One of the important conditions of growth and strength in the Christian life is work. No man can keep us his physical strength without exercise and no man can keep up his spiritual strength without spiritual exercise, i.e., without working for his Master.
The working Christian is the happy Christian. The working Christian is the strong Christian. Some Christians never backslide because they are too busy about their Master's business to backslide. Many professed Christians do backslide because they are too idle to do anything but backslide.
Jesus said to His first disciples, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men" [Matt. 4:19].
Anyone who is not a fisher of men is not following Christ. Bearing fruit in bringing others to the Saviour is the purpose for which Jesus has chosen us and is one of the most important conditions of power in prayer.
Jesus says in John 15:16, "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should do and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in My name He may give it to you."
These words of Jesus are very plain. They tell us that the one who is bearing fruit is the one who can pray in the name of Christ and get what he asks in that name. In the same chapter Jesus tells us that bearing fruit in His strength is the condition of fullness of joy.
He says, "These things have I spoken unto you [that is, the things about abiding in Him and bearing fruit in His strength] that My joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full" [John 15:11].
Experience abundantly proves the truth of these words of our Master. Those who are full of activity in winning others to Christ are those who are full of joy in Christ Himself.
If you wish to be a happy Christian; if you wish to be a strong Christian, if you wish to be a Christian who is mighty in prayer, begin at once to work for the Master and never let a day pass without doing some definite work for Him.
But how can a young Christian bear fruit? The answer is very simple and very easy to follow. You can bear fruit for your Master by going to others and telling him what your Saviour has done for you, and by urging them to accept this same Saviour and showing them how to do it. There is no other work in the world that is so easy to do, joyous, and so abundant in its fruitfulness, as personal hand to hand work. The youngest Christian can do personal work. Of course, he cannot do it so well as he will do it later, after he has had more practice. But the way to learn how to do it is by doing it.
I have known thousands of Christians all around the world who have begun to work for Christ, and to bring others to Christ, the very day they were converted. How often young men and young women, yes, old men and old women too, have come to me and said, "I accepted Jesus last night as my Saviour, my Lord and my King, and to-night I have led a friend to Christ." When we were in Sheffield, a young man working in a warehouse accepted Christ. Before the month's mission in Sheffield was over he had led thirty others to Christ, many of them in the same warehouse where he himself worked. This is but one instance among many. There are many books that tell how to do personal work [Note: Contagious Christians is a good one.]
But one does not need to wait until they have read come book on the subject before they begin. One of the commonest and greatest mistakes that is made is frittering one's life away in getting ready to get ready to get ready. Some never do get ready. The way to get ready is to begin at once. Make up your mind that you will speak about accepting Christ to at least one person every day.
Early in his Christian life Mr. Moody made this resolution that he would never let a day pass over his head without speaking to at least one person about Christ. One night he was returning late from his work. As he got near home it occurred to him that he had not spoken to anyone that day. He said to himself, "It is too late now. I will not get an opportunity. Here will be one day gone without my speaking to anyone about Christ." But a little ways ahead of him he saw a man standing under a lamp-post. He said, "Here is my opportunity." The man was a stranger to him, though he know who Mr. Moody was. Mr. Moody hurried up to him and asked him, "Are you a Christian?" The man replied, "That is none of your business. If you were not a sort of a preacher I would knock you into the gutter." But Mr. Moody spoke a few faithful words to him and passed on. The next day this man called on one of Mr. Moody's business friends in Chicago in great indignation. He said, "That man Moody of yours over on the Northside is doing more harm that he is good. He has zeal without knowledge. He came up to me last night, a perfect stranger, and asked me if I was a Christian. He insulted me. I told him if he had not been a sort of preacher I would have knocked him into the gutter." Mr. Moody's friend called him in and said to him, "Moody, you are doing more harm than good. You have zeal without knowledge. You insulted a friend of mine on the street last night." Mr. Moody when out somewhat crestfallen, feeling that perhaps he was doing more harm than good, that perhaps he did have zeal without knowledge. But some weeks later, late at night, there was a great pounding on his door. Mr. Moody got out of bed and rushed to the door supposing that the house was on fire. That same man stood at the door. He said, "Mr. Moody, I have not had a night's rest since you spoke to me that night under the lamp-post and I have come around for you to tell me what to do to be saved." Mr. Moody had the joy that night of leading that man to Christ.
