Beloved of our Lord,
His first so-welcome word to us was "Come unto ME, all ye that labour". That toil of the futile Adam was upon us, both in sin and weariness of works.
Have we left it at His Cross, or are we still bearing it, in part? Martha was cumbered in her much serving, though she were serving her Lord, as she thought! Strange that such a service should bring strain and irritation, jangled nerves, and wrong judgment of others; but that duality in Bethany is not yet passed; it is still found in the service of God. And so many "break-downs" are due to it, and much is the perplexity of that other word about His supreme service, "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." In the face of some experiences, the statement sounds ironical.
For the Lord calls us not into such labour, but into rest: "They that believe do enter into rest" and, "I will give you rest." Not only from sin, but from useless and disappointing labour does He promise rest. Adam's cursed labour in all its phases engenders but a fruitless weariness, an exhaustion of effort without recompense, and surely "the sweat of the brow." The energies of the "flesh," the mere intensity of soul, the heats of a self-created passion, all these cause the fever, often a great fever, that renders us unequal to serving our Lord when He comes truly needing our ministry.
So insistently does the Saviour say to fleshly earnestness and impulse, "one thing is needful, that you be still, and listen to My counsel, for I am your Lord." Study to be quiet.
For the works are finished from the foundation of the world, and we can do nothing to make them more perfect, or add one thing to them. Apart from Him was not one thing made that was made.
What then? There is the good part, which is also the good partnership. He and we are now to work together by His indwelling Spirit, just as He and the Father worked together on earth by the Indwelling. It is the Great Yoke, God's Eternal Purpose; but it is easy and light, for the burden is upon the Spirit, within our spirit, and is not a pressure anywhere upon the soul: neither the nerves nor the brain are tried by it, nor does any flesh know its weight. But the pillar of His Strength within supports it, an upward pressure of the Sovereign Love.
But now we labour, and rejoice to labour. There is toil and there may be glad weariness, but no strain.
And to conclude, here is the secret contained in an exultant experience, "I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." Paul heavily underlined these latter words all his life through, for it is the last subtle touch of the "old man" that he seeks to serve God, and to say "I" in the temple of His Glory; and as Andrew Murray said, "Where the flesh seeks to serve God - there is the strength of sin."
Arise, THOU, and the Ark of Thy Strength, within Thy saints.
Yours in the weakness that affords HIM Triumph,T. Austin-Sparks