THE LEARNING AND EXERCISE NEEDED BY THOSE WHO WORK FOR THE LORD
All those who have studied in school know that whether in high school, junior college, or a university the education provided covers many subjects. Even if you specialize in a certain subject, the school will provide an education that covers multiple lines rather than just a single line. For example, if you major in a foreign language, you still have to study other subjects such as history and Chinese literature. You will also need to receive training in other areas such as physical education, ethics, and character. In the same way, while we are learning to work for the Lord and live for God, we must be equipped in many ways. We must realize that just because we have “passed beyond all earthly bribe” (Hymns, #473, stanza 1), this does not mean that we can be full-timers who forget about everything and simply work for the Lord. Instead, we still must learn many things and be equipped in many ways. A person who desires to work for the Lord and live for God must learn many things and be exercised in many aspects.
The first thing you need is to grow in life. Life is a matter of primary importance. Without life, there is no way to live the Christian life, to work for the Lord, or to function in the church. The second thing you need is to be equipped with the truth. The third thing you need is to be built up in character. The fourth thing you need is to exercise to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The fifth thing is to exercise to fellowship with the Lord moment by moment. Due to their negligence in this matter, many have gotten themselves into trouble. The sixth thing is to walk according to the Spirit. The seventh thing is to consecrate yourselves to the Lord every day. You all need to learn these basic things. Finally, you need to be equipped with languages. In addition, there are two important things which you need to learn: to exercise faith and to exercise to learn to endure suffering.
THE EXERCISE OF FAITH
The exercise of faith is a very fundamental matter. We must see that today our living is entirely contrary to communism. Communism is materialistic, being concerned altogether with material things, whereas we are God-centered, being concerned altogether with spiritual things. To live a life that is altogether centered on God, we need faith, not sight (2 Cor. 5:7). With communism, everything is by sight; with us, everything is by faith. Hence, we must exercise faith.
In Bodily Illnesses
First, we must learn to exercise faith when we are sick. This does not mean that we are superstitious. When we are sick, we still have to see a doctor and take medicine. This is a two-sided matter. For example, every day God sustains us not by signs and wonders but through a normal diet. We should not think that since we trust in God, we can survive without eating, just like the Lord Jesus did when He was tempted by Satan for forty days. This is superstition. On the other hand, we should not think that as long as we eat, we will be healthy and strong and will live long. In fact, even if we eat properly, we may still get sick, even with some fatal illness. Therefore, we must trust in God.
For this reason, even if we have only a cold, we still have to learn to trust in God’s healing. We should not seek miracles but should see a doctor and take medicine while also trusting in God. This is not an easy thing. With some, once they go to a doctor and take medicine, they give up their trust in God. With others, once they believe in God, they become superstitious and would never go to see a doctor. Both are too much.
When Brother Watchman Nee was young, Sister M. E. Barber was the person who gave him the most help. She never went to see a doctor or took medicine in her whole life, so she lived to only around sixty years of age. Even Paul told Timothy, “No longer drink water only, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Tim. 5:23). We cannot say that Paul had little faith. I feel that M. E. Barber was a little bit too much. Otherwise, she could have lived longer and could have been more useful in the Lord’s hand. Therefore, for our benefit and the Lord’s, we must learn this matter of exercising faith.
(The Economy of God and the Mystery of the Transmission of the Divine Trinity, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)