John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 36

*The business of your calling

“Do not work for the food which perishes.”

John 6:27 NASB

For what purpose do you undertake and follow your worldly business? “To provide things necessary for myself and my family.” A good enough answer as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough for a Christian. We must go abundantly farther. Our purpose in all things is to please God. To do not our own will but the will of God on earth as the angels do in heaven. We work for that which endures to everlasting life.

Again, in what manner do you transact your worldly business? I trust with diligence, with all your might. And in justice: rendering to all their due in every circumstance. And in mercy: doing unto everyone as you would they should do to you. But Christians are called to go still farther: to add piety to justice; to intermix prayer—the prayer of the heart—with all the work of their hands. Without this, all the diligence and justice only show them to be honest persons. We must walk a “more excellent way” than honest pagans.

In what spirit do you go through your business? In the spirit of the world or in the spirit of Christ? If you act in the spirit of Christ, you do everything in the spirit of sacrifice, giving up your will to the will of God. You continually aim, not at ease, or pleasure, or riches; not at anything other than the glory of God. This is the most excellent way of pursuing worldly business!

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this thirty-sixth lesson on prayer, Wesley takes us to the place we live: How do we conduct ourselves in our various worldly pursuits? Whether that be as a business owner, employee, or even as a consumer, how do we let our Christian faith witness in such circumstances? Whether a tradesman, a nuclear scientist, or a sanitation worker, how do we let our light be the brightest in the pack?

Wesley breaks this down into three key questions: For what purpose do you undertake and follow your worldly business; in what manner do you transact your worldly business; and in what spirit do you go through your business? And in each case, Wesley urges the Christian that we must go farther than those not in the household of faith.

Remember when John the Baptist began baptizing and a crowd came to him? We read in Luke 3:7-14:

7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him,
” You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘ We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9 “Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10And the crowds were questioning him, saying,
” Then what shall we do?” 11And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” 12And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” 14Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages” (NASB).

In this passage, the crowds, in asking “What are we to do?” were rolling Wesley’s three questions into one. And in the baptizer’s answers we see that Wesley’s questions were answered as well. The purpose, manner, and spirit of our lives should always come higher as a follower of Christ. We must go farther than the average nice guy who lives next door. Let me summarize Wesley: “We must walk a ‘more excellent way; than honest pagans… We must go abundantly farther. Our purpose in all things is to please God. To do not our own will but the will of God on earth as the angels do in heaven. We work for that which endures to everlasting life… This is the most excellent way of pursuing worldly business!”

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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