It is better to have zeal without knowledge than to have knowledge without zeal, but it is better yet to have zeal with knowledge, and anyone may have this. The way to get knowledge is by experience, and the way to get experience is by doing the work. The man who is so afraid of making blunders that he never does anything, never learns anything. The man who goes ahead and does his best and is willing to risk the blunders, is the man who learns to avoid the blunders in the future.
Some of the most gifted men I have ever known have never really accomplished anything, they were so fearful of making blunders. Some of the most useful men I have ever known were men who at the outset were the least promising, but who had a real love for souls and went on, at first in a blundering way, but they blundered on until they learned by experience to do things well.
Do not be discouraged by your blunders. Pitch in and keep pegging away. Every honest mistake is but a stepping-stone to future success. Try every day to lead someone else to Christ. Of course, you will not succeed every day, but the work will do you good anyway, and years after you have made the greatest blunders, you have accomplished the best results. The man who gets angriest at you, will often turn out in the end the man who is most grateful to you. Be patient and hope on. Never be discouraged.
Make a prayer list. Go alone with God. Write done at the top of a sheet of paper, "God helping me, I promise to pray daily and to work persistently for the conversion of the following persons." Then kneel down and ask God to show you who to put on that list. Do not make the list so long that your prayer and work becomes mechanical and superficial. After you have made the list keep your covenant, really pray for them everyday. Watch for opportunities to speak to them - improve these opportunities. You may have watch long for your opportunities with some of them, and you may have to speak often, but never give up. I have prayed about fifteen years for one man, one of the most discouraging men I ever met, but I saw that man converted at last, and I saw him a preacher of the gospel, and many others were converted through his preaching, and now he is in the Glory.
Learn to use tracts. Get a few good tracts that are fitted to meet the needs of different kinds of people. Then hand these tracts our to the people whose needs they are adapted to meet. Follow your tracts up with prayer and with personal effort.
Go to your paster and ask him if there is some work he would like to have you do for in the church. Be a person that your pastor can depend on. We live in a day in which there are many kinds of work going on outside the church, and many of these kinds of work are good and you should take part in them as you are able, but never forget that your first duty is to the church of which you are a member. Be a person that your pastor can count on. It may be that your pastor may not want to use you, but at least give him the chance of refusing you. If he does refuse you, don't be discouraged, but find work somewhere else. There is plenty to do and few to do it. It is true today as it was in the days of our Saviour,
"The harvest truly is plenteous but the labourers are few" [Matt. 9:37], "Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth labourers into His harvest, " and pray that He will send you [Matt. 9:38].
The right kind of men are needed in the ministry. The right kind of men and women are needed for foreign mission work, but you may not be the right kind of a man or woman for foreign missionary work, but none the less there is work for you to do just as important in its place as the work of the minister or the missionary is. See that you fill your place and fill it well.
Note from FBSL: This lesson is not intended to bring condemnation on anyone. Some people are very good at talking and sharing, others are more reserved. We should all be sharing as the opportunities arise. It is important to keep in mind that a fruit tree does not have to work at producing fruit - it is a natural result of being connected to the life of the tree. In the same way, as you remain connected to Jesus, He will lead you and guide into the activities He wants you involved in...and you will produce fruit. And while soul-winning is an important part of Christian work, it is far from being the only kind of Christian work...
Feed Yourself Assignments
These assignments assume the student has completed the Feed Yourself course.
1. Memorize John 15:16.
2. Look up in your Bible each Scripture reference mentioned in this lesson - even the ones that are quoted.
3. Make a prayer list of 5 - 10 people who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savour. Begin praying from the daily and watching for opportunities to share Christ with them.