LABORING AND STRUGGLING
In Colossians 1:28 Paul said, "Whom we announce, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man full-grown in Christ." We must announce Christ to the sinners. Then we must present them as matured believers to Christ. We sow the seed and take care of the seed until it grows unto maturity. Paul continued by saying, "For which also I labor, struggling according to His operation which operates in me in power" (v. 29). In this verse the word "struggling" means to fight, to wrestle. It is a word used in the sense of the Olympic games in which the participants had to struggle in competition. Paul used this word to describe our labor in the gospel. We in the Lord’s recovery should be laborers and strugglers. Anything that needs labor or struggling will not go very fast or grow very fast.
Before we go out to visit people with the gospel, we should rise up early in the morning to have a time with the Lord. Then we should pray desperately, "Lord, I desire to go out to spread Your salvation with the dispensing of Yourself as life to these people in need of You. Lord, I cry out to You and I touch Your throne. Lord, I call on You. Lord, I remind You that You have given the commandment to me. Go with me." After such prayer, we should go and labor. Then whether or not we are able to reap someone is in the hands of the Lord. If we labor in this way, we will surely gain some new ones for the Lord’s interests. Our rate of increase should be left to the Lord. The Lord desires us to be faithful by laboring and struggling, without expecting that much. We do not need to baptize the whole world because the whole world has not been chosen by God. We should just bear the burden to faithfully labor and struggle for the gospel.
Perhaps those of us who have tried to practice visiting people with the gospel have been disappointed because we wanted quick results. But we need to labor consistently for forty-five weeks out of the year. If we would be consistent and patient to go out once or twice a week for at least three hours each time, we will gain two as remaining fruit within a year. We do not need to expect that much. We should just labor. Expectation is something in the air; laboring and struggling is real. Whether or not we see the fruit, we should just go out year-round. We should dedicate ourselves and give ourselves to the Lord.
We surely need to take care of our family and household affairs. This is something ordained by the Lord. But at the same time, we must give the Lord a tithe of our time. At least three hours on one day of the week can be spared for the Lord. These three hours should be given to the Lord to announce Christ to people. Once we have two or three new ones through our visiting of people, we do not need to go out to get more. We should just take care of these two or three. We should consider them as our babes, feeding them, nourishing them, and cherishing them continuously, persistently, and constantly week after week. Some will grow and others will withdraw. Some will go away, but we still can go out to gain some other new ones. By again going out to visit people, we can bring a few others under our care. Once we gain a few others, we should feed them patiently, regularly, and constantly. This is not an overnight work. We must dedicate our entire life with at least three hours a week separated to the Lord. These three hours are not for the regular church meetings; rather, they are for announcing Christ to sinners, feeding them, and perfecting them until we present them matured to the Lord. The God-ordained way requires us to work in this way for our whole life.
If you labor and struggle consistently, two remaining fruit will be added to the church life each year from your labor. If today you are thirty years old, you could have as many as eighty spiritual children by the time you are seventy years old. Your spiritual children will also have children. Thus, you could also have many spiritual grandchildren. This depends upon your faithfulness, your labor, and your struggle for the long run. The God-ordained way is not just for you to become excited and burning for a short time of three months. It is a way of constant and persistent laboring and struggling.
The God-ordained way is to go to visit people in order to sow Christ into them. But you have to do it constantly, patiently, and faithfully in the way of fulfilling your vow to the Lord for your whole life. Be assured that the church you attend will get the increase. The God-ordained way works if you work in a proper way. It works if you work constantly, laboring and struggling. It is an exhausting labor. We all need to labor and struggle in the God-ordained way so that the recovery of Christ and the church can spread all over the earth.
In order to practice the God-ordained way, we must first give up hope in the traditional way of Christianity. Second, we must be full of faith with full assurance that the Lord’s ordained way works. Third, we must make a vow with the Lord, promising Him that we will separate at least three hours every week particularly for the purpose of visiting people with the gospel, feeding the young ones, and perfecting the saints. If we will do these three things year-round for forty-five weeks, three hours each week for our entire life, there will be a marvelous and glorious result.
(Messages to the Trainees in Fall 1990, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)