will not wait until the many have needs. All this would indicate how interested is our Lord towards the human race.

Therefore, in order to serve the Lord well, you must learn to be interested in people. Without such an interest, you can do little. For even if you do serve, what is done will be very limited inasmuch as your heart is too small in capacity to embrace so many people. Not until your interest in humanity grows and your heart is increasingly enlarged and you understand the meaning of redemption and appreciate the value of man in God's economy. Without this enlargement it is totally unthinkable that such narrow-minded persons as we are can contemplate so great a work. How can we save souls if we do not love them?!? It is impossible to save souls without loving them first. Only when this basic problem is solved can many other problems concerning human beings be resolved. No human lack of knowledge should hinder your love; no hardness of heart should block your love. With love in your heart that has been enlarged, you will not despise anyone; and as a consequence, you shall be brought by God to stand together with your fellow-men.

When some brothers and sisters from urban areas go to the rural villages to serve, they unconsciously take with them a superiority complex towards the farmer. Such an attitude is despicable. Our Lord has not said, "The Son of God came"; He said, "the Son of man came" (see again Mk. 10:45). In order to preach the gospel, one must become a son of man.

Unfortunately, it often happens that when a worker goes to a certain place, he has the feeling of condescending himself. Humbling oneself is a must, but to harbor in one's heart the notion that his very coming among men is itself a humble act is thinking that is totally unacceptable. If you should have a feeling of condescension when among people of less intelligence or of a lower economic or social standing, your humility will not be natural but artificial. From the human viewpoint, while our Lord was on earth He was seen to be a son of Mary; His brothers were James, Joses, Judas, and Simon; He was known only as the son of man. You, too, must be known simply as a human being. When you go into the midst of people, do not display among them an air of superiority. If so, your attitude is totally wrong. A Christian should never do this. You ought to be as one of them, without ever creating the feeling in them of your condescension. Otherwise, you will not be able to serve them.

We may serve only as "man" to "men." We must never give people a reason to sense that we are trying to condescend ourselves as if we are an altogether different and higher kind of creature. If we do create such a sense in them about ourselves, we are disqualified to be servants of God. In order to serve the Lord, we must truly humble ourselves to the lowest place. In talking with people who are less intelligent or lower on the economic or social scale, we will not be their fellow-men if we position ourselves on a different level than they and give people a different impression.

Unless we humble ourselves to the lowest point, we cannot serve God. We must be so humble that we never harbor any superiority consciousness. No brother or sister may despise a person disadvantaged in terms of education, economic level or social class. In God's creation, redemption and plan, this latter person has the same destiny as anyone else. Only in one thing may we be different, and that is, that, unlike the unbeliever, we know the Lord. Oh, do let us see that many of our attitudes may be wrong. Our whole being, whether in our attitudes, feelings or thoughts, needs to be transformed. We must come to realize that all people are equal before God. For if our Lord could come humble to this earth for them all, can we not also humble ourselves for them? Never make any distinction because of intelligence or any other human factor.

Some may ask, we indeed must not look down upon a less fortunate individual; but suppose we encounter a person who is deceitful, sinful or corrupted - what should be our attitude towards him? The answer is quite simple: you should recall your own days before your salvation. Were you better than that person? If the grace of the Lord should be removed from you, would you be any stronger or purer than he? Who makes you holier? If you were to look at yourself apart from grace, you would not find any difference between yourself and that particular soul. Apart from what grace has done to make you different, you are no different from him at all. You can only bow your head and say, "I am a sinner even as he." Grace must cause you to lie in the dust and pray, "Lord, it is You who have saved me!" Grace will never persuade you to lift up yourself. Quite the contrary, grace will enable you to see that you are the same as those deceitful, sinful and corrupted people. What really makes you different is the grace of God, not you yourself. What ever can you boast of, since all you have has been received from God? And if your distinction comes indeed from grace, then you cannot in any way exalt yourself in such grace. Let us praise and offer thanks for the grace of God more; let us not elevate ourselves. In the presence of the Lord, we need to realize that we are just the same as they are; and therefore, we must love them. Though their sins be hateful, nevertheless their person deserves love. And thus shall we cultivate having a large enough heart to lead them to the Lord.


Four

Let us be reminded once again that all who would be used by God must possess certain qualities which are usable to Him. All who may be used of the Lord are interested in people, deeply interested in them. If a worker were to have a larger and warmer heart and to show greater interest in people, his ministry would be greatly increased. How can we go forth to preach the gospel if we are so cold towards humanity and have no interest in them at all? We may indeed go forth to deal with them to save and to win them. Yet what can we do if we have no interest in them? Why do we even go if we have no interest in them? Why do we even go if we consider them to be a nuisance and offensive? If no physician is afraid of seeing patients and if no teacher is fearful of meeting students, then is it not odd if we who preach the gospel are fearful of man!?! Hence all who wish to do the work of the Lord must be interested in all people.

Let us see that you and I are not forced to go forth; we ourselves are to be motivated to contact people by our interest in them. We are to go not because we are persuaded to communicate with people, but because we sense the lovableness and preciousness of man in our heart. We need to realize that all these vast multitudes of people around us are created by God. They are loved and desired by Him. He gave His only begotten Son to them with the hope that they might believe in Him and thus receive life. We differ from them on one point only, and that is, we have believed. Yet we should lead them also to believe. And this we must do by exhibiting the greatest interest in and love for them. And then shall we have this unending task of serving them. By the mercy of God, we will become useful workmen in His hand.

If anyone wishes to serve God well, this path of which we have been speaking must be straight. Let us never forget that every person has a spirit. In this respect, all are equal before God. We therefore ought to love every soul we meet, and we must therefore desire to serve each and every one. Then, when we walk along the street and meet a person, we will sense and view things quite differently.

Now as a person is enlightened by God to see that his Christian brother and he are born again of the same Father, he will unquestionably exhibit a special feeling towards that brother. By the same token, we workers need to be enlightened to see that both the people at large and we ourselves have been created by the same God. Under such enlightenment, we will manifest an uncommon interest towards any person we meet. Even as already we have a special feeling towards our brothers and sisters because we are conscious that these are our brethren in Christ, just so, we need also to receive another enlightenment from above that informs us that all these countless people around us are our fellow-men. Each one of them is precious, is to be loved, and is worthy of our unending service.

Now with such enlightenment as this, we shall touch the heart of God, inasmuch as His attention is always towards man. Since all of mankind are created by God, it is our privilege to save some of them and to add them to the Church of God. Although the completing and perfecting of the Church is God's ultimate aim, His work today is to gain people. No one who works for the Lord can afford to despise a single soul. Any contempt for a soul, expressed in attitude or in deed, disqualifies a person from being a servant of God. In order to serve Him well, a person not only must not disdain any soul but he also must learn to be a servant of all souls. let us learn to help all people in various ways; and let us learn to serve willingly and not grudgingly.

Some have the habit of looking down upon those who are supposedly inferior and looking up to those who are supposedly superior. It will be a most shameful thing if such a habit is found among God's servants. We must not exhibit any attitude of contempt towards those whom we consider "inferior." We need to go to God to obtain a revelation of the place and position of all mankind in His sight. We cannot serve the Lord if we fail to have this deficiency solved. We must see the value of man, and so seeing, it will be a great and joyous sight. By perceiving how the Lord came to die for all humanity, we will be characterized by His dying love. We will be able to enter into our Lord's feeling and will sense the loveliness of all men. Only thus shall we show great interest in all of humanity. Otherwise, we are unfit to work for the God who made us all in His very image.




